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UNCCD Land Anthem inspires a Moment for Nature at UN Headquarters

The UNCCD Land Anthem “Born from the Land’, performed by the Land Ambassador Ricky Kej, became an emotional curtain-raiser for the high-level thematic debate "Moment for Nature" that took place on 19 July 2022 in the General Assembly Hall of the UN Headquarters in New York. The debate focused on ways to achieve the Paris Agreement's 1.5-degree target and ensure humanity's future by promoting greater coordination of the global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect biodiversity on land and sea, restore life to degraded land and soils, combat pollution and enable circular economies. Somewhere along our journey as humans, we have forgotten that we are not the only species, we need to live in absolute peace and absolute harmony with every single entity of nature, co-existing with the land we walk on and the air we breathe" –  Ricky Kej The two-time Grammy Award winner and a long-standing UNCCD Land Ambassador, Ricky Kej embodies and inspires positive change through the emotional language of art and music. The UNCCD Land Anthem that he created together with another Land Ambassador Baaba Maal and other musicians from Canada, India, the USA, Senegal, South Africa and Vietnam has already been produced in eight languages. The song that celebrates Life on Land has been performed at key international events, such as the UNCCD COPs and the Desertification and Drought Day global observances. You can download the lyrics in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian, and watch the original release on our YouTube channel.

UNCCD Land Anthem inspires a Moment for Nature at UN Headquarters
Women-led solutions to desertification highlighted at UNCCD COP15 photo expo

To highlight the crucial role of women as agents of change for sustainable land management during recent UNCCD COP15, the UNCCD Secretariat collected original and exceptional photos to showcase promising practices which demonstrate women’s leadership and innovation in adapting to land degradation, desertification and drought.  Efforts to combat and address land degradation, desertification, and droughts require a more thorough understanding of human rights and gender equality considerations. Numerous studies and experiences worldwide have confirmed that gender inequalities must be addressed as part of biodiversity conservation, land restoration, adaptation and mitigation to climate change, and efforts to transition to an inclusive and regenerative green economy, especially after the pandemic. Land degradation and desertification action can thus reinforce or exacerbate inequalities—or intentionally aim to overcome and transform them, for the resilience of all people. The UNCCD emphasizes that both men and women must be active participants at all levels in programs to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought. Resolving gender inequalities is not only a matter of “righting a wrong” but also a significant opportunity to make use of women’s often under-recognized abilities, knowledge, talents, and leadership.  Photos highlighting good practices that demonstrated role of women as agents of change for sustainable land management have been submitted by civil society organizations (national and international), indigenous peoples’ organizations, women organizations, foundations, UN entities and other relevant actors. The accompanying stories outline the promising practice featured in the photo, and present the impact of the initiative or project for promoting women’s empowerment and  gender equality in the context of land degradation, desertification, and drought. You can find the highlights of the exhibition under "documents" menu on the right. Photo: (c) www.migdev.org

Women-led solutions to desertification highlighted at UNCCD COP15 photo expo
UNCCD COP15 closing remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw

Excellence M. le Premier Ministre, Excellences, Distingués délégués, Chers collègues, Mesdames et Messieurs, Dans mon discours d’ouverture le 9 Mai, je disais que « la Côte d’Ivoire dispose de ce magnétisme extraordinaire, cette hospitalité exceptionnelle qui explique pourquoi ce pays attire autant de talents et de touristes ». Aujourd’hui, après plusieurs jours passés ici avec des milliers de délégués venus des quatre coins du monde, je suis en mesure de rapporter certains propos répétés des centaines de fois par des anonymes louant la générosité et l’accueil du peuple ivoirien. En tant que Secrétaire exécutif, je ne peux qu’exprimer mon entière satisfaction pour la tenue réussie de cette COP. Je suis fier de ce que je vois, de ce que j’entends, de ce que j’entrevois pour l’avenir de ce pays. Il va sans dire que le chemin a été parsemé d’embûches. Que d’obstacles franchis, que d’efforts déployés pour mettre tout le monde dans de bonnes conditions de travail et de sécurité. Y compris de sécurité sanitaire en pleine pandémie de COVID. Que de patience pour satisfaire aux multiples demandes du Secrétariat de UNCCD, aux exigences de nos partenaires et aux sollicitations de nos Parties. Que de patience pour écouter, comprendre, répondre et satisfaire à des exigences parfois contradictoires. Que n’a-t-il pas fallu faire pour tenir une COP de près de 7000 participants à Abidjan? Construire les salles temporaires, les viabiliser. Amadouer les équipements, dompter les infrastructures temporaires pour qu’elles ne cèdent pas sous la menace des orages tropicaux en pleine saison des pluies! Que dire des vendeuses de Treichville, de Marcory ou de Cocody, si gentilles et si accueillantes ? Qui leur a demandé de se paver de si belles couleurs dont l’Afrique est si fière ? Dear delegates, observers and staff, We made it! to the end of these two weeks and very intense journey – for many of you, a journey that started well before the 9th of May. I would like to thank President Ouattara for holding the High-level Summit, which brought a dozen Heads of State and Government to attend our COP. This was incredible. It shows the growing awareness and the dedication that Heads of State are giving to restoring degraded land. I would also like to thank the people of Abidjan for their incredible hospitality. For the smiles that we were met with each and every day. For the amazing music and beats that marked our tempo. For receiving us and making us feel at home. Since I have the floor, I would like to thank all those that made this COP possible: All colleagues from UN agencies: from UN security to UN conference services, the interpreters, technicians. My sincere appreciation to cleaners, food providers, and to our volunteers who spent this hectic time offering their services and knowledge.   A special thank you goes of course to the National Organizing Committee and its 11 national working groups. And to our COP15 President, Mr. Alain Richard Donwahi, for the incredible leadership, which you have already demonstrated. Perhaps the most amazing of all, is the dedication, patience and professionalism of the UNCCD Staff. We actually have less than 70 staff of UNCCD worldwide, for the Secretariat and the Global Mechanism combined. Inclusive of all sources of funding. They are the engine behind this COP.  Danke! Excellency Prime Minister, Dear Delegates, At this COP: You ran a Summit of Heads of States and Government Had a High-Level Gender Caucus 5 Ministerial meetings (Dialogues and round tables) You received, at least six weeks before the COP, all documents prepared by your Secretariat; 38 decisions are being submitted to this Plenary for its consideration; 127 side events brought together thousands of participants to share knowledge; Landmark reports were produced, including the Global Land Outlook, the Gender Report, a report on Drought, to name but a few; The Abidjan Legacy Programme which we were honored to contribute to its inception and look forward to continue supporting; In terms of media coverage, our monitoring system picked up over 4,000 articles from 80 countries in over 40 languages; An unprecedented number of interactions happened on social media. A staggering number of close to 170 million people were reached. I am informed that our issues were trending on the global tweetosphere for several hours during the High Level segment. This would not have been possible without your support, the generous financial support of our Parties, donors and supporters. I am aware of the challenges many of you faced. Although we tried to anticipate and address as many issues as possible, we were still confronted with some hiccups along the road. I can assure you that your Secretariat is determined to continue to drawing lessons learned from these experiences and build on them to improve all of our experiences for the upcoming COPs. So, COP 15 has been a great achievement, but it’s also a grave reminder that “much effort, much prosperity” must remain our mantra. Thank you!

UNCCD COP15 closing remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw
Latest climate report underscores urgent need to act on drought

The State of the Global Climate in 2021 report released on 18 May 2022 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirms that the past seven years have been the warmest seven years on record. According to the Report, drought affected many parts of the world, including the Horn of Africa, Canada, the western United States, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey. Eastern Africa is facing the very real prospect that the rains will fail for a fourth consecutive season, placing Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in a drought of a length not experienced in the last 40 years. It states further that humanitarian agencies are warning of devastating impacts on people and livelihoods in the region. In South America, drought caused big agricultural losses and disrupted energy production and river transport. Drought resilience is at the top of the agenda of the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) underway in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. “The catastrophic effects of multi-year droughts witnessed in every region of the world in the last decade demand action now. Unless we work together to prepare, respond and build resilience to drought, the impacts on our food, water and energy at a time when the global population is growing would create unimaginable social and environmental upheavals,” says Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary. The WMO report shows that we may be closer to over-shooting the desired temperature rise unless drastic measures are taken. It further states that the average global temperature in 2021 was about 1.11 (± 0.13) °C above the pre-industrial level. It calls for countries to scale up the adoption and diffusion of renewable energy massively. The report comes on the heels of stark warnings issued in two reports released earlier this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that we had up to 2030 to take actions to get us on track to staying within a temperature rise of no more than 1.5 degrees. The second edition of the Global Land Outlook released less than a month ago by UNCCD identified some of the human impacts on people and the land they depend on under a business-as-usual scenario. An area almost the size of South America would be degraded by 2050. About 12-14 per cent of natural areas, farmland, pastures and grazing land would under persistent, long-term declines in productivity. And an additional 69 gigatonnes of carbon would be emitted into the atmosphere through land use change and soil degradation. What’s more, droughts would increase in frequency, intensity and spread. The Drought in Numbers 2022 report released last week by UNCCD, revealed that the number and duration of droughts has increased by 29 per cent since 2000 and that unless urgent action is taken, droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population by 2050. UNCCD COP15, which concludes this Friday, 20 May, is expected to adopt decisions to accelerate global action to restore one billion hectares of degrading land, build robust measures for early action on drought, and to strengthen governance at all levels to facilitate the flow of technology and investment where needed.

Latest climate report underscores urgent need to act on drought