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AMCEN ministerial conference: Remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw

Excellencies,   Ministers, Colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen,   As we gather here in beautiful Dakar for the eighteenth session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, large parts of the African continent are wilting.  The Greater Horn of Africa is suffering its longest drought in 40 years. 50 million people in the region are suffering from acute food security with many heading to famine. The dry spell is not sparing North Africa: Morocco, Algeria. Last year, it was Madagascar and parts of Southern Africa. The year before, the Sahel. There is hardly any year where floods, drought or loss of fertile land is not hitting the continent. Millions are left without shelter, food, water or barely enough firewood to cook their meal.   And yet, Africa is still not addressing the root causes of land degradation. Many governments still do not see desertification, land degradation and drought as a top priority. It seems  paradoxical to want to achieve food security, to combat poverty and to reduce vulnerabilities while at the same time neglecting its soils and productive land. Ministries in charge of land and drought are still largely under-resourced. Local authorities are not empowered to tackle the Herculean task of restoring degraded lands. Yet, Africa is arguably the most vulnerable region to drought, desertification and loss of productive land.   The continent has lost 65% of its productive land over the last seventy years. Meanwhile the population has grown by 600%. Climate change will further accelerate this disruption. In some parts of Africa, such as the Sahel and Somalia, we have already reached the tipping point.   Are we not tired of seeing children dying? Are we not tired of seeing people leave their lives behind? Are we not tired of the scramble for emergency aid? For sure, I am.  As a human being, as an international civil servant. But above all as a proud African. Many African nations have braced with droughts for decades. But are ready to confront another dry spell? Because there will be another drought.   And another.   And another.   Because the next drought will occur sooner than we thought.   In fact, the next drought may already be here.   Droughts are often followed by floods. Or vice versa.   Droughts and floods are twins.   Desertification is robbing our fertile land.   Drought and Land degradation are eroding our economy.   Deteriorating our well-being and quality of life.   Wreaking havoc on our social fabric, which is perhaps for Africa, the most valuable asset there is.   Excellence, mesdames et messieurs les ministres,   Chers délégués,   Mesdames et messieurs,   L’Afrique, plus que toute autre région du monde, fait face à des défis multiformes.   Pour autant, elle ne plie pas.   L’Afrique résiste.   Stoïquement.   L’Afrique a fait preuve de résilience face à des phénomènes historiques sans précédent. Dépeuplée, dépecée, cannibalisée, elle a, tel un rock, résisté.  Elle est debout.   Certes touchée, mais pas coulée.   Loin s’en faut.   Les événements contemporains ont montré qu’en dépit de la faiblesse de ses moyens matériels, l’Afrique sait faire preuve de résilience, y compris face aux grandes pandémies.   En matière de gestion des ressources naturelles et de lutte contre les changements climatiques, l’Afrique a peut-être une autre voie, une autre stratégie à adopter.   Un changement de narratif demande un changement d’approche.   Une aspiration d’émergence et de prospérité plutôt qu’une approche de lutte contre la pauvreté. Dépasser la borne de départ. Décoller du starting block.  Ouvrir les vannes du potentiel des ressources naturelles. A la fois les richesses sous-terre ou au fonds des mers, et celles à ciel ouvert.   Le soleil et le vent, les cours d’eau, la houle et la géothermie seront, peut-être, bientôt cotés aux bourses des valeurs «écologiques».   Le monde se tourne vers l’hydrogène, cette énergie propre du futur.   Or, les quatre coins d’Afrique dégagent un potentiel excédentaire en hydrogène vert ; l’électrolyse se ferait en utilisant, comme source d’énergie, le soleil, le vent et l’eau.  Tous neutres en carbone.   Sortir l’Afrique de sa pauvreté énergétique, par la grande porte de la neutralité carbone.  Assurer le décollage industriel du continent, en suivant une autre voie que celle qui a conduit aux désastres cataclysmiques que le monde subit au quotidien.   Il s’agit pour l’Afrique, d’arrêter de « dormir sur la natte des autres », pour paraphraser l’inoubliable Joseph Ki Zerbo du Burkina Faso.  La richesse de l’Afrique en terres rares est un autre don de la Nature. En Afrique centrale et en Afrique australe notamment. Ces éléments si essentiels aux technologies vertes vendues à prix d’or sur le marché international.   Par ailleurs, la diversité extraordinaire des écosystèmes est une autre des dimensions de cette richesse: de la forêt dense humide à la savane, des grands espaces ouverts, aux luxuriantes steppes. La disponibilité de grands espaces offre une amplitude extraordinaire pour la restauration des terres à grande échelle.   Restaurer les terres, c’est rendre à celles-ci leur aptitude à produire pour nos besoins et les besoins de nos écosystèmes.   Restaurer les terres, c’est créer de la richesse, lutter contre les vulnérabilités en construisant la résilience des écosystèmes et des populations.   Restaurer les terres, c’est aussi réduire la quantité de carbone dans l’atmosphère, en stockant ce dernier dans le sol.   Bref, la restauration des terres, la gestion rationnelle des forêts, comme la production d’énergie propre ou l’exploitation rationnelle des terres rares sont autant de mesure d’atténuation aux changements climatiques.   L’atténuation aux changements climatiques doit donc être une priorité pour l’Afrique.  Autant que l’adaptation.   Un tel changement de narratif est vecteur d’investissements (publics et privés) dans des secteurs productifs tels que l’énergie, l’agro-foresterie ou encore l’éco-tourisme.    Il s’agit de promouvoir la prospérité tout en préservant la nature.   Il s’agit de promouvoir une croissance sobre en carbone.    Il s’agit tout simplement de promouvoir le développement durable.   L’Afrique, la presse n’en parle pas assez, joue un rôle pionnier dans la promotion des investissements  en matière de restauration des terres. Au Sahel, la Grande muraille verte a pu mobiliser 19 milliards de dollars. En Côte d’Ivoire, l’initiative d’Abidjan en est à 2,5 milliards de dollars. D’autres initiatives comme AFR100 du NEPAD, montre la voie. La toute nouvelle initiative de restauration des terres en Afrique australe (SADC), est plus que prometteuse. L’initiale de restauration des terres du Moyen Orient, concerne plusieurs pays d’Afrique. Elle promet plusieurs dizaines de milliards de dollars. La Earth Foundation de Bezos annonce un milliard de dollars pour la restauration des terres en Afrique. La liste n’est pas exhaustive. Elle est cependant une démonstration concrète du leadership africain dans ce domaine crucial. Leadership qu’il faut célébrer et renforcer. Les agendas des terres, du climat et de la biodiversité étant fortement interconnectés, une approche globale et intégrée est fortement recommandée. C’est ainsi qu’à UNCCD, nous appelons de tous nos vœux pour des résultats concrets à la COP27 du climat à Sharm-El-Sheikh, et à la COP15 de la biodiversité à Montréal.   Avec les résultats de la COP15 de UNCCD qui s’est déjà tenue en mai à Abidjan, la communauté internationale disposerait ainsi d’un corpus juridique cohérent.   Ensemble, nous réussirons.   Je vous remercie.  

AMCEN ministerial conference: Remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw
New business challenge to boost the use of Sahelian products in support of the Great Green Wall

Baobab fruit, moringa oil and shea butter are just some of the products from Africa’s Sahel region that may hold the key to improving livelihoods, restoring degraded lands, and tackling climate change. To unlock this potential of the Sahel’s natural capital and give new momentum to the Great Green Wall’s land restoration ambition, a new sourcing challenge has been launched at UNCCD COP15 Green Business Forum in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The Sahel sourcing challenge calls on the global supply chains managers to upscale the use of sustainably produced Sahelian ingredients, such as bambara nut, baobab, moringa, gum Arabic and fonio, from the Sahel's small-scale producers as a way to create new economic opportunities for local populations. Sahel region is one of the most vulnerable places on Earth, where the temperatures are rising 1.5 times faster than the global average and where increasing desertification, drought and resource scarcity, leading to radicalization, conflict and migration. An African-led movement to inspire the world, the Great Green Wall is an epic vision to create a 8,000 km-long mosaic of projects across the continent that support land restoration, create 10 million jobs and promise a better a future. UNCCD is a key partner of the Great Green Wall Initiative, working with businesses and major corporate partners to create green jobs and transform the Sahel through market-driven, sustainable ethical supply chains. “The Great Green Wall challenge has a huge potential to help combat land degradation. By creating demand for the Sahel’s underutilized ingredients, the private sector can play a pivotal role in the creation of local economic development and the subsequent environmental and social impact that new value chains will bring,” says Nick Salter, co-founder of Aduna. Aduna, together with WhatIf Foods, Unilever, Evonik, Doehler, the World Economic Forum and the Global Shea Alliance, is among the major businesses and platforms that are working on the challenge and calling on others to follow suit and work with UNCCD and Business Fights Poverty to make the challenge a world-class success. “We're looking to be not just buyers, but to support communities. Improving livelihoods and soil fertility are in everyone's best interests,” says Scott Poynton, CEO and Founder of The Pond Foundation and WhatIf Foods Partner. Follow the Great Green Wall progress on the Web, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

New business challenge to boost the use of Sahelian products in support of the Great Green Wall
The First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire will chair the UNCCD COP15 Gender Caucus on 9 May 2022

En français The First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire, H.E. Dominique Ouattara, has agreed to chair the Gender Caucus of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Abidjan. This second edition of the Caucus, which opens on May 9, 2022, will welcome world leaders to place the issue of gender at the center of debates on climate change and desertification, and, above all, to accelerate women’s equal access to land resource management. Representing several links in the agricultural chain, women are particularly affected by land degradation and drought. Their low social status and lack of protection in rural areas make them more likely to suffer from the impacts of desertification. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, women account for half of the agricultural workforce but only hold 18% of the associated land titles. In addition, the decline in agricultural production due to desertification reduces their incomes and prevents them from having access to basic social services such as education, access to drinking water, health care, etc. Yet, Women play a key role in both irrigated and non-irrigated agriculture, and many are engaged in rainfed agriculture, producing two-thirds of agricultural commodities in developing countries. They participate fully in the collection and conservation of water. However, water policies linked to agriculture value them less. The international community stressed the importance of including women in water management, particularly for agricultural purposes, but also for other purposes, such as personal hygiene, cleaning and laundry. This large-scale gathering of world leaders will be an opportunity to define the role of women in land restoration and water resource management initiatives, while improving the livelihoods of rural populations. The First Lady’s role as Caucus Chair stems from her exceptional efforts to build the capacity of vulnerable women. The First Lady’s mission is to promote women’s empowerment by creating funding opportunities for women. The Women’s Assistance Fund (FAFCI), which she created in 2012, generated reinvestment capital of more than FCFA 25 billion. Round tables between Heads of State, heads of global institutions, the private sector and civil society will identify innovative initiatives and technologies for women’s empowerment. During this event, which will see the presence of several First Ladies, the members of the Caucus will share a statement indicating an action plan to support rural communities in a gender context. The Finnish H.E. Tarja Halonen, former Head of State and UNCCD Land Ambassador (UNCCD), and the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, confirmed their presence at this high-level segment. La Première Dame de Côte d’Ivoire présidera le Caucus sur le genre, le 9 mai 2022, lors de la Conférence des Parties à la Convention des Nations Unies sur la lutte contre la désertification La Première Dame de Côte d’Ivoire, S.E. Dominique Ouattara, a donné son accord pour présider le Caucus sur le genre de la quinzième réunion de la Conférence des Parties (COP 15) à la Convention des Nations Unies sur la lutte contre la désertification (CNULD) qui se tiendra le mois prochain à Abidjan.    Cette deuxième édition du Caucus qui s’ouvre le 9 mai 2022 accueillera des leaders mondiaux à l’effet de positionner la question du genre au centre des débats relatifs aux changements climatiques et à la désertification, et surtout d’accélérer l’accès équitable des femmes à la gestion des ressources terrestres.    Représentant plusieurs maillons de la chaîne agricole, les femmes subissent particulièrement la dégradation des terres et la sécheresse. Leur faible statut social et le manque de protection dans les zones rurales les rendent plus susceptibles de souffrir des impacts de la désertification. Par exemple, en Afrique subsaharienne, les femmes représentent la moitié de la main-d’œuvre agricole mais ne détiennent que 18% de titres fonciers associés.    En outre, la baisse de la production agricole due à la désertification réduit leurs revenus et les empêche d’avoir accès aux services sociaux de base tels que l’éducation, l’accès à l’eau potable, les soins de santé, etc. Pourtant, les femmes jouent un rôle primordial autant dans l’agriculture irriguée que non irriguée, et sont nombreuses à pratiquer l’agriculture pluviale, produisant deux tiers des denrées agricoles dans les pays en développement. Elles participent pleinement à la collecte et à la conservation de l’eau. Or les politiques de l’eau liées à l’agriculture les valorisent moins. La communauté internationale a souligné l’importance d’inclure les femmes dans la gestion de l’eau, notamment à des fins agricoles, mais aussi à d’autres fins, telles que l’hygiène personnelle, le nettoyage et la lessive.    Ce rassemblement de grande envergure de dirigeants mondiaux sera l'occasion de définir le rôle des femmes dans les initiatives de restauration des terres et de gestion des ressources en eau, tout en améliorant les moyens de subsistance des populations rurales. Le rôle de la Première Dame en tant que présidente du Caucus découle de ses efforts exceptionnels pour renforcer les capacités des femmes vulnérables. La Première Dame s'est en effet donnée pour mission de promouvoir l’autonomisation des femmes en créant des opportunités de financement pour ces dernières. Le Fonds d'aide aux femmes (FAFCI) qu'elle a créé en 2012 a généré un capital de réinvestissement de plus de 25 milliards de FCFA.   Des tables rondes entre chefs d'État, chefs d'institutions mondiales, le secteur privé et la société civile permettront d'identifier des initiatives et des technologies innovantes pour l'autonomisation des femmes.   Lors de cet évènement qui verra la présence de plusieurs Premières Dames, les membres du Caucus partageront une déclaration indiquant un plan d'action pour soutenir les communautés rurales dans un contexte de genre.    La finlandaise S.E. Mme Tarja Halonen, ancienne cheffe d'État et ambassadrice des terres de la CNULD (UNCCD), et le Président de l'Assemblée générale des Nations Unies, M. Abdulla Shahid, ont confirmé leur présence à ce segment de haut niveau.

The First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire will chair the UNCCD COP15 Gender Caucus on 9 May 2022
Chronic land degradation: UN offers stark warnings and practical remedies in Global Land Outlook 2

Up to 40 % of the planet’s land is degraded, directly affects half of humanity, threatens roughly half of global GDP (US$44 trillion) If business as usual continued through 2050, report projects additional degradation of an area almost the size of South America Nations’ current pledge to restore 1 billion degraded hectares by 2030 requires $US 1.6 trillion this decade – a fraction of annual $700 billion in fossil fuel and agricultural subsidies As food prices soar amid rapid climate and other planetary changes, “crisis footing” needed to conserve, restore and use land sustainably Most comprehensive report on topic ever released shortly before UNCCD’s COP15 in Africa The way land resources – soil, water and biodiversity – are currently mismanaged and misused threatens the health and continued survival of many species on Earth, including our own, warns a stark new report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).  It also points decision makers to hundreds of practical ways to effect local, national and regional land and ecosystem restoration. UNCCD’s evidence-based flagship Global Land Outlook 2 (GLO2) report, five years in development with 21 partner organizations, and with over 1,000 references, is the most comprehensive consolidation of information on the topic ever assembled. It offers an overview of unprecedented breadth and projects the planetary consequences of three scenarios through 2050: business as usual, restoration of 50 million square km of land, and restoration measures augmented by the conservation of natural areas important for specific ecosystem functions. It also assesses the potential contributions of land restoration investments to climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, human health and other key sustainable development goals. Warns the report: “At no other point in modern history has humanity faced such an array of familiar and unfamiliar risks and hazards, interacting in a hyper-connected and rapidly changing world. We cannot afford to underestimate the scale and impact of these existential threats.” “Conserving, restoring, and using our land resources sustainably is a global imperative, one that requires action on a crisis footing…Business as usual is not a viable pathway for our continued survival and prosperity.” GLO2 offers hundreds of examples from around the world that demonstrate the potential of land restoration. It is being released before the UNCCD’s 15th session of the Conference of Parties to be held in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire (COP15, 9-20 May). Says Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD: “Modern agriculture has altered the face of the planet more than any other human activity.  We need to urgently rethink our global food systems, which are responsible for 80% of deforestation, 70% of freshwater use, and the single greatest cause of terrestrial biodiversity loss.” “Investing in large-scale land restoration is a powerful, cost-effective tool to combat desertification, soil erosion, and loss of agricultural production.  As a finite resource and our most valuable natural asset, we cannot afford to continue taking land for granted.” Future scenarios The report predicts the outcomes by 2050 and risks involved under three scenarios: Baseline:  Business as usual, continuing current trends in land and natural resource  degradation, while demands for food, feed, fiber, and bioenergy continue to rise. Land management practices and climate change continue to cause widespread soil erosion, declining fertility and growth in yields, and the further loss of natural areas due to expanding agriculture. By 2050: 16 million square kilometers show continued land degradation (the size of South America) A persistent, long-term decline in vegetative productivity is observed for 12-14% of agricultural, pasture and grazing land, and natural areas – with sub-Saharan Africa worst affected. An additional 69 gigatonnes of carbon is emitted from 2015 to 2050 due to land use change and soil degradation  This represents 17% of current annual greenhouse gas emissions: soil organic carbon (32 gigatonnes), vegetation (27 gigatonnes), peatland degradation/conversion (10 gigatonnes). Restoration: Assumes the restoration of around 5 billion hectares (50 million square kilometers or 35% of the global land area) using measures such as agroforestry, grazing management, and assisted natural regeneration. (Current international pledges: 10 million square kilometers). By 2050: Crop yields increase by 5-10% in most developing countries compared to the baseline. Improved soil health leads to higher crop yields, with the largest gains in the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, and subSaharan Africa, limiting food price increases. Soil water holding capacity would increase by 4% in rainfed croplands. Carbon stocks rise by a net 17 gigatonnes between 2015 and 2050 due to gains in soil carbon and reduced emission  Biodiversity continues to decline, but not as quickly, with 11% of biodiversity loss averted. Restoration and Protection: This scenario includes the restoration measures, augmented with protection measures of areas important for biodiversity, water regulation, conservation of soil and carbon stocks, and provision of critical ecosystem functions. By 2050: An additional 4 million square kilometers of natural areas (the size of India and Pakistan); largest gains expected in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America. Protections would prevent land degradation by logging, burning, draining, or conversion. About a third of the biodiversity loss projected in the baseline would be prevented An additional 83 gigatonnes of carbon are stored compared to the baseline.  Avoided emission and increased carbon storage would be equivalent to more than seven years of total current global emissions. See below for additional scenario projections and information Other key points in the report include: $US 44 trillion – roughly half the world’s annual economic output – is being put at risk by the loss of finite natural capital and nature’s services, which underpin human and environmental health by regulating climate, water, disease, pests, waste and air pollution, while providing numerous other benefits such as recreation and cultural benefits. The economic returns of restoring land and reducing degradation, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss could be as high as $US 125-140 trillion every year - up to 50% more than the $93 trillion global GDP in 2021 Repurposing in the next decade just $US 1.6 trillion of the annual $700 billion in perverse subsidies given to the fossil fuel and agricultural industries would enable governments to meet current pledges to restore by 2030 some 1 billion degraded hectares – an area the size of the USA or China – including 250 million hectares of farmland Restoring land, soils, forests and other ecosystems would contribute more than one-third of the cost-effective climate change mitigation needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C while supporting biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, human health and other key sustainable development goals Many traditional and modern regenerative food production practices can enable agriculture to pivot from being the primary cause of degradation to the principal catalyst for land and soil restoration Poor rural communities, smallholder farmers, women, youth, Indigenous Peoples, and other at-risk groups are disproportionately affected by desertification, land degradation, and drought. At the same time, traditional and local knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, proven land stewards, represent a vast store of human and social capital that must be respected and can be used to protect and restore natural capital Immediate financial support is needed to fund conservation and restoration in those developing countries with a greater share of the global distribution of intact, biodiverse, and carbon-rich ecosystems Restoration projects and programs tend to have long-term multiplier effects that strengthen rural economies and contribute to wider regional development. They generate jobs that cannot be outsourced, and investments stimulate demand that benefits local economies and communities Bringing together national action plans currently siloed under the UNCCD, Convention on Biological Diversity, and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change represents an immediate opportunity to align targets and commitments to implement land restoration, realize multiple benefits, and maximize returns on investment Land and resource rights, secured through enforceable laws and trusted institutions, can transform underperforming land assets into sustainable development opportunities, helping maintain equitable and cohesive societies Inclusive and responsible land governance, including tenure security, is an effective way to balance trade-offs and harness synergies that optimize restoration outcomes Grasslands and savannas are productive, biodiverse ecosystems that match forests both in their global extent and their need for protection and restoration. Equally important are wetlands, which are in long-term decline averaging losses at three times the rate of global forest loss in recent decades. Sustaining their capacity to absorb and store carbon is key to a climate-resilient future Intensive monocultures and the destruction of forests and other ecosystems for food and commodity production generate the bulk of carbon emissions associated with land use change  If current land degradation trends continue, food supply disruptions, forced migration, rapid biodiversity loss and species extinctions will increase, accompanied by a higher risk of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19, declining human health, and land resource conflicts GLO2 offers hundreds of good practice snapshots from around the world that illustrate context-specific measures to combat environmental degradation, restore land health, and improve living conditions. Many regenerative agriculture practices have the potential to increase crop yields and improve their nutritional quality while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and drawing down carbon from the atmosphere, it says. Examples include rewilding – reducing the human footprint to allow natural ecological processes to re-establish themselves – in the Greater Côa Valley in northern Portugal and the Iberá wetlands in Argentina; drought preparedness and risk reduction through national programmes in Mexico, the USA, and Brazil; sand and dust storm source mitigation in Iraq, China, and Kuwait; and gender-responsive land restoration in Mali, Nicauragua, and Jordan. There are also cases of integrated flood and drought strategies as well as forest landscape restoration using high-value crops. Good practices can involve terrace and contour farming, conserving and restoring watersheds, and rainwater harvesting and storage. In addition to their economic benefits, these measures  improve water retention and availability, prevent soil erosion and landslides, reduce flood risk, sequester carbon, and protect biodiversity habitat. Africa’s Great Green Wall, meanwhile, which aims to restore the continent’s degraded landscapes, exemplifies “a regional restoration initiative that embraces an integrated approach with the promise of transforming the lives of millions of people,” says the report. “The case studies from around the world showcased in GLO2 make clear that land restoration can be implemented in almost all settings and at many spatial scales, suggesting that every country can design and implement a tailored land restoration agenda to meet their development needs,” says Mr. Thiaw. Many of the cases, he adds, underscore the value of education, training, and capacity building, not just for local communities, but also for government officials, land managers, and development planners. Linking local engagement to national policies and budgets will help ensure a responsive and well-aligned restoration agenda that delivers tangible outcomes for people, nature, and the climate.   Preventing, halting, and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide is the focus of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), which calls for a broad and balanced response, addressing all ecosystems and their connectivity to reestablish a healthy landscape mosaic. These efforts are closely aligned with SDG target 15.3, which calls on countries to strive to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030. “Hope remains as the decade of restoration has begun,” says Mr. Thiaw. “Now is the time to harness political will, innovation, and collective action to restore our land and soil for short-term recovery and long-term regeneration to ensure a more stable and resilient future.” By the numbers, GLO2: 50%: Proportion of humanity affected by land degradation $US 7-30: benefits returned for every dollar invested in restoring degraded land Four: planetary boundaries (used to define a ‘safe operating space for humanity’) already exceeded: climate change, biodiversity loss, land use change, and geochemical cycles, breaches directly linked to human-induced desertification, land degradation, and drought 40%+: global land area occupied by agriculture 15%: proportion of the $US 700 billion paid out in commercial subsidies each year that positively impact natural capital, biodiversity, long-term job stability, or livelihoods 70%+: Tropical forest cleared for agriculture between 2013 and 2019 in violation of national laws or regulations 1%: Farms that control more than 70% of the world’s agricultural land 80%: Farms smaller than two hectares, representing 12% of total farmland 50%: Reduction of degraded land by 2040 pledged by G20 leaders in November 2020 115+: countries that had made quantitative, area-based commitments by the end of 2021, collectively a pledge to restore 1 billion hectares of farms, forests, and pastures 100+: Countries with plans for Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030: ‘frameworks for action’ by local and national authorities, civil society, and the private sector 130: Countries that reaffirmed in the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use (Nov. 2021) their respective individual and collective commitments under the three Rio Conventions – on Desertification (UNCCD), Biological Diversity (CBD), and Climate Change (UNFCCC), supported by unprecedented corporate and donor pledges. It also includes commitments to facilitate trade and development policies that avoid deforestation and land degradation, especially regarding internationally-traded agricultural commodities, such as beef, soy, palm oil, and timber.  Land degradation: The persistent or long-term loss of land-based natural capital. It gives rise to poverty, hunger, and environmental pollution, while making communities more vulnerable to disease and disasters like drought, floods, or wildfires. This is especially true in the drylands that cover more than 45% of the Earth’s land surface, home to one in three people. Land restoration: A continuum of sustainable land and water management practices that can be applied to conserve or ‘rewild’ natural areas, ‘up-scale’ nature-positive food production in rural landscapes, and ‘green’ urban areas, infrastructure, and supply chains. Regenerative land use practices employed to boost soil health or recharge groundwater also enhance our ability to cope with drought, floods, wildfires, and sand and dust storms. Comments “The second edition of the Global Land Outlook is a must-read for the biodiversity community. The future of biodiversity is precarious. We have already degraded nearly 40 % and altered 70 % of the land. We cannot afford to have another “lost decade” for nature and need to act now for a future of life in harmony with nature. The GLO2 shows pathways, enablers and knowledge that we should apply to effectively implement the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.” Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary, UN Convention on Biological Diversity “Land is the operative link between biodiversity loss and climate change, and therefore must be the primary focus of any meaningful intervention to tackle these intertwined crises. Restoring degraded land and soil provides fertile ground on which to take immediate and concerted action.”  Andrea Meza Murillo, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNCCD “As a global community we can no longer rely on incremental reforms within traditional planning and development frameworks to address the profound development and sustainability challenges we are facing in coming decades. A rapid transformation in land use and management practices that place people and nature at the center of our planning is needed,  prioritizing job creation and building vital skill sets while giving voice to women and youth who have been traditionally marginalized from decision making.” Nichole Barger, report steering committee member, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, USA  “Just as COVID-19 vaccines were developed, tested, and rolled out at unprecedented speed and scale, so too must land restoration and other nature-based solutions be undertaken to prevent further environmental decline and ensure a healthy and prosperous future.  We can reduce the risk of zoonotic disease transmission, increase food and water security, and improve human health and livelihoods by managing, expanding, and connecting protected and natural areas, improving soil, crop, and livestock health in food systems, and creating green and blue spaces in and around cities.” Barron Orr, Lead Scientist, UNCCD “Restoring long term health and productivity in food landscapes is a top priority to ensure future sustainability.  Much as an investor uses financial capital to generate profits, regenerating a forest or improving soil health provides returns in the form of a future supply of timber or food.”  Louise Baker, Director, Global Mechanism, UNCCD “Indigenous Peoples and local communities are proven land stewards. The recognition of their rights and their involvement in the long-term management of their lands and of protected areas will be vital to success.” Miriam Medel, Chief, External Relations, Policy and Advocacy, UNCCD “By designing an innovative, customized land restoration agenda that suits their needs, capacities, and circumstances, countries and communities can recover lost natural resources and better prepare for climate change and other looming threats.” Johns Muleso Kharika, Chief, Science, Technology and Innovation, UNCCD GLO2: Baseline Scenario projections By 2050: 16 million square kilometers show continued land degradation (the size of South America) A persistent, long-term decline in vegetative productivity is observed for 12-14% of agricultural, pasture and grazing land, and natural areas – with sub-Saharan Africa worst affected. An additional 69 gigatonnes of carbon is emitted from 2015 to 2050 due to land use change and soil degradation  This represents 17% of current annual greenhouse gas emissions: soil organic carbon (32 gigatonnes), vegetation (27 gigatonnes), peatland degradation/conversion (10 gigatonnes). A slowing in the growth of agricultural yields While agricultural yields are still projected to rise in all regions, land degradation will curb increases, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. The loss of soil organic carbon and the soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients, such as phosphorus or nitrogen, will be primarily responsible for this slowing, while the associated risks of drought and water scarcity are expected to increase. The demand for food, expected to rise by 45% between 2015 and 2050, will have to be met by further intensification and expansion of agricultural land, resulting in the further loss of 3 million square kilometers of natural areas (the size of India), mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Other contemporary scenario analyses explicitly consider factors such as environmental governance, land distribution, and access to resources. Restoration Scenario projections The restoration scenario assumes that land restoration is done on a massive scale – across a potential 50 million square kilometers (5 billion hectares) with measures such as: Conservation agriculture (low- or no-till farming) Agroforestry and silvopasture (combining trees with crops, livestock, or both) Improved grazing management and grassland rehabilitation Forest plantations Assisted natural regeneration Cross-slope barriers to prevent soil erosion The restoration scenario envisions these measures applied to roughly 16 million square kilometers of cropland, 22 million of grazing land, and 14 million of natural areas. Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are estimated to have the largest areas with the potential for land restoration. Compared to the baseline scenario, restoration means by 2050: Crop yields increase by 5-10% in most developing countries compared to the baseline Improved soil health leads to higher crop yields, with the largest gains in the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, and subSaharan Africa, limiting food price increases. Soil water holding capacity would increase by 4% in rainfed croplands. Carbon stocks rise by a net 17 gigatonnes between 2015 and 2050 due to gains in soil carbon and reduced emissions.  This is the balance of a net increase in soil organic carbon, increased carbon in agroforestry, and a continued loss of vegetation carbon due to land conversion. It does not account for the potential carbon storage gains above ground from forest restoration. Soil carbon stocks would be 55 gigatonnes larger in 2050 compared to the baseline, with the largest gains in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Latin America, while the biggest losses would be avoided in sub-Saharan Africa. Slowed biodiversity decline and loss of natural areas.  Globally, the extent of natural areas continues to decline due to the expansion of agricultural and urban areas, except in Latin America where natural areas are projected to increase by 3%. Biodiversity would continue to decline, but not as quickly, with 11% of biodiversity loss averted. Restoration and Protection Scenario projections This scenario includes the restoration measures, augmented with protection measures expanded to cover close to half of the Earth’s land surface by 2050 – a threefold increase on the current coverage. These protected areas are important for biodiversity, water regulation, conservation of soil and carbon stocks, and provision of critical ecosystem functions. However, significantly increasing the extent of protected land would limit the expansion of agriculture. Under this constraint, current yields would have to be 9% higher by 2050 than in the baseline scenario to meet expected demand. Nonetheless, food prices are projected to increase, particularly in South and Southeast Asia, where a scarcity of agricultural land is already impacting food security. Under this scenario, most of the new protected areas would have to be in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. When compared to the baseline, the restoration and protection scenario means by 2050: An additional 4 million square kilometers of natural areas (the size of India and Pakistan).  With the largest gains expected in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America, protected areas would prevent land degradation by logging, burning, draining, or conversion. While biodiversity would continue to decline, about a third of the loss projected in the baseline would be prevented under restoration and protection measures. An additional 83 gigatonnes are stored compared to the baseline.  Avoided emission and increased carbon storage would be equivalent to more than seven years of total current global emissions. Additional resources: The global potential for land restoration: Scenarios for the Global Land Outlook 2 https://www.pbl.nl/en/publications/the-global-potential-for-land-restoration-scenarios-for-the-global-landoutlook-2 Restoration Commitments and Scenarios Goals and Commitments for the Restoration Decade: A global overview of countries’ restoration commitments under the Rio Conventions and other pledges https://www.pbl.nl/en/publications/goals-and-commitments-for-the-restoration-decade Images, video (credit: UNCCD): High-resolution video of northern Kenya drought  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FOU5Z-F6Q9cQsXjKxtghC5zFDqX1XYS5/view?usp=sharing  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1QNe57V1wCStw5kSLAebmYc0MYH2ZY3Dn/view?usp=sharing  Photos and captions:  https://bit.ly/3rRSpY2  Social Media Assets Infographics / related social media assets (credit: UNCCD): https://trello.com/b/sAbqXGl2/global-land-oulook-2nd-edition The GLO2 summary for decision makers is available  at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pG5dDn8cyWGGXZ6hZIZx-vfNMZS2HKOy/view?usp=sharing The full report is available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NfxqrezhaB30eh1FUPrXpka4-SQAjBWp/view?usp=sharing Two new regional reports, covering Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Africa, will also be released at COP15. COP15 programme, registration and other media information: https://www.unccd.int/cop15 About the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD.int) The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the global vision and voice for land. We unite governments, scientists, policymakers, private sector and communities around a shared vision and global action to restore and manage the world’s land for the sustainability of humanity and the planet. Much more than an international treaty signed by 197 parties, UNCCD is a multilateral commitment to mitigating today’s impacts of land degradation and advancing tomorrow’s land stewardship in order to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner.

Chronic land degradation: UN offers stark warnings and practical remedies in Global Land Outlook 2
Save Soil campaign comes to Bonn

On a mission to save the world's soils from extinction, the Save Soil campaign reached Bonn on 13 April 2022. The 100-day journey led by Sadhguru will cover 30,000 km across 25 nations to call on the policymakers and the public to make soil regeneration a priority. The campaign led by Sadhguru on his motorbike received a warm welcome from the city of Bonn officials and the executive management of the UN agencies in Germany. Following a round of discussions, Sadhguru joined the UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw for a live chat that was streamed across the UNCCD platforms. A yogi, mystic and visionary, Sadhguru has been named one of India’s 50 most influential people, whose work touched lives of millions worldwide. An engaging voice at major global fora that address issues of socioeconomic development, leadership and spirituality, he also initiated a number of large-scale projects focused on social revitalization, education and the environment, as a way to gave millions of people the means to overcome poverty, improve quality of life and achieve community-based sustainable development. The Save Soil movement strives to rally the environmentally-conscious around soil conservation, advocating the power of individual actions for policy change and public engagement. During their discussion, Sadhguru and Mr. Thiaw agreed that land and soil restoration can be a simple and powerful solution to the key environmental challenges of today, including climate change, biodiversity loss and destruction of ecosystems. Realizing that everything we need in our daily lives comes from soil and that conscious actions can make a real difference is the first step to preserving this precious resource and reversing degradation. The UNCCD and the Save Soil campaign will reconvene at the UNCCD COP15 in Abidjan on 9-20 May 2022. Remember to follow us for more news!

Save Soil campaign comes to Bonn