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Re-shape policies to transform food systems and end hunger

Nearly 670 million people will still be facing hunger in 2030 – 8 percent of the world population. This is equivalent to the population facing hunger in 2015 when Agenda 2030 was launched. What’s more, access to food is not necessarily leading to healthier eating, mainly because food and agricultural policies are not aligned with delivering healthy food. Governments need to repurpose food and agricultural policies to make healthy diets affordable. This is the conclusion of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022  (SOFI 2022) Report released Tuesday, 5 July 2022, by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). SOFI is published every year to track progress towards reaching the 2030 sustainable development goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms. The latest report presents an update on the situation of hunger and malnutrition around the world. Globally, between 720 million and 828 million people faced hunger in 2021, about 150 million more people since COVID-19 broke out. The last report identified conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks as the key drivers of hunger and malnutrition. To these, SOFI 2022 adds policies that lead to inequality. Policies are no longer having a significant effect in reducing hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms, SOFI 2022 states. And in fragile economies, there are constraints to using financial policies to transform agrifood systems. For instance, all over the world, financial support is directed mainly to produce staple foods, such as rice, sugar and meat, not fruits and vegetables. As a result, fruits and vegetables are more expensive and unaffordable. Moreover, food and agricultural policies are not aligned with the promotion of healthy diets. Further, the war in Ukraine is affecting supply chains, in turn raising the costs of fertilizer, energy, and food, such as grains, especially in the first half of 2022. Considering the unfolding challenging economic situation globally, the report states that public-private partnerships are needed to boost investment. However, partnerships require the support of a robust governance system to ensure vulnerable communities benefit, and not powerful industry players. The second edition of the Global Land Outlook (GLO2) released in April 2022 also calls attention to the issue of food insecurity. It spotlights the impacts of modern agriculture on food systems that alter the land and the impacts of globalizing food systems. Global food systems are responsible for 80% of deforestation, 70% of freshwater use, and the single greatest cause of terrestrial biodiversity loss. The disconnect between where food is produced and consumed is key. In the past, local consumption led to land degradation. Behind this rapid land use change today are the demand for food internationally and for urban communities. GLO2 urges the international community to re-think its global food systems. It calls for a turn to the sustainable management of the land, which experience shows can “both improve the productivity of the land and reduce the cost of food production.” The international community has committed to restore one billion hectares of land by 2030, an area the size of the United States or China. GLO2 points to hundreds of practical ways to carry out the desired ecosystem restoration at local, national and regional levels. This year’s SOFI report is a joint initiative of the FAO, International Food and Agriculture Development (IFAD), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The brief and full reports are now available online.

Re-shape policies to transform food systems and end hunger
Commonwealth takes a bold step towards climate resilience

The Commonwealth Living Lands Charter adopted on 25 June 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda, at the conclusion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is a bold step to build the resilience of nearly 2.5 billion Commonwealth citizens, or one-third of the global population. The Commonwealth Living Lands Charter: A Commonwealth Call to Action on Living Lands (CALL) expresses the will by leaders of the 54 member states of the Commonwealth to “voluntarily dedicate a ‘Living Land’ to future generations of every country with assured prosperity, sustenance and security.” It will be backed by CALL implementation plans to be developed by all Commonwealth nations. The Charter makes the strongest commitment yet to work on the global challenges of climate change, the loss of biodiversity and land degradation in a coordinated and synergistic way. Commonwealth leaders underlined the need to build natural resilience through biodiversity conservation in the face of climate change. The Charter also represents a significant contribution towards the achievement of global voluntary commitments to restore 1 billion hectares of degraded lands by 2030, with half of these pledges made under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Already, under the Land Degradation Neutrality targets, 21 Commonwealth countries committed to restoring 110 million hectares. Speaking on behalf of UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw at the high-level launch event in Kigali, Louise Baker, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, said: “The Living Lands charter offers Commonwealth countries a roadmap for greater resilience. In the face of climate change, it offers adaption and hope. In the face of environmental degradation, it offers restored ecosystems. In the face of food insecurity, it offers more production without more costly inputs. And in the face of economic turmoil, it offers reward. For every dollar invested we are seeing rates of return of at least 7-30 dollars from restoration.” Ms Baker acknowledged the leadership roles Commonwealth members are playing in large-scale land restoration projects, such as the Great Green Wall in the Sahel and the G20 Initiative on Land and Terrestrial Ecosystems. She also stressed that finance and a multisectoral, all of government approach will be key to getting “a tough job” done of restoring degrading land, saving biological diversity and limiting the Earth’s warming. “The Global Mechanism of UNCCD has launched a partnership for project preparation to work with strategic partners like the Commonwealth and with its Climate Finance Access Hub – and climate finance advisers – to deliver a pipeline of viable and bankable projects – that deliver for land and climate at the same time. The Global Mechanism is there to help nations put land at the heart of climate action,” Ms Baker added. According to UNCCD's flagship Global Land Outlook 2 report released in April 2022, up to 40% of all ice-free land is already degraded – meaning its benefits have been lost to varying degrees, with dire consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. Business as usual will, by 2050, result in degradation of 16 million square kilometers (almost the size of South America), with 69 gigatonnes of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. Land restoration is a powerful and cost-effective tool to address the interconnected climate, biodiversity and land crises, with economic returns estimated at US$ 125-140 trillion every year - as much as 1.5 times global GDP in 2021 (US$ 93 trillion).

Commonwealth takes a bold step towards climate resilience
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