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Media Advisory: Rising up together from drought

MEDIA ADVISORY Rising up from drought together is Spain’s call for Desertification and Drought Day on 17 June Bonn/Madrid, 13 June 2022 - Spain, one of the European countries most vulnerable to drought and water shortages linked to climate change, is hosting this year’s global observance of Desertification and Drought Day on 17 June. The event titled, “Rising up from drought together,” will take place at the Auditorio Museo Nacional Reina Sofia in Madrid. Drought is the theme for the Day this year. Media are invited to participate at the event organized by the Government of Spain and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), where renown scientists, issue experts, youth representatives and high-level policymakers from Spain and around the world will speak about: the role of science based on the drought risks identified for different climate change scenarios success stories of drought mitigation and adaptation in Spain and other countries. viable drought policies and their components Pedro Sánchez, President of the Government of Spain, Alain-Richard Donwahi, President of UNCCD COP15, Côte d'Ivoire, Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and Patricia Kombo, UNCCD Land Hero from Kenya are among the notable speakers (see full list below). Droughts are increasing in frequency and severity up 29 percent since 2000 and affecting an estimated 55 million people every year, according to the latest Drought in Numbers report from UNCCD. By 2050, drylands may cover between 50 to 60 percent of all land, with an estimated three-quarters of the world’s population living in these areas under conditions of severe water scarcity. The Horn of Africa, for example, is in its fourth year of drought. A similar drought in Southern Africa five years ago put 20 million people on the verge of starvation. This year Chile marked a record-breaking 13th year of drought. A prolonged drought in the United States that started in 2000 is the country’s driest period in over 1200 years. In the lead up to the 2022 Desertification and Drought Day, UNCCD launched Droughtland, a public awareness campaign featuring a fictional drought-stricken nation, to showcase solutions and rally global action to boost drought resilience. Detailed information, which includes the programme, media resources and background documents to facilitate coverage of the event, is provided below. Venue Auditorio Museo Nacional Reina Sofia, Rondo de Atocha, Madrid, Spain. Webcast Link: https://bit.ly/3Nw1Wgt (in the floor language) Streaming through Twitter and Facebook: @unccd Time Friday, 17 June 2022 11:00-14:00 hrs (CEST) /09:00-12:00 (GMT/UTC) Invited speakers Mr. Pedro Sánchez, President of the Government of Spain (Prime Minister)   Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Alain-Richard Donwahi, President of UNCCD COP15, Côte d'Ivoire   Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)  Mr Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Ms. Teresa Ribera, Third Vice-President of the government and Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Spain Ms. Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Ms. Skumsa Ntshanga, Ag. Deputy Director-General, Biodiversity and Conservation Branch, Ministry of Forests, Fisheries and Environment, South Africa Ms. Patricia Kombo, founder of the PaTree Initiative and UNCCD Land Hero Ms. María Jesús Rodríguez de Sancho, General Director of Biodiversity, Forestry and Desertification, Spain Mr. Pilar Paneque, leader of the Spanish Citizen Observatory of Drought and Professor of Human Geography, Pablo de Olavide University of Seville, Spain Ms. Attia Rafla, Director for Soil Resources. Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries of Tunisia.   Ms. Elena López Gunn, Chief Executive Officer, ICATALIST. Associate professor at IE Business School and collaborator of the Water Observatory, the Botín Foundation and the Basque Center for Climate Change, Spain   Mr. Mark Svoboda, Director of the National Center for Drought Monitoring in the United States Background Drought in Numbers, released on 11 May at the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP15) calls for making a full global commitment to drought preparedness and resilience in all global regions a top priority. The report was issued just days before The State of the Global Climate 2021 report released May 2022 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). According to the report, the past seven years have been the warmest seven years on record, and drought affected many parts of the world, including the Horn of Africa, Canada, the western United States, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Türkiye. Drought resilience was a top agenda item at UNCCD COP15. Countries agreed to boost drought resilience, and identified some of the key actions. They will identify the areas that could turn into drylands, improve national policies, including on early warning, monitoring and assessment, learn and share knowledge, build partnerships and coordinate action, and mobilize drought finance. In addition, they will set up an Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought for 2022-2024 to look into possible options, including global policy instruments and regional policy frameworks, to support a shift from reactive to proactive drought management. The Working Group reports released earlier this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as part of the Sixth Assessment Report warn that we have up to 2030 to take actions to get us on track to staying within a temperature rise of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Warming above that level would have catastrophic impacts on both people and the planet. Notes to Editors International journalists travelling to Spain to cover the event need be registered, and should email: bzn-prensa@miteco.es and copy wwischnewski@unccd.int. A copy of your valid press card and passport will be required to pick your access card. Download various materials here (https://bit.ly/3xd4IjC): b-roll on the drought in Eastern Africa (https://bit.ly/3Pw6ULm). Credit UNCCD. human interest stories gathered in March 2022 in Turkana County, Kenya (https://bit.ly/3m7NoaG). Credit UNCCD. Images of drought impacts in Northern Kenya (https://bit.ly/39aWW1w). Credit UNCCD. Videos and assets from the Droughtland campaign (https://bit.ly/3zvCfsb) Credit UNCCD Images of the event in Spain will be uploaded here (https://bit.ly/3xBtCuI). Social Media Twitter: @TourDroughtland Instagram: @TourDroughtland Hashtags: #Nodroughtland   #UNited4Land Download social media assets, including banners, infographics, cartoons and postcards: https://bit.ly/3PZBzAX Learn more about the campaign: droughtland.com  For information about Desertification and Drought Day visit: https://www.unccd.int/2022-desertification-and-drought-day For information about Desertification and Drought Day events in Spain and around the world, contact Xenya Scanlon, Chief of Communications, UNCCD: xscanlon@unccd.int For media related inquires: On site contact: Alejandro Gomez, argomez@miteco.es Virtually: Wagaki Wischnewski, wwischnewski@unccd.int, +49 173 268 7593 (m) About UNCCD 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.

Media Advisory: Rising up together from drought
Spain to host Desertification and Drought Day 2022

Drought, with a focus on early action to prevent disastrous outcomes, is the theme of the Desertification and Drought Day marked on 17 June 2022. The global observance of the event will take place in Madrid, Spain, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has announced. Announcing the theme of 2022 Desertification and Drought Day “Rising up from drought together”, Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, said: “Droughts have been part of human and natural systems, but what we are experiencing now is much worse, largely due to human activity. Recent droughts point at a precarious future for the world. Food and water shortages as well as wildfires caused by the severe drought have all intensified in recent years.” Between 1900 and 2019, droughts impacted 2.7 billion people in the world, and caused 11.7 million deaths. Currently, forecasts estimate that by 2050 droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population. “Spain is honoured to be hosting this year’s Desertification and Drought Day that puts the global spotlight on the urgent issue of drought. Drought is not just the absence of rain; it is often fueled by land degradation and climate change. Together, we can overcome its devastating effects on people and nature around the world and start preparing now to drought-proof our future,” said Teresa Ribera Rodríguez, Vice-President of the Government of Spain and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge. The latest scientific assessments projecting more frequent and more severe droughts in the future and evidence of their increasing impacts has prompted governments to focus on more robust and predictable international commitment and action. Since 2017, the UNCCD and its partners supported about 70 drought-prone countries to develop national action plans to reduce drought disasters. Among the top priorities of the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD (COP15) taking place from 9-20 May 2022 Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Parties will  discuss on  the way forward for drought preparedness and resilience globally. Officially declared by the UN General Assembly in 1997 (Resolution A/RES/49/115), the annual Desertification and Drought Day has three objectives. First, to promote public awareness about desertification and drought. Second, to let people know that desertification and drought can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and cooperation at all levels. Lastly, to strengthen implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.  Download campaign assets here. Share your DDDay event with us by sending a brief one paragraph description with an event photo or a poster to communications@unccd.int For more information about Desertification and Drought Day 2022, visit: https://www.unccd.int/events/desertification-drought-day or contact: Xenya Scanlon, UNCCD Chief of Communications Email: xscanlon@unccd.int

Spain to host Desertification and Drought Day 2022
The weather alone cannot explain droughts and floods

Communities all over the world have suffered some of the most brutal effects of drought and flooding this year. Flash floods in western Europe, eastern and central Asia and southern African. And catastrophic drought in Australia, southern Africa, southern Asia, much of Latin America, western North America and Siberia are cases in point. The impacts extend well beyond the individual events. For example, the rise in food insecurity in the southern African region and unprecedented wildfires in North America, Europe and Central Asia.   What is going on? This is much more than bad weather in some cases, and is increasingly so. The UNCCD organized an event at COP26, the Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow, United Kingdom, to focus attention on the land-water-climate nexus. The science and policy responses discussed make it clear that human decisions exacerbated by climate change are significantly – and arguably, catastrophically – amplifying the impact of drought and floods.  The discussion encouraged more strategic land use decisions. Decisions that ensure what we do where, and in particular, what we plant where, mitigatesthe impacts of both extremes, be it too much or too little rainfall. It also shed light on how important it is to have healthy soils. Soils that are replete with organic matter will obtain “more crop per drop”, and reduce the risks associated with drought and flooding.  Extreme events, including both droughts and floods are on the rise. With more land projected to be get drier and more and more people living in drylandsin the future, the discussions centered on the shift more than 60 countries are making from “reactive” response to droughts and floods to “proactive” planning and risk management designed to build resilience. Participants from Malawi, Pakistan, Honduras, Grenada and Burkina Faso provided concrete examples of policy alignment and cross-sectorial approaches to implementation. Here is a quick overview of the highlights. Read more:  Land and drought

The weather alone cannot explain droughts and floods
Portrait of the week: Zhai Mo

Renowned explorer and environmentalist Zhai Mo set sail on 30 June to journey around the Arctic Ocean and raise awareness on the links between climate change and land degradation. The journey that has been made possible for the first time in human history due to global warming and the melting of Arctic ice caps is a momentous opportunity to call the world's attention to the impact that human activities have on the environment – particularly the Arctic, which is the second largest polar desert in the world after Antarctica. Zhai Mo was recently named “UNCCD Supporter – Arctic Adventurer for 2021 Desertification and Drought Day.” Captain Zhai Mo will travel from Shanghai across the East Sea, the Western Pacific, the Bering Strait, the Chukchi Sea, the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea, the Kerala Sea, the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the Greenland Sea, the Davis Strait, the Gulf of Baffin and the Bofert Sea to complete a journey of more than 18,000 nautical miles in about 128 days.  Zhai Mo is the Ambassador of China's Maritime Science and Technology, National Marine Public Interest Image Ambassador, recipient of the Zheng He Marine Special Contribution Award, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Chinese Society of Navigation. In2015, he completed the "Re-Walking the Maritime Silk Road." We will follow his Arctic expedition with frequent updates. Stay tuned!

Portrait of the week: Zhai Mo
COP14 Bureau opening remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw

Madam President, Dear Bureau members, It is, as ever, a pleasure to speak to you and work with you, regardless of the distance the pandemic has forced upon us. I hope that everyone is holding up during what has been a long and wearying period for us all. I commend your continued commitment to our Convention. Your dedication remains essential, as UNCCD is growing ever more and as land is part of the solution in these times of great turmoil. If we fulfill our mandate to protect, manage, and restore the land, the benefits will be immense towards building a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world. We will accelerate recovery from the COVID-19 economic crisis. Reduce the risk of future pandemics. Slow climate change and protect biodiversity. Free millions of people from poverty and hunger. Help to create a world of peace, prosperity, and equity. Madam President, More than ever before, we need solidarity, hope but also tough political choices and innovative policy action to see this crisis through together.  Allow me to give a brief update of our activities so far before addressing today’s agenda. Regarding the Secretariat and Global Mechanism, I am pleased to report that our staff and families are doing well overall. In unison with the rest of the UN in Bonn, I have continued to take all precautionary measures that are intended to protect the safety, health, and well-being of UNCCD staff with regard to COVID19. This has been a top priority for me and the management team. I have been inspired by how our work has continued uninterrupted, enabling the Convention to continue to play an active global role. I am thankful to my staff for their enduring dedication. Our work in 2020 and 2021 is not, in any form, on hold.  We now have a strong Management Team which I am very proud of, with more women into leadership positions. I am proud that we achieved gender parity in just one year, with 54% women as senior leaders. Overall, women now represent 57% of the UNCCD labor force. Together with the management team, we have created a consensus around simplification, decentralization, and flexibility to be more nimble, efficient, and effective by adopting for the first time in the Secretariat’s history a Delegation of Authority policy. At global level, never has the need for land restoration been more crucial. In the midst of the pandemic, a window of hope and opportunity has opened for our Parties: a chance to recover better. The UNCCD Secretariat has focused its attention on key strategic partnerships. At our last Bureau meeting, I informed you about the G20 Global Initiative on Land. We are in advanced discussions with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the funding agreement and we will soon set up the Initiative Coordination Office. Italy which holds the G20 Presidency this year, is also very much interested in Sustainable Land Management. I would like to use this opportunity to thank G20 countries who are also members of the Bureau for their instrumental support. On January 11, at the One Planet Summit organized in Paris, the Africa’s Great Green Wall received a major boost from donors and partners. For the first time ever, there was a clear recognition that land restoration can have multiple positive impacts. To the ecology, to society, to the economy. Close to USD 17 billion have now been pledged. The UNCCD has been requested to provide technical support to provide enabling conditions for an accelerated implementation on the ground. Madam President, Covid-19 has not postponed the need for Parties to accelerate work towards fulfilling commitments they have already made. We understand the Indian Government is completing the process for the implementation of Prime Minister Modi’s vision shared at COP14 in New Delhi, to restore 26M ha of land by 2030. Furthermore, you may have noted the recent announcement by Prince Mohamed Ben Salman of Saudi Arabia about a national and a regional initiative to restore 240 M ha of degraded land across the Kingdom and the Middle East region. We are in contact with Saudi Arabia to better understand their plans and provide as much support as we can. The implementation of the Land Degradation Neutrality is ongoing in 104 out of the 127 countries that submitted their national commitments.  The Global Mechanism is developing a new business model to cope with the growing and complex demands from Parties. Madam President, Land restoration is clearly gaining momentum. Itis low-tech and a cheap solution to climate from the perspective of carbon sequestration. We will need to continue to make the case, and convince major players, notably from the private sector for a more sustainable production. Of particular importance are the producers of food, feed, and fiber. We also need to see major improvements on the consumption side. One imminent opportunity we have is the High-Level Dialogue at the UN General Assembly on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought which is scheduled to take place on 20 May. The President of the UN General Assembly is fully committed to working with all Members States, at the highest level, in order to make this event a success, with a lasting legacy. We need your full support to make this Dialogue a successful one. On 17 June, the world will celebrate the Desertification and Drought Day, with Costa Rica as the global host. The theme focuses on the contribution of Land Restoration to the Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery. I am very pleased with the positive response we have received so far both from the public and the private sectors. At our next Bureau meeting, I intend to inform you about great progress being made in improving the reporting tools, including through the establishment of a geo-spatial platform. There are also important development shaping up in other sectors, such as the Science Policy Interface as well as Capacity Building and Innovation. Our staff have been very busy and creative, despite the lockdown. But in the interest of time, I will have to come back to these on another occasion. Madame President, Covid-19 has revealed the world’s vulnerabilities, many of which intersect with the land crisis. At the same time, it has highlighted the importance of expertise and science, cooperation, information and solidarity. And it has also, in many cases, demonstrated that land is part of the solution and can help steer the recovery towards a safer, more sustainable, and inclusive path. We stand ready to continue supporting Parties, now and beyond COVID-19. This brings me to today’s agenda. We will discuss the date and place of COP15, a key decision for the Convention. You will also hear a report by the Chair of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC). I would like to take this opportunity to warmly welcome Mr. Andrew Bishop. Mr. Bishop is not new to the UNCCD process as he served as Guyana’s national focal point in the past. Finally, you will hear a report by the Chair of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST). Madame President, Parties had requested us to organize COP15 in Bonn, or another venue, in autumn of this year. Considering the ongoing, worldwide effects of COVID-19, holding an ambitious, inclusive COP15 in 2021 may no longer possible. The pandemic has disrupted our plans. You have in front of view, under agenda item II, a note on the status of preparations for COP15 to inform your decision on the best course of action for a successful COP, moving forward. The note includes options for rescheduling COP15. Rescheduling will ensure all Parties can focus on the issues to be discussed at this key conference and allow more time for the necessary preparations to take place, taking into account safety and security. We will continue to work with all of you and hope to be able to get your views and guidance on: The postponement of COP15 to 2022 The organization of an online process for Parties to decide on an interim budget for 2022 Your decision today will help us engage further our host country with regard the rescheduling of COP15 in 2022. This, of course, does not exclude the possibility of a third party expressing interest to preside or host COP15, regardless of your decision on the date of the COP. We know that many countries are already in the process of developing their Post-Pandemic recovery plans. It would be strategic for our Conference of the Parties to be held on time, to actively contribute to policy making and guide pro-land investments and policies. The Second Edition of the Global Land Outlook is designed to serve as a good reference in that respect. On CRIC19, while I will leave the details to our able Chair, let me just say how pleased I was with the outcomes. The meeting confirmed that the work we do under this Convention is essential to protecting, managing, and restoring healthy land. And that we can only fulfill the land’s full potential if we do it together. Thanks again to all of you, a total of 138 Parties, 9 UN agencies, 15 Intergovernmental Organizations, and 63 civil society organizations took part in the debates, over a course of five days. Regarding the report by the CST Chair, there are a lot of important activities and updates that the Chair will be presenting. It is always heartening to see collaboration, both internal and external. And this struck me as a key positive note of the report. As I said earlier, we must all seek to reach beyond the confines of our Convention to engage every ministry, business, investor, UN agency and process that impacts on the land. So, the CST coordination with the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is most welcome and much appreciated. Madame President, The Secretariat is very much looking forward to a successful and productive meeting. Thank you.

COP14 Bureau opening remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw