News & stories
Latest news & stories
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: firstname.lastname@example.org and copy email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org For media related inquires: On site contact: Alejandro Gomez, email@example.com Virtually: Wagaki Wischnewski, firstname.lastname@example.org, +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.
Turkana in northern Kenya is one of the driest regions of the East African nation. This 77,000 square kilometre county receives an average of just 200mm of rain annually, compared to a national average of 680mm. And with three consecutive rain seasons failing since 2020, many residents are now faced with food scarcity, one of the painful effects of an ongoing drought. According to Peter Eripete, Turkana County’s Head of Public Service, the effects of drought are hardest felt by the residents who are mainly pastoralists. Their reliance on livestock means that when their livestock die, their income levels fall drastically, affecting entire families’ food security. In Kangirenga Village in Katilu, an administrative Ward in southern Turkana, we found Lokutan Amaler preparing her only meal for the day - boiled maize. Food has been hard to come by for Lokutan and her family. “I had nothing to eat. All my food storage containers are empty. If I had not received this maize from a well wisher, I would not have had anything to eat today” Lokutan explained as she stirred the boiling maize in a cooking pot over a three-stone fire. Traditionally, the Turkana people have always been dependent on their livestock for sustenance. Whenever they need to buy foodstuffs or household supplies, they sell a goat or cow at the market and with the money received, make the necessary purchases. But with the shortage of rains leading to a lack of pasture, many cows, goats and even camels have died, leading to a loss of income for many across this vast county. To get out of the recurring cycle of lack of food whenever drought visits, a few people have now diversified their sources of sustenance. Lokutan has planted green grams a short walk from her home. Her garden is part of a 10-acre agriculture project initiated by Panafricaire. Eunice Eseison, who coordinates the farming project for Panafricaire says “Convincing the residents to take up farming was an uphill task. Though a few saw the sense it made, it took us very long to convince many that farming was something they could do profitably because it went against their culture”. But with time, those who enrolled in the project including Lokutan have seen the benefits after finding an alternative source of food at every harvest, and income when the excess is sold in the local market. While the work done by organizations like PanAfricaire to mitigate the effects of drought are commendable, food security still remains a concern in Turkana. Greater investments are needed to have more land under cultivation with improved farming practices that will increase productivity from the land. This will allow greater year-round harvests for Lokutan and other farmers, ensuring that they are always cushioned from the harmful effects of the drought.
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 email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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!