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The 15th session of the Committee on Science and Technology convenes at UNCCD COP15 

Announced by the Chair of the CST, Mr. Masuku Bongani from Eswatini, the CST15 of the UNCCD opened on 11 May 2022 with UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw highlighting that science has a unique role in creating sustainable future of land resources by providing evidence, informing the decision makers and mobilizing action.  Mr. Thiaw recognized the commitment of the Bureau of the CST and the Science Policy Interface (SPI) members over the 2020-2021 biennium to enhance the scientific foundation for policy development, as evidenced in the assessments 1) on the role of integrated land use planning and landscape management in achieving Land Degradation Neutrality; 20 on approaches for monitoring and assessment of the resilience of the ecosystems and population to drought and 30 the comprehensive analysis on two IPCC reports. The future work programme of the SPI for 2022-2023 includes assessments on sustainable land use systems and historical regional and global aridity trends and future projections.  In the first plenary of the CST15, after the adoption of the agenda, the Committee on Science and Technology commenced its thematic dialogue with the SPI on the outcomes achieved in the biennium 2020-2021, starting with the evidence resulting from its two assessments on the integrated land use planning and landscape management, and the assessment on resilience of ecosystems and population to drought. To continue work on these two key topics, the CST contact group was established and held its first meeting to discuss the draft decision text to be submitted to the COP for consideration.   On 12 May, the second plenary of the CST continued a thematic dialogue on the SPI’s comprehensive analysis on the IPCC reports. A follow-up plenary discussion reconvened on the issue of science-policy-interfacing modalities, accessibility to and dissemination of the best practices and the proposed SPI future work programme.   The afternoon session of the fourth plenary of the CST15 addressed the joint report by the CST and the CRIC on reporting modalities on land degradation and drought for implementation of the UNCCD Strategic Framework 2018-2030, which guides parties in the next cycle of national reporting. The second topic of the 4th plenary is the procedural matters on the programme work of the CST16. The CST-CRIC joint contact group meeting continues its work on 13 May until completion of all draft decisions. Then the CST contact group will continue its negotiation.  The last plenary of the CST15 is scheduled in the afternoon of 13 May to adopt the report to the COP including the CST draft decisions and the vice chairs of the CST16.  The chair of the CST will be elected at the final meeting of the COP15.  To promote the key role of scientific evidence-based policy-oriented recommendations in UNCCD implementation, drought resilience and sustainable land management, the Science-Policy Interface will be hosting a Science-Day at the UNCCD COP5 Rio Conventions Pavilion on Saturday 14 May.   

The 15th session of the Committee on Science and Technology convenes at UNCCD COP15 
UNCCD and WOCAT collaborate to improve SLM gender responsiveness

Gender equality is a key entry-point for Sustainable Land Management (SLM) and UNCCD together with WOCAT are working to improve gender-responsiveness of SLM practices. Direct and indirect gender-related barriers prevent women from adopting SLM practices. These barriers include land tenure insecurity; land availability; education or literacy levels; access to seeds, fertilizers, or extension services; and access to technologies and financing. As a result, women adopt SLM technologies at a rate that is typically lower and slower than that of men. In line with the UNCCD Gender Action Plan (GAP) and guided by the idea to build back better, the aim of this UNCCD-WOCAT project is to: Add a gender lens to SLM technologies and appraoches and  assess their gender-responsiveness Evaluate how gender-responsiveness of SLM Technologies and Approaches can be improved, stepping up adoption and dissemination, making SLM beneficial for women and men alike. This will support project planners, designers and implementers to identify, realize and scale gender-responsive SLM Technologies and Approaches within the framework of LD/SLM and LDN projects and programmes as well as promote the implementation of gender-responsive SLM practices in the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. Phase 1: Development of Gender-responsive SLM tool In the first phase, WOCAT and UNCCD designed a tool that helps to test the gender-responsiveness of SLM Technologies and Approaches and to identify areas of improvement to support project planners, designers, and implementers in their effort to scale up SLM Technologies and Approaches that are gender-responsive.  The gender-responsive SLM tool was reviewed during a UNCCD-WOCAT consultation  workshop with experts from different organizations and regions, resulting in the fine-tuning of the tool.  Currently, the tool is being tested with WOCAT network partners in more than 10 countries around the globe, supporting it further refinement and facilitating a first round of data collection. Data will be analysed and presented in the form of SLM Gender Profiles, showcasing women and men's involvement in different SLM Technologies and providing insights and recommendations on the improvement of SLM Technologies and related Approaches in view of gender equality and women empowerment. Phase 2: New gender module added to WOCAT Database (start mid-2022) The Global WOCAT SLM Database will be enhanced with a new “gender module”, i.e. the gender-responsive SLM tool will be integrated into the Database. This will allow:  An online assessment of the gender-responsiveness of SLM Technologies and Approaches; and  The search for gender-responsive SLM Technologies and Approaches.  The gender module will be promoted and disseminated and interested partners and institutions trained in its application.

UNCCD and WOCAT collaborate to improve SLM gender responsiveness
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
Celebrating Changwon Initiative 10th anniversary

A decade ago at the UNCCD COP10 in Changwon, two key ideas in the UNCCD process were rolled out: the “Changwon Initiative” and the global target of “zero net land degradation.” The initiative has been instrumental in materializing this new vision of a land-degradation neutral world and played a pivotal role in developing the Land Degradation Neutrality concept, supporting advocacy within the international community and ensuring its reflection in Sustainable Development Goals through SDG 15.3. The Changwon Initiative also supported national voluntary target setting processes to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN), leading to more than 100 countries’ participation. It has also contributed to the preparation of action-oriented projects and programmes to facilitate the implementation of LDN on the ground. Land-based solutions are among the most efficient and effective ways to safeguard nature and human beings: land restoration can be an important solution for mitigation and adaptation to climate change and biodiversity loss. Furthermore, it can contribute to job creation and food security. A land degradation-neutral world by 2030, which is the vision of the Changwon Initiative, can be an important stepping stone toward restoring balance with nature and realize the Sustainable Development Goals. As we celebrate the achievements of the Changwon Initiative over the past 10 years, there is a great expectation that the Initiative will continue to act as an accelerator in addressing land degradation neutrality and making a positive impact for a better future for people and the planet. Read more: The Changwon Initiative LDN target-setting programme Land and the SDGs

Celebrating Changwon Initiative 10th anniversary
Song and video contests launched for Changwon Initiative celebration

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Changwon Initiative, UNCCD and Korea Forest Service are launching two global contests: a virtual choir competition and a video contest to to promote efforts to combat desertification and restore degraded lands and forests. The submission deadline is 30 September 2021. The winners will be announced at the anniversary ceremony in Changwon, South Korea on 15 October 2021 and will receive cash and other prizes.  How to enter: Virtual choir competition Video contest  

Song and video contests launched for Changwon Initiative celebration