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2nd intersessional meeting of the CST16 Bureau: Remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw

Dear colleagues, Alarmed again by the worldwide extreme heat-wave, drought and water scarcity, the world is at a critical moment. We are at the critical important moment to move forward from the COP commitments and decisions to actions.  Among them is the decision to further scientific guidance. But the major task of this Committee on Science and Technology (CST) Bureau meeting is the renewal of Science-Policy Interface (SPI). 217 applications received – symbolizes the raising awareness of the importance of Land and drought issues and the interlinkage between land, and climate change and food, water and energy of our daily life. This is a fundamental step to ensure highly competitive and qualified, full geographically represented and gender balanced expertise to join in the UNCCD’s science policy interface and to dedicate to Land and Drought agenda. So I have three key messages related to that: First, Keep addressing key bottlenecks that require focused science if we are to help countries address DLDD, achieve LDN, and enhance drought resistance Second, Consider innovation, because innovation starts with current science I see some young scientists around the table - I hope the promising young generation could also play a role to bring more innovative views in the process of science policy interfacing. Last but not least - Do all you can to achieve gender parity in the SPI membership. It will not be easy, but is absolutely necessary. To enable synchronization with and joint efforts of all relevant processes, we need to improve cooperation with relevant scientific bodies and panels including major reports of IPCC, IPBES, ITPS, IDMP and UNEP-IRP.  I am glad to know, there are also quite some female scientists. This a good basis for you to achieve gender parity in the SPI membership, which will not be easy, but is absolutely necessary. I am glad that the CST bureau will also discuss on the CST’s intersessional workplan, including improvement of the Role of CST and SPI in translating science into policy and communication messages to general public. We all know without involvement of public, there will be no transition to sustainable development. I am looking forward you discussion and guidance on how we can maximize participation of the Science Technology Correspondents (STCs) into the work of CST and CRIC.   The STCs are working on science on ground, who are understanding more on the social economic and ecological realities, scientific demand, and challenges in the communities. Their voice need be heard, their contributions are of valuable for transition on ground. I wish you a successful meeting.

2nd intersessional meeting of the CST16 Bureau: Remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw
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: Nature Bodies India

This team of students from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh is committed to raising awareness on sustainable agriculture and knowledge of plant properties through workshops on organic farming organic and composting under the hashtag #ExploreGreenTreasure.  They focus on empowering young people and communities to choose environment-friendly alternatives when planting a garden or buying food. In 2019 and 2020, the team planted more than 1478 saplings on school grounds and in various public space in nearby villages.  They are also planning to scale up their seed ball initiative to create a seed nursery to promote local plant varieties while making the plant material accessible for more people.   Recently, the climate impact app Captain Cool app that the team developed has been featured in the press. The app helps calculate the carbon footprint of daily activities, such as watching TV, charging mobile devices or using a washing machine, so that the users can make better and greener lifestyle choices. Instagram: @nature.bodies  Twitter: @BodiesNature  Facebook: @NATUREBODIESECOCLUB 

Portrait of the week: Nature Bodies India
Sustainable alternatives to tobacco growing for health and land

As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, one fact has never been more evident – our world, our planet and our lives are inextricably interconnected. There are very few issues that can be considered simply “health problems,” as nearly every aspect of life is connected to other societal, economic and environmental issues. While we recognize the negative impact of tobacco on our health, we tend to think less frequently about the economic impact of tobacco use on health costs and productivity losses. What is even less well known is how tremendously destructive tobacco cultivation and tobacco use is for the environment – on land, water and air.

Sustainable alternatives to tobacco growing for health and land
Portrait of the week: Patricia Kombo

Patricia Kombo is a young social entrepreneur and a climate activist from Kenya. She studied journalism at Moi University and is known for her tree planting activities, especially her nonprofit PaTree Initiative that planted over 10,000 trees as of 2020. She is actively engaging school students in tree planting and nature conservation and strongly believes in educating them on the benefits of sustainable living. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Patricia raised 10 000 saplings from indigenous seeds in her nursery. Working with her community, she set up kitchen gardens and gave trainings on sustainable farming and land conservation to help achieve zero hunger, eliminate poverty and promote gender equality. Find Patricia on: Facebook: @patreeinitiative Twitter: @patriciakombo  Instagram: @pattykomboh

Portrait of the week: Patricia Kombo
Countries advance toward visualizing key data

At least 90 countries have already set voluntary national targets to restore more than 450 million hectares of land under UNCCD – the largest global restoration initiative and a significant milestone for the Convention. But where is the land that is being restored? How many people will benefit from land restoration? What social, economic and environmental gains will communities in these areas receive from all this work?

Countries advance toward visualizing key data