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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
Restored land, healthy people, green recovery

Protecting and restoring nature can help drive a green recovery and prevent future pandemics. Investing in nature-based solutions, specifically land restoration, will allow us to build forward better, greener, healthier, stronger, and more sustainably. COVID-19 has revealed how vulnerable our societies and economies are to global, systemic risk. Its root causes - land degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change – are interlinked. Furthermore, they are planetary crises in themselves. The pandemic, rooted as it is in exploitation of the environment, has been a devastating but timely wake-up call. It has shown that if we continue to abuse nature, waves of crises will cascade across our economies and societies. On the other hand, it has also shown that we can respond decisively when political will, collective action and sustained investment are aligned. Today, more than ever, societies are ready for change; there is broad consensus that it is not only desirable but possible to build forward better, towards sustainable development anchored in multilateralism and global solidarity. Land restoration is an essential component of any building-forward strategy. In preparation for the UN PGA High-level event on desertification, land degradation and drought, the UNCCD secretariat prepared a brief that presents land-centered solutions for green recovery post COVID-19. Read more: High-level dialogue on desertification, land degradation and drought Role of land in COVID response  

Restored land, healthy people, green recovery
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
International Day of Forests 2021

Statement by UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw: This year’s International Day of Forests theme of ‘Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being’ emphasizes the role forests must play in building a better, heathier and more equitable world as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  We need forests to absorb our emitted carbon dioxide, to stabilize rainfall patterns, lower temperatures, and to hold back desertification. Yet, we continue to destroy them: an alarming fifty million hectares of forests have been lost between 2015 and 2020. Research suggests tree mortality in some forests has doubled in recent decades as a result of a drying climate and chronic anthropogenic disturbance. Ensuring that forests don’t just survive but thrive is a cornerstone of the UNCCD’s mandate to achieve land degradation neutrality. The seedlings and saplings we plant today will support our well-being for generations to come.  Africa’s Great Green Wall across the Sahel has the potential to transform the lives of millions of humanity’s most vulnerable people. By creating a mosaic of green and productive landscapes, it can provide stability, livelihoods and a path out of poverty. We’ll create green jobs, harnessing the Sahel’s abundant solar energy to power a future for those most at risk. We are not just planting trees –we are planting hope for the most vulnerable – women and youth.  We can restore forests and restore hope, in tandem. We can turn the economic catastrophe of the COVID-19 pandemic into a better, heathier and more equitable world. Forests are also threatened by human conflict. In politically unstable situations, the management of natural resources is challenging. Rapid reconstruction often neglects sustainable management of natural resources, undermining future peace. The Peace Forest Initiative, launched at UNCCD COP 14, aims to nurture collective efforts for cross-border cooperation on ecosystem restoration including forests, linking stability and peace to land degradation neutrality. This year, let us reaffirm our will to act. Seeing our forests renewed will help humanity recover better, become more resilient, and restore our planet’s health – for all our futures. Read more Forests at the heart of land degradation neutrality Great Green Wall of Africa Peace Forest Initiative

International Day of Forests 2021