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The frequency of sand and dust storms (SDS) is on the rise in various regions across the globe. This rise is attributed to factors such as human-driven climate change, desertification, land degradation, and persistent droughts. These storms occur when strong winds lift large amounts of sand and dust from dry, arid soils into the atmosphere. They often carry these particles long distances, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of kilometers. The effects of these storms are widespread and often devastating. The World Health Organization estimates that 7 million people die from poor air quality every year, which is at least partly attributed to dust. Sand and dust storms pose numerous threats to human health, disrupt livelihoods, and wreak havoc on the environment. Managing these impacts is a major challenge, as human activity, and desertification in one region can trigger sand and dust storms that cause significant damage in remote regions. Recognizing the urgent need for international cooperation to address SDS, the General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/77/294) on 8 June 2023, designating 12 July as the International Day to Combat Sand and Dust Storms. This day is intended to raise awareness of the link between health and sustainability in the context of SDS. To mark the first observance of the International Day to Combat SDS, several events were organized around the world. The “Commemoration of the International Day of Combating Sand and Dust Storms” event, co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Senegal at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, featured various speakers from organizations collaborating in the UN SDS Coalition. At the same time, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) hosted a series of regional webinars bringing together stakeholders from different regions. In line with the observation of the day, the UNCCD launched the new SDS Toolbox, a result of its collaboration with SDS Coalition partners. The toolbox provides a comprehensive set of tools, strategies, and guidelines for understanding and mitigating the impact of SDS. Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, extended a warm welcome to this initiative, stating, "We welcome the focus and efforts to raise awareness of this serious phenomenon. It shows how desertification and drought can have far-reaching effects beyond national borders and underlines the crucial role of cooperation in addressing these issues. We anticipate that the newly launched SDS Toolbox will foster much-needed collaboration by providing tools and guidance to our stakeholders." During the commemoration of the International Day to Combat SDS in New York, representatives of the SDS Coalition discussed ways to strengthen cooperation between the Coalition and various national and regional initiatives. They emphasized that regional cooperation is essential to address the transboundary nature of sand and dust storms and their impacts, and that regional action can complement national efforts to achieve sustainable development goals. See also: General Assembly Proclaims 12 July International Day of Combating Sand and Dust Storms, Aiming to Raise Awareness about Importance for Health, Sustainability SDS toolbox
From potatoes grown in recycled sacks to “more crop per drop” fruit tree varieties, climate-smart and women-led agriculture initiatives became the center of discussions at a recent interregional conference convened by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Fertile land is a precious commodity in Tajikistan, where 90% of the country's territory is covered by mountains and 60% of the population directly depend on agriculture for livelihood. Agriculture is a major part of Tajikistan’s economy. Can you spot the colors of one of its best-loved crops in the stripes of the national flag? As heatwaves, droughts and other extreme climate events become more frequent and severe across the globe, regional cooperation and knowledge sharing are becoming a priority in building drought resilience and fighting land degradation. In response to these growing challenges, representatives of Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan met in Dushanbe, Tajikistan from 1-2 July 2023 to discuss upscaling and coordinating legislative, educational, scientific and technical cooperation aimed at achieving Land Degradation Neutrality. Water is so precious in Central Asia, some say it’s worth more than gold. Burrowing deep into the soil, this well in the Gissar Valley carries water that contains trace amounts of the precious metal “Though we come from different climates and landscapes, we are united in the face of climate-induced drought and land degradation. Women who develop and test climate-smart and cost-effective solutions locally should be the ones spearheading regional and global efforts to grow and protect our food in the times of climactic stress,” participants stated. Reflecting the theme of this year's Desertification and Drought Day “Her Land. Her Rights”, discussions centered on the key role of civil society organizations, particularly those led by women, in harnessing donor financing and advancing legislative action in support of gender-responsive land restoration projects that provide sustainable rural livelihoods. Apples are the most popular fruit worldwide, and so are new ways to grow them more efficiently After attending a training series at the Youth Ecological Center in Dushanbe, Mavluda Akhmedova is using the technology of growing potatoes directly in recycled sacks on her homestead in the Dekhanabod village. This approach has proven particularly effective as more frequent and sudden heatwaves and droughts in Tajikistan raise the risk of harvest loss. Growing potatoes in sacks lets the farmers control the temperature and humidity better and is of particular use on small plots where growing space is at a premium. Greenhouses at the Agricultural University in Dushanbe use the latest technology, encouraging the students to test new approaches to efficient and sustainable crop production During a visit to an experimental farm in the Gissar District, participants learned how students from Agricultural University in Dushanbe test classroom knowledge to implement the “more crop per drop” approach on their 800 hectares under tillage, including a fruit orchard, a vineyard and pasture. Nothing tastes better than bread fresh from the oven! Farm-to-table is the way of life at the experimental farm of the Agricultural University of Dushanbe The university hopes that new investments and focus on research, smart tech and innovation will bring more female students to the classrooms and labs. Using compact varieties of fruit trees combined with drip irrigation means less water, less labour and less land are needed to produce comparable crop yields By the end of 2023, Tajikistan intends to complete the process of joining the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Target-setting programme, bringing the number of countries who set voluntary LDN targets to 130, including all Central Asian nations. Furthermore, participation in the World Bank’s RESILAND CA+ Initiative will allow Tajikistan to access the knowledge base of other engaged countries – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan – and train forest management and rangelands biodiversity specialists. Women are expected to become the majority of RESILAND CA+ projects’ participants and beneficiaries. Photography by Didor Sadulloev via UNDP Tajikistan
Under the theme “Her Land. Her Rights,” the focus of this year’s Desertification and Drought Day, marked worldwide on 17 June, is on women’s land rights as a key element of achieving the connected global goals of gender equality and land degradation neutrality by 2030. While land is the most critical economic resource for most rural poor, women around the world are less likely to own or control land than men, which exposes them to poverty, hunger, gender-based violence and displacement. “Women are major actors in the global efforts to reduce and reverse land degradation. They restore land, they protect land, they cherish, nourish and care for the land, while also caring for others. However, in the vast majority of countries, women have unequal and limited access to and control over land. We cannot achieve land degradation neutrality without gender equality, and we cannot exclude half the population from land management decisions because of their gender." – Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary Investing in women’s equal access to land and associated assets is a direct investment in their future and the future of humanity. UNCCD will reaffirm its commitment to gender equality with these Desertification and Drought Day 2023 objectives: Raise awareness of the disproportionate impact of desertification, land degradation and drought on women and girls and the barriers they face in decision-making on land issues Highlight women's contributions to sustainable land management and broader SDGs Mobilize global support to advance land rights for women and girls around the world “Solving gender inequalities is not just the right thing to do. If we ensure that women are fully able to use their abilities, knowledge, talents, and leadership potential, our societies are simply better off.” – Former President of Finland, Tarja Halonen UNCCD Land Ambassador This year’s global observance of Desertification and Drought Day will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, with events taking place in all parts of the world. Together with UN partners, civil society activists and influencers, we are launching the campaign #HerLand to recognize excellence and leadership in sustainable land management by women and girls; amplify the voices of women and girls living on the frontlines of desertification, land degradation and drought and call to action for stronger women’s leadership and decision-making power to advocate for issues affecting women in the context of desertification, land degradation and drought. You too can lend your support by reaching out to your communities and advocating the key role of gender equality in empowering women and girls to be at the forefront of global land restoration and drought resilience efforts. We invite you to discover more and join: https://www.unccd.int/land-and-life/gender/herland
Bonn, Germany, 10 February 2023 – Today, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Korea Forest Service of the Republic of Korea signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to further support Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN). Welcoming the new agreement, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “I take this opportunity to thank Korea Forest Service and the Republic of Korea for their leadership and commitment to the work of the UNCCD in restoring balance with nature and advancing the global target of net zero land loss. Your continued political and financial support through the Changwon Initiative will be essential for consolidating partnerships and accelerating the achievement of a land-degradation neutral world.” Speaking at the signing ceremony, Sang Seop Lim, Deputy Minister of the Korea Forest Service, commented: “I hope that we will not only expand cooperation but also deliver greater results and that thereby we will be able to develop a strong partnership and best practices that will benefit the international community.” The Changwon Initiative, which was a major outcome of UNCCD COP10 that took place in the Republic of Korea in 2011, has inspired and catalyzed the global target of “a land-degradation neutral world” enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals. Activities supported through the initiative turned the vision of LDN into a concrete concept known as the "net zero land loss” to stabilize the quantity and quality of land resources and the ecosystems it supports. The Changwon Initiative has been an important success factor for some of the most significant results achieved by the UNCCD over the past decade. The second phase of the Initiative focuses on enhancing the scientific process to support the Convention’s implementation, promoting partnerships at all levels to improve livelihoods of affected populations, addressing sub-regional and regional challenges through land restoration and reforestation, and promoting synergies with other relevant conventions and international organizations. The Changwon Initiative continued support for the LDN Target-Setting Programme is helping countries set their voluntary national LDN targets and define measures for achieving them. To date, some 130 countries have joined the programme and more than 100 of those have already committed themselves not to degrade more land than they restore. The Initiative’s contribution has also been essential to the secretariat’s work on sand and dust storms (SDS), with a number of knowledge and guidance products launched to date: the SDS Compendium and the Global SDS Source Base-Map. Connecting researchers and policymakers through the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface, the Initiative has been key to providing a strong scientific foundation to the development of policy decisions and ensuring that the latest knowledge on drought and land restoration are reflected in national policies. This expert guidance, packaged in the Global Land Outlook, as well as its regional and thematic editions, delivers relevant and current information to practitioners and policymakers, enabling UNCCD Parties to effectively plan, implement and monitor their commitments to healthy land. Showcasing good practices in sustainable land management is another key objective for the Changwon Initiative. For over ten years, the Land for Life Award has brought to light over 20 outstanding projects in more than a dozen countries worldwide, proving that land restoration can be an effective solution to climate change and biodiversity loss while contributing to job creation and food security. The ongoing support through the Changwon Initiative toward action-oriented UNCCD programmes will enable the Convention to continue and scale up its efforts to provide collaborative and evidence-based support to country Parties who strive to end land degradation and safeguard land resources. For more information, contact: UNCCD: Ms. Xenya Scanlon Chief, Communications, External Relations and Partnerships T: +49 152 5454 0492 E: email@example.com About 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 to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner. https://www.unccd.int/ The Korea Forest Service (KFS) is an independent agency specializing in forestry that is overseen by the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of the Republic of Korea. The KFS has the overall responsibility for establishment and implementation of forest policies and laws and delivers projects based on rehabilitation technologies in collaboration between the government and the private sector. The agency is actively involved with all three UN Rio Conventions: UNCCD, CBD and UNFCCC, contributing to global environmental issues. To take the leading role in both bilateral and regional cooperation for mitigating desertification and drought, the KFS is promoting closer cooperation through bilateral forestry cooperation arrangements and establishment of the Northeast Asia Forest Network. https://www.forest.go.kr/
Healthy food, healthy climate, healthy planet: they are all impossible without healthy soil. Soil is literally the foundation of human wellbeing on this planet. That’s why on World Soil Day we celebrate this precious and precarious layer of life-giving substance. Almost 99% of our calories come from land. So we can say soil is where our food begins. It can take up to a thousand years to produce just one inch of soil. But it only takes moments to destroy it – through flash floods or sand and dust storms that strip our fertile topsoil. Every five seconds, the equivalent of one soccer field is eroded. We must urgently change the way we care for our land and the way we feed our world of eight billion people. Diversifying cropping system, no-till farming, replacing chemical fertilizers and pesticides with organic alternatives are just some solutions that can lead to healthier soils and more nutritious foods. Beyond food, soil is a mighty ally in mitigating and adapting to climate change. More organic carbon can be stored in the soil than in vegetation and atmosphere combined. Restoring degraded land makes it a powerful carbon sink. Finally, the world’s soils are teeming with biodiversity: they are home to one trillion times more bacteria than there are stars in the universe! Fungi is an essential part of healthy soil. It breaks down organic matter so that nutrients become available for plants. And then there are over 2,700 species of earthworms. These vital but under-appreciated creatures keep our soil alive and fertile. This World Soil Day and every day, let’s celebrate our soil, let’s cherish our soil, let’s save our soil. Thank you.
Fertile soil is a vital resource of livelihoods, prosperity and human well-being for millions across the Central Asia region. At the same time, desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), spurred on by climate change, pose a growing threat to soil health across the region. Around 1/3 of the region's land area is degraded, one of the highest rates in the world, according to UNCCD data. In his World Soil Day message Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw remarked that “soil is literally the foundation of human wellbeing on this planet. That’s why on World Soil Day we celebrate this precious and precarious layer of life-giving substance.” To highlight the urgency of preserving and restoring soil for a food-secure future, Kazakhstan, with the support of the FAO country office, marked this year’s World Soil Day by holding a yearly scientific conference with government representatives, scientists, journalists and industry on key issues of sustainable soil management. In his opening remarks, Baglhan Bekbauov, Vice Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan, reflected that “Land resources are of exceptional importance for the livelihood, prosperity, well-being (…) and the way of life of both our contemporaries and our future generations.” In her presentation, the UNCCD RLO for CEE Nadezda Dementieva underscored the urgent need to combat land degradation, raising political momentum to activate the land restoration agenda at global, regional and national levels. She also presented the UNCCD´s flagship publication, the 2nd edition of the Global Land Outlook, which focuses on diverse pathways that countries and communities can adopt to reverse land degradation through fit-to-purpose land restoration agendas. Kazakhstan´s active engagement in the World Soil Day activities reflects the importance UNCCD places on combatting desertification across the entire region. Recognizing the key role of achieving a neutral balance of land degradation to slow down DLDD, five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – have already joined the UNCCD Land Degradation Neutrality Programme, striving to reach no net loss of healthy and productive land. Uzbekistan also holds the distinction of being the first Central Asian country to host an official UNCCD conference, the 21st session of the UNCCD Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC21) in Samarkand from 9 to 13 October 2023.