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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
UNCCD joins the UNFCCC expert dialogue

The UNCCD participated the Structured Expert Dialogue of the UNFCCC second Periodic Review to help identify gaps and opportunities in the efforts to keep global warming in check below 1.5 degrees. Together with representatives of CBD and WHO they outlined the linkages between the work of their agencies and climate change, illustrating the major challenges and potential solutions, while a representative of the GEF described their approach to supporting countries in addressing many of these challenges. The UNCCD described the potential for Land Degradation Neutrality to deliver multiple benefits while ensuring no further land degradation in net terms. The secretariat experts also outlined pathways to boost nature-positive production systems and catalyze global efforts to turn restoration commitments in to action on the ground. The UNCCD team introduced the ongoing work of PBL in developing a restoration scenario which will be published as part of the 2nd Edition of the Global Land Outlook. Watch the full recording here...

UNCCD joins the UNFCCC expert dialogue
UN digital ambassador ELYX joins Desertification and Drought Day

This journey for ELYX, the UN’s Digital Ambassador, begins on World Bee Day, 20 May 2021, with more stops ahead – the International Biodiversity Day on 22 May and World Environment Day on 5 June, and finally a celebration of Desertification and Drought Day on 17 June. ELYX is working with UNCCD to get the world’s private sector organizations excited and involved in both the 2021 Desertification and Drought Day and the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which runs from 2021 to 2030. UNCCD and ELYX are inviting private sector organizations around the world to commit to supporting one or more of the 12 targets of Sustainable Development Goal 15, Life on Land. ELYX was born in 2011 as an artistic project of renowned French artist Yacine Ait Kaci (YAK), became an Instagram influencer and in 2014 was appointed the first United Nations Digital Ambassador. UNCCD and ELYX will reach out to the private sector to bring their attention to the High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought hosted by Mr. Volkan Bozkir, the seventy-fifth President of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA) to bring together Heads of State and Government to map the actions for the next ten years of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, after assessing the progress made to reduce the loss of productive land during the the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification that ended in 2020. ELYX's journey begins on the World Bee Day because bees are essential to keep our land healthy. Their disappearance  is a powerful signal that land is degrading. Protecting habitats of key pollinators such as bees is necessary to keep land productive and the entire ecosystem healthy – a cornerstone of sustainable post-pandemic recovery. Next, ELYX will join the international community to celebrate and launch of the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration 5 June. Together with UNCCD, he is inviting private companies to become part of the global movement of citizens backing governments to put life back into the one billion hectares of land that are no longer producing. On 17 June UNCCD will profile companies that respond to this invitation by announcing their commitments to leave Earth with better prospects for healthier and more productive future on land. For more information about the event contact Ms. Wagaki Wischnewski wwischnewski@unccd.int For information about how to get involved contact Mr. Marcos Montoiro mmontoiro@unccd.int

UN digital ambassador ELYX joins Desertification and Drought Day
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
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