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Regional dialogue addresses impacts of drought in Northern Mediterranean and Central and Eastern Europe

In recent yeas, water scarcity and drought have been seriously affecting the Northern Mediterranean and Central and Eastern Europe, with major impacts on the economy and welfare of people. To address the growing concern over the negative impacts of water scarcity, national focal points, country representatives and scientists gathered for an online Drought Dialogue on 13 July 2022. Representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia joined the dialogue to discuss the development of national drought plans and facilitate the exchange of effective approaches to drought preparedness and drought impact monitoring. Following the UNCCD COP mandate, the secretariat of the convention and the Global Mechanism are implementing a Drought Initiative, with the input from the Science-Policy Interface. The initiative aims to support UNCCD country Parties in their efforts to establish effective national drought action plans and improve the resilience of ecosystem and people to drought. To date, more than 70 countries are engaged in the process of designing national plans of action, including five countries from Central and Eastern Europe. Contributing to these efforts, the outcomes of the Drought Dialogue will support the production of a technical brief that will aim to address the gaps and needs of the region to building drought resilience with available knowledge and solutions. It will also include a number of case studies, initiatives and good practices on drought risk mitigation from a broad range of stakeholders: governmental, non-governmental, private sector, civil society and international organizations. The technical brief will follow the path laid out by the recent Global Land Outlook 2 Central and Eastern Europe thematic report “Ecosystem restoration for green recovery and a sustainable future,” which offers a comprehensive analysis of commitments under international and national initiatives promoting land and ecosystem restoration to address the impacts of drought.

Regional dialogue addresses impacts of drought in Northern Mediterranean and Central and Eastern Europe
Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought: Call for experts

The Conference of Parties at its fifteenth session (UNCCD COP 15) decided to establish an Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on effective policy and implementation measures for addressing drought under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), with a view to presenting its findings and recommendations to Parties for their consideration at the sixteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (UNCCD COP16). The IWG will consist of three-Party representatives nominated by each respective regional group based on nominations by national governments (21 members), plus two representatives from civil society organizations (as observers), two representatives from international organizations working on drought and two independent experts. The IWG invites applications from representatives of the regional and global international organizations and the independent experts from all regions to work together with the IWG members appointed by the Parties in 2022-2024. Please apply by 5 August 2022 via these links:  Independent experts: https://lnkd.in/ekvnVjXZ Representatives of international organizations: https://lnkd.in/eEnfrrbN

Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought: Call for experts
Call for CSO panel nominations

Dear representatives of the UNCCD-accredited CSOs,   In the decision 5/COP.15, Parties requested that the Executive Secretary “facilitate the renewal of the membership of the Civil Society Organization Panel until the next Conference of the Parties, starting immediately after that fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties, in accordance with previous decisions.”   Following this request, the secretariat would like to share the attached call for nominations and the information related to the elections. Organizations wishing to nominate representatives to serve as panel members will need to submit the documents stated in section 1 paragraph d of the attached document. The deadline for the submission of candidates is 17 July 2022. Once the candidates have been reviewed and accepted, the election process will be open from 21 July to 4 August 2022. Please share this information with your networks and nominate the best candidate to represent your organization for the next two years. Only organizations accredited to the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD are eligible to nominate candidates.   Please do not hesitate to contact us in case you need any additional information. You can also contact the current CSO panel at csopanel@unccd.int. We look forward to receiving your nominations.

Call for CSO panel nominations
New business challenge to boost the use of Sahelian products in support of the Great Green Wall

Baobab fruit, moringa oil and shea butter are just some of the products from Africa’s Sahel region that may hold the key to improving livelihoods, restoring degraded lands, and tackling climate change. To unlock this potential of the Sahel’s natural capital and give new momentum to the Great Green Wall’s land restoration ambition, a new sourcing challenge has been launched at UNCCD COP15 Green Business Forum in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The Sahel sourcing challenge calls on the global supply chains managers to upscale the use of sustainably produced Sahelian ingredients, such as bambara nut, baobab, moringa, gum Arabic and fonio, from the Sahel's small-scale producers as a way to create new economic opportunities for local populations. Sahel region is one of the most vulnerable places on Earth, where the temperatures are rising 1.5 times faster than the global average and where increasing desertification, drought and resource scarcity, leading to radicalization, conflict and migration. An African-led movement to inspire the world, the Great Green Wall is an epic vision to create a 8,000 km-long mosaic of projects across the continent that support land restoration, create 10 million jobs and promise a better a future. UNCCD is a key partner of the Great Green Wall Initiative, working with businesses and major corporate partners to create green jobs and transform the Sahel through market-driven, sustainable ethical supply chains. “The Great Green Wall challenge has a huge potential to help combat land degradation. By creating demand for the Sahel’s underutilized ingredients, the private sector can play a pivotal role in the creation of local economic development and the subsequent environmental and social impact that new value chains will bring,” says Nick Salter, co-founder of Aduna. Aduna, together with WhatIf Foods, Unilever, Evonik, Doehler, the World Economic Forum and the Global Shea Alliance, is among the major businesses and platforms that are working on the challenge and calling on others to follow suit and work with UNCCD and Business Fights Poverty to make the challenge a world-class success. “We're looking to be not just buyers, but to support communities. Improving livelihoods and soil fertility are in everyone's best interests,” says Scott Poynton, CEO and Founder of The Pond Foundation and WhatIf Foods Partner. Follow the Great Green Wall progress on the Web, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

New business challenge to boost the use of Sahelian products in support of the Great Green Wall
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 COP15 Great Green Wall Head of States Meeting: statement by Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw

Excellencies, The Great Green Wall is an historic opportunity. An opportunity for the Sahel - and for each of the GGW states - to deliver something truly remarkable. A renaissance for land and the natural world.  And - just as important - true resilience and a renaissance for communities on the frontline of climate change and poverty. The GGW is an inspiration and a beacon of hope for humanity worldwide. At a time when people need inspiration and hope.  For that Excellencies, you are to be congratulated. However, projects of this ambition and magnitude do not materialize on inspiration and hope alone. They need financial support.  Good governance.  And coordinated action. The pledges made at the One Planet Summit in January 2021 totaled USD19 billion for the period until 2025.  So, while progress is there, we cannot congratulate ourselves. Hope is not yet turning into action at the scale or pace you aspire to.  Because collectively, we are struggling to turn those pledges into projects and investments.  Understandably, this is leading to frustrations. There are, indeed, lots of bottlenecks. To my mind though, two critical bottlenecks have emerged. Coordination at national level. The complexity of accessing financing – the donor system. Firstly, I am convinced genuine national ownership – led by you, your Excellencies - and a national coalition for action would make progress happen faster.  In each country, the GGW is a massive undertaking.  With the best will in the world, neither the national Agency of the GGW, as currently set up, nor a single line ministry can make all the necessary wheels turn.  At national level, a more joined-up “all of government” response is needed.  The Ministry of Planning and Development or Treasury have an important role to play.  Along with the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture, Infrastructure or Energy as technical focal points. Concerned local authorities, the private sector, civil society and research should be fully engaged.  But government – at all levels – can take steps to assume its responsibilities more effectively.  In the case of Senegal, we noted the creation of Presidential Council, led by his Excellency President Macky Sall, that is guiding and accelerating this work in Senegal.  Each country will need to establish their own institutional framework. We would however suggest you consider setting up a political oversight, close to you.   Secondly though, we would all acknowledge that the current system for accessing the pledged financing is complex and cumbersome at best. International partners are better coordinated than ever around a common results framework.  But to access the financing, currently, your officials must navigate the different processes and timelines of the ten international partners who have committed to support you.  Accessing much of the funds will take a great deal of upfront investment of staff resources and a considerable time.  With your bold and ambitious timeline, this business-as-usual approach will not work. As Heads of State and Government, you might consider requesting the simplification and streamlining of the way financing is channeled to you – potentially through a common window, joint assessment or more co-funding of projects. You may want to task your Ministries in charge of Planning or Economy to lead the Programmatic Coordination with donors. We may need to follow adequate, perhaps specific procedures. It is certainly recommended that each Government set up a robust programmatic team to unlock the financing.      Excellencies, a Sahelian renaissance awaits.  With the restoration of land and nature and the right investments for a resilient and vibrant future, we can capitalize on the inspiration and hope and the unique opportunity that the GGW offers.  Thank you.

UNCCD COP15 Great Green Wall Head of States Meeting: statement by Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw