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As one of the pilot countries to set up the land restoration targets under the UNCCD Land Degradation Neutrality target-setting programme, Armenia has been strategically placed to welcome the members of the UNCCD International Working Group on Drought (IWG) to share national successes in harnessing the adaptation potential of restored natural landscapes. In the words of the UNCCD COP15 President Alain Richard Donwahi, in the challenging times of uncertainty, geopolitical tensions and conflict, the meeting of IWG on Drought demonstrates that the coming-together of countries to protect the environment has the power to eclipse national interests and conflicting agendas to improve lives. One of the least forested countries in the Caucasus Region, with just over ten per cent of forest cover still intact, Armenia is stongly motivated to invest major efforts in projects such as the restoration on natural and agricultural landscapes around the closed stone mines in Artik. The IWG members who gathered in Yerevan earlier this month had an opportunity to meet the activists from the local youth eco-club who presented the positive impact of the project for local communities. Restoring land cover, reinforcing river slopes and planting pioneer tree species on the site of the abandoned stone quarry created a natural barrier against weather extremes, providing residents with a park and a recreation area, and introducing new habitats for a more diverse flora and fauna. Over the course of the project, water pipelines have also been restored and an automated early warning system installed at a local weather station to improve protection against environmental hazards. The total number of beneficiaries of the project is estimated at over 15 000 people, 60 per cent of whom are women. While thanking the government Armenia for hosting the IWG meeting, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw called the attention of participants to the importance of united efforts and a strong political commitment to increase the resilience of nations and communities to extreme weather events, reduce human suffering and promote sustainable development. The IWG on Drought was established by the UNCCD COP 15 to identify and evaluate the full spectrum of options, including global policy instruments, regional policy frameworks and national plans to effectively manage drought under the Convention and support a shift from reactive to proactive drought management. In his remarks the Minister of Environment of the Republic of Armenia Hakob Simidyan stressed that the problem of combating land degradation has become of strategic importance to the country. With about 70 per cent of the territory affected by desertification, and 30 per cent severely degraded, mitigating and preventing the effects of drought becomes all-important for the stable and sustainable national development. The attendees also received a training in skill development for multilateral negotiations, delivered in English and Russian, since many participants came from the Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus region. The acquired skill set will serve as an important asset for national delegates at the upcoming UNCCD CRIC21 in October 2023 and the COP16 in 2024.
Mobilizing political will, resources and tools to help countries, cities and communities better prepare and respond to the growing impacts of droughts is critical as global freshwater demand is projected to outstrip available supply by 40% by 2030, leaders urged at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York.
The sun beats down on the dusty streets of Bol, a small town on the shores of Lake Chad. As the locals go about their daily lives, the sounds of laughter and chatter fill the air. For many, living here is a constant struggle, threatened by drought, insecurity, and poverty. But against all odds, the people of Bol have shown remarkable resilience. It all begins with the land. The Lake Chad region, home to approximately 30 million people, has been grappling with the impacts of drought and desertification for decades. Since the 1960s, the lake has shrunk by 90% due to climate change and overuse of resources. The arid land requires significant effort to cultivate and sustain livelihoods, yet the people of Bol have never lost hope. By finding new ways to farm and care for their land, they have learned to adapt to the changing climate and boost drought resilience. One such solution is land restoration. Bol is one of the many communities along the Great Green Wall and has been actively involved in this Africa-led initiative spanning 11 countries across the continent, from Senegal to Djibouti. With the help of local communities, the Great Green Wall Initiative is restoring degraded land, creating a vital source of income for families and empowering women and youth. “We have community farms that are supported by the Agency of the Great Green Wall by providing water and solar panels for the people to work the land,” says Abakar Thiéré, Head of the Lake Chad branch of the Great Green Wall Initiative. Head of the Lake Chad branch of the Great Green Wall Abakar Thiéré The Sahel region has long faced severe, complex security and humanitarian crises. The Boko Haram insurgency is one of the many threats facing the Sahel region. The story of Hassan Amad Muhamad, a resident of Bol, is a powerful example of the town’s resilience. Hassan escaped a life of violence and found hope and a new livelihood as a tractor driver in Bol after completing a three-year training programme. His story is emblematic of the town’s ability to overcome adversity and build a better future. Hassan Amad Muhamad Similarly, the people of Bol have displayed their adaptability and determination in the face of environmental challenges. In response to the extreme drought affecting Lake Chad, they have collaborated with local authorities to develop innovative water management solutions. They have constructed underground cisterns and implemented drip irrigation systems, enabling them to grow crops even in the driest seasons. These techniques have provided essential food and income for families in the community. Central to Bol’s resilience is its strong sense of community. Women, in particular, have formed support groups, pooling resources and knowledge to help one another thrive. These groups have been critical in fostering economic empowerment and resilience in the face of adversity. “When we talk about Lake Chad, women matter. They are the first to get affected by all the crises surrounding the Lake. Men usually respond to the challenges by leaving. Women stay and take care of everything. Women have development of their knowledge in the face of these adversities, they have been resilience in the face of the challenges,” says Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim , President of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT). Bol’s story is a remarkable testament to the power of resilience in the face of adversity. Through collaboration and innovation, the people of Bol have shown that it is possible to find hope and build a better future, even in the most difficult of circumstances. This story is part of a series that seeks to shed light on community drought resilience strategies from various regions around the world. By showcasing these often-untold stories, we hope to inspire and share best practices with others facing similar challenges. Recognizing the urgent need to shift from reactive to proactive approaches in tackling drought and its impacts, the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) was launched by the leaders of Spain and Senegal at the UN Climate Summit in November 2022, with 30 countries and 20 entities as founding members.
It is easy for some to think that water simply comes from the tap, but this limited perspective fails to acknowledge the vital ecosystems from which our water comes. When rivers run dry or become polluted, when groundwater is over-exploited, and when ecosystems are degraded, it is only then that we begin to understand the true value of water. As we mark World Water Day 2023, we are reminded of the indispensable role water plays in the lives of all living things on our planet. The urgent need for collective action to address the global water and sanitation crisis is reflected in this year's theme, Accelerating Change. Despite an ambitious commitment to achieve Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, billions of people still lack access to safe water and sanitation. This situation is only going to get worse as we are looking to a hotter, drier future. A future where global demand for freshwater will outstrip supply by 40% by the end of this decade. A future where droughts—driven by climate change but also land degradation—will strike more often and hit even harder. These problems do not discriminate. They affect countries and regions across all continents, from China to Chad, from Spain to Chile, from Australia to California here in the United States. Healthy land is critical as we face a future of increasing weather extremes and human pressure. Through sustainable land management we can restore ecosystems, boost drought resilience and safeguard water resources for future generations. The UN Water Conference that starts today is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to set an ambitious Water Action Agenda. One that can foster a more resilient, equitable, and prosperous future by recognizing the interconnectedness of water, land, climate and nature. On World Water Day 2023, we reaffirm our steadfast commitment to accelerate change and address the water and sanitation crisis that impacts every aspect of our lives. We call on governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals around the world to join forces, share knowledge, and accelerate change to ensure safe water and sanitation for all.
Dear UNCCD Focal Points and Stakeholders, Women hold a vital stake in the health of the land, yet often don't have control over it. Across the world, women face significant barriers in securing land rights, limiting their ability to thrive and prosper. And when land becomes degraded and water is scarce, women are often the worst affected. The global focus of the 2023 Desertification and Drought Day is on women’s land rights— essential for achieving the interconnected global goals on gender equality and land degradation neutrality by 2030 as well as advancing other Sustainable Development Goals. Under the slogan “Her Land, Her Rights”, this year’s Desertification and Drought Day will send a strong message that investing in women’s equal access to land and related assets is a direct investment in their own future and the future of humanity. 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. I count on your strong support to reach out to people and communities about the key role of gender equality in the sustainable future of land. You will find the announcement and background note in all UN languages on the 2023 Desertification and Drought Day webpage. I also invite you to support the campaign “Women, Girls and Land” that seeks to promote successful examples of women’s contributions to sustainable land management and mobilize action for stronger female leadership in combatting desertification, land degradation and drought. Visit https://www.unccd.int/land-and-life/gender/herland to learn more. Please send your plans for the observance event to firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can feature your activities on the UNCCD website. Further information will be shared in due course. Should you have any questions, please contact Ms. Xenya Scanlon, Chief of Communications, External Relations and Partnerships. On this year’s Desertification and Drought Day, let us unite our efforts to recognize and empower women and girls to be at the forefront of global land restoration and drought resilience efforts.
Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire - On the invitation of UNCCD COP15 President Alain Richard Donwahi, the members of the COP15 Bureau held their second meeting on 1 March 2023 in Abidjan. This meeting was an opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved since the first COP15 Bureau meeting in Bonn in October 2022 and identify the next steps in the lead up to UNCCD COP16 in 2024. In his opening remarks, COP15 President Donwahi congratulated stakeholders who are working to realize the commitments made at COP15 and pledged his support. “My focus this year will be on supporting the UNCCD Executive Secretary in the implementation of many regional initiatives that aim at fighting drought and land degradation such as the Great Green Wall Initiative, the Middle East Green Initiative and the International Drought Resilience Alliance, but also major projects within the five regional annexes, he said. UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw stressed that much progress has been made since the COP: “Our beating of the 'drought and land restoration' drums seem to be bearing fruit. Let's continue to work towards a sustainable future for all,” he said. Executive Secretary Thiaw also gave an update on the activities of the Secretariat and of the intersessional working groups, which are working to respond to the mandate given by UNCCD Parties at COP15. Already, 115 Parties have submitted their national reports, which will be considered at CRIC21 session, scheduled to take place in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) in October 2023. COP15 Bureau members expressed their satisfaction with the progress made and readiness to continue the fight to mitigate the effects of land degradation and drought together.