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Brazil joins the International Drought Resilience Alliance

The country reinforces its commitment to combat desertification and drought in the face of climate change Bonn (Germany)/ Petrolina (Brazil), 10 June 2024—Brazil is the latest country to join the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA), the global coalition mobilizing political, technical, and financial capital to prepare the world for harsher droughts. This addition brings the total membership of IDRA to 38 countries and 28 intergovernmental and research organizations, showing an increasing willingness to tackle one of the world’s most deadly and costly natural hazards. Launched at UN Climate Summit COP27 by the leaders of Spain and Senegal, IDRA drives action against droughts in the face of global warming, acknowledging that we are only as resilient to drought and climate change as our land is. The IDRA secretariat is hosted by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). At a joint event with the UNCCD in Petrolina, in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Brazil H.E. Marina Silva said: “Brazil's accession to the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) demonstrates the government's determination to combat drought and desertification, promote food and water security, and combat inequalities. Our objective is to promote sustainable development, while ensuring the protection of biodiversity and the communities of the semi-arid region. The cooperation with UNCCD reinforces Brazil's commitment to combating desertification and climate change.” The event, which launched a national campaign to combat desertification and drought, put an end to a visit to the semi-arid region of Caatinga, a unique ecoregion that covers around 70 percent of northeastern Brazil, and 11 percent of the total country area. Brazilian researchers recently identified the country’s first arid region and projected the expansion of semiarid lands across much of the territory. Nearly 38 million Brazilians from 1.561 municipalities are vulnerable to desertification and drought , as are 1,4 million square kilometers of land across 13 states, according to the Environment and Climate Change Ministry. In Caatinga, authorities are supporting community-led initiatives to restore watersheds, improve agricultural practices, and harvest water as a means of building their resilience to drought. Around the world, addressing challenges at the water-land-and-climate nexus is essential to protecting agricultural and energy production, and to maintaining vital ecosystem services like the provision of clean water and fertile soils for present and future generations. Speaking at the event in Petrolina, the UNCCD Executive Secretary, Ibrahim Thiaw, said: “I commend Brazil’s commitment to proactively investing in resilient lands and livelihoods. Science and experience show time and again that preparing societies and economies for droughts before they strike prevents human sufering and is much more cost-effective than emergency responses. Drought is a hazard, but in needn’t be a disaster.” A decisive year for land and drought UNCCD COP16 will be the largest-ever meeting of UNCCD’s 197 Parties, the first to be held in the Middle East region, and the largest multilateral conference ever hosted by Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom recently hosted the 2024 World Environment Day global celebrations with a focus on land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience. On 17 June, the 2024 Desertification and Drought Day will mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), one of the three Rio Conventions alongside climate and biodiversity. The High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policy , co-organized by the UNCCD, (Geneva, 30 September-3 October) will bring together policy-makers and practitioners with a twin objective: taking stock of progress and lessons learned in the past decade and charting the way forward for the implementation of drought resilience actions. *** Notes to editors For interviews and enquires please contact: press@unccd.int  Social media X: @UNCCD / Instagram: @unccd  For information about IDRA visit: https://idralliance.global  About IDRA The International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) is the first global coalition creating political momentum and mobilizing financial and technical resources for a drought-resilient future. As a growing platform of more than 30 countries and 20 institutions, IDRA draws on the collective strengths of its members to advance policies, actions, and capacity-building for drought preparedness, acknowledging we are only as resilient to drought and climate change as our land is. The work of IDRA is aligned with, and supportive of, the mandate of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which hosts the IDRA Secretariat. For more information: https://idralliance.global. About UNCCD 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 in order to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner.

Brazil joins the International Drought Resilience Alliance
Leaders at World Water Forum urged to prioritize drought resilience

Experts share key success factors in reducing vulnerability to drought Drought is a hazard, but it needn’t be a disaster. That is, provided all communities are adequately equipped before it strikes. At the 10th World Water Forum, held in Bali from 18 to 25 May, experts urged decision-makers to prioritize drought resilience in the face of climate change, drawing inspiration from success cases around the globe. Representatives from the scientific, non-profit, and technical sectors made the case for building resilience to the world’s costliest and deadliest hazard at an event featuring partners of the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA.) The session took place at the Spanish Pavilion under the auspices of the General Directorate for Water of Spain and the UNCCD. The experts convened as the need to bridge science and policy for drought risk management is becoming more apparent: global warming is ushering in a new era of rapid-onset, or flash, droughts, just as the global freshwater demand is set to outstrip supply by 40% by 2030, putting societies, economies, and ecosystems on the line. These are the key takeaways from the conversation: California to East Africa “Drought and desertification are not just problems for the Sahel region of Africa and for developing countries,” said UNCCD policy officer Daniel Tsegai before an international audience. “We already see impacts in highly productive and populated parts of the developed world like California, Spain, and Australia.” In the past two decades, the Colorado river basin (US), which is home to 40 million people, has been experiencing the worst drought in 1,200 years; Australia, has recently grappled with the harshest drought in 800 years; in the Horn of Africa, the worst event in 40 years has left 23 million people severely food-insecure, and Spain has seen the water level of some dams drop to 1% of their capacity. “The good news is that investments in drought resilience have an up to tenfold return, and we know what it takes to decouple the severity of a drought from its most serious impacts on lives and livelihoods,” explained Tsegai. Unconventional water resources For thousands of years, mobile pastoralism has been a prime survival strategy in the Arabian Peninsula, one of the most arid regions in the world. However, urbanization, population growth, and lifestyle changes have brought new challenges —and are spawning new solutions. “We are looking to expand sewage water treatment and desalination, for example, to irrigate crops, and we are also keen on further building local capacity on sustainable land and water management,” said Omar Ouda, senior water management advisor at the Ministry of Water, Environment and Agriculture of Saudi Arabia. The country will host the largest-ever UN land and drought summit, or UNCCD COP16, from 2-13 December. Spain, in the Mediterranean basin, has more than 700 desalination plants, including the largest in Europe for drinking water, which is now catering to more than 4.,5 million people in the drought-struck Barcelona area. The amount of energy required to desalinate water, though, remains a key consideration when opting for this tool. “We make decisions based on indicators like dam water levels,” said water commissioner at the Júcar River Basin Authority in Spain Marc Garcia, who noted the importance of adopting a proactive approach to drought management. “On the basis of such information, authorities assess options like intensifying desalination, decommissioning wells and, if necessary, restricting water use in certain basins.” Nature-based solutions While technology and grey infrastructure can contribute to building resilience, nature-based solutions and sustainable land and water management remain central to mitigating, and adapting to, future droughts, according to several panellists. Land degradation, for example, disrupts regional rainfall patterns by disrupting the amount of water that regularly moves from the earth to the air. Conversely, healthy lands support consistent seasonal and annual rainfall; facilitate aquifer recharge; and mitigate the risk of droughts and floods. “Nature can be a big part of the solution,” said the Director of Water Scarcity and Markets at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Tom Iseman. “For instance, it is essential we protect source watersheds, keeping their storage capacity intact, slowing runoff, and protecting water quality,” said the expert of TNC, which is engaged in source water protection initiatives across Africa. Success factors for water governance The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is helping communities conserve and use water more efficiently, based on the latest scientific insights and innovations —from drought-tolerant seeds and improved irrigation methods to remote sensing technologies to explore new water resources. They also support policy-makers in creating drought policies across Africa and Asia. “To define drought policies, it ideally needs to be raining outside because it takes time to put them together,” said IWMI deputy director general Rachael McDonnell, and explained they involve the ministries of health, environment, agriculture, economy, infrastructure, and finance, as well as statistical and meteorological agencies. The process must engage all governance levels, from national institutions to local administrations and communities, she said, and make sure crucial data is available to all of them —a consideration they keep front and centre as they support the creation of early warning systems in countries like Zambia, Morocco, Jordan, and Lebanon. For director general of the US National Drought Mitigation Centre at the University of Nebraska, Mark Svoboda, another key is involving users in the co-design of information systems and tools to build ownership in the long run. From his experience in southern Africa, countries that successfully appropriate and put to use drought early warning systems create a ripple effect. “They generate positive peer pressure: neighboring countries want to understand how to do what they do, so building trust now takes one year, instead of eight,” said Svoboda. “It all starts with political will, and showing tangible results is the best way to get buy-in from decision-makers.” Drought communications In the lead up to major international events like UNCCD COP16 and Drought+10, participants called on the Alliance to get the word out on the urgency of building drought resilience. “Drought is a major threat multiplier, but it is too often lost to audiences, overshadowed by geopolitics and other conflicts,” said McDonnell from IWMI. Executive secretary and CEO of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) Alan AtKisson echoed the need to boost communications on drought at all levels, from the public and affected communities to political leaders and the finance sector: “We need to talk much more about drought resilience, and we need investors to understand how drought can impact their value chains going forward,” said AtKisson. “Tropical storms get the headlines, but the hazard that destroys most economic value on our planet is drought.”

Leaders at World Water Forum urged to prioritize drought resilience
Saudi Arabia joins the International Drought Resilience Alliance

UNCCD COP16 host raises water resilience issues on the global agenda Bonn/Riyadh, 23 May 2024—The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the latest country to formally join the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA), the global coalition mobilizing political, technical, and financial capital to prepare the world for harsher droughts. This addition brings the total membership of IDRA to 37 countries and 28 intergovernmental and research organizations, reflecting a growing commitment to address droughts in the face of climate change and unsustainable land management. Launched at UN Climate Summit COP27 by the leaders of Spain and Senegal, IDRA rallies world leaders against one of the world’s most deadly and costly natural disasters, acknowledging that we are only as resilient to drought and climate change as our land is. The IDRA secretariat is hosted by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Eng. Abdulrahman Abdulmohsen Al Fadley, Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, said: “We see IDRA as an opportunity to protect our societies and economies in the face of drought.  As hosts of the largest-ever UN conference on land and drought this December, one of our priorities is to further the countries commitment to a drought-resilient future.” His Excellency Minister Al Fadley emphasized that Saudi Arabia's hosting of COP 16 reflects the commitment of its leadership to environmental protection at the national, regional, and international levels, and adds to pioneering efforts  like the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative. Al Fadley also highlighted the urgent need to build drought resilience globally, while combating land degradation and desertification to counter their environmental, economic, and social impacts. He expressed hope that the Alliance would foster effective collective action and intensify global efforts to address these issues, ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources for future generations. One-quarter of the world’s population is already affected by drought, and three out of four people are projected to face water scarcity by 2050. In the Middle East and North Africa, 100 percent of the population will live with extremely high water stress by 2050. Third Vice-President of the Government of Spain, Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge and IDRA Co-Chair Ms. Teresa Ribera encouraged more countries to follow in the steps of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, noting that drought resilience yields returns of up to ten times the initial investment: “The Alliance is as strong as the knowledge, experiences, and networks contributed by its members. I invite world leaders to join IDRA to transform the way humanity tackles drought, building our collective defenses before crises strike.” UNCCD Executive Secretary Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw concluded: “Droughts are a natural phenomenon, but we are turbo-charging them by degrading our lands and disrupting the climate. In the lead up the UNCCD COP16, I urge countries to raise their ambitions for healthy lands and drought-resilient societies and economies.” A watershed year for land and drought UNCCD COP16, taking place in Riyadh from 2-13 December, will be the largest-ever meeting of UNCCD’s 197 Parties, the first to be held in the Middle East region, and the largest multilateral conference ever hosted by Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom will also host the 2024 World Environment Day global celebrations with a focus on land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience. On 17 June 2024, Desertification and Drought Day will mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), one of the three Rio Conventions alongside climate and biodiversity. *** Notes to editors For interviews and enquires please contact: press@unccd.int. X / Instagram: @unccd  About IDRA The International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) is the first global coalition creating political momentum and mobilizing financial and technical resources for a drought-resilient future. As a growing platform of more than 30 countries and 20 institutions, IDRA draws on the collective strengths of its members to advance policies, actions, and capacity-building for drought preparedness, acknowledging we are only as resilient to drought and climate change as our land is. The work of IDRA is aligned with, and supportive of, the mandate of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which hosts the IDRA Secretariat. For more information: https://idralliance.global. About UNCCD 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 in order to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner. https://www.unccd.int

Saudi Arabia joins the International Drought Resilience Alliance
19th Meeting of the Science-Policy Interface (SPI)

The 25 members of the UNCCD’s Science-Policy Interface (SPI) have assembled at the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany for a critical scientific meeting in the run up to the 16th Session of the Conference of the Parties, which will be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from the 2nd to the 13th of December 2024. The SPI is a unique combination of independent scientists from all corners of the globe, science delegates to the Convention representing the five regions of the world, and five practitioners from implementing agencies and civil society. Over the past year half of the SPI members have been assembling the evidence base for a much more systemic approach to land use, so that our impacts can be more strategic and, ideally, much greater than the sum of the parts. The other half have been conducting a comprehensive analysis of aridity trends, projections and anticipated impacts, which under the Convention translates into land and people affected by the combined effects of land degradation and water scarcity. Both assessments have led to draft technical reports which will undergo independent scientific review following the meeting so that they can be finalized and published in the autumn.  The SPI is dedicated to building a bridge between science and policy. They are a global community of experts, united by a passion for understanding and safeguarding all life on land.

19th Meeting of the Science-Policy Interface (SPI)
Land issues high on UN Environment Assembly agenda

Nairobi, 1 March 2024 – Healthy land’s contribution to addressing global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainable development was the focus of the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 6), which concluded today in Nairobi. The week-long meeting saw the adoption of the first-ever UNEA resolution on land degradation as well as the announcement of the logo and slogan for the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP16), to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 2 to13 December 2024. Speaking at the high-level event on combating land degradation for climate and biodiversity, UNEA 6 President and Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development for the Kingdom of Morocco, Leila Benali, noted: “Land is the only common denominator among the three Rio conventions, and it is only through land restoration that we can achieve their objectives. We need to build on what unites us rather than what divides us and start with working and credible solutions when it comes to land and soil health”. Announcing the slogan for COP16, “Our Land. Our Future.”, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “COP16 will be a moonshot moment for land, the Paris equivalent for UNCCD. It is crucial that there is convergence and synergy among the three COPs – biodiversity, climate change, and desertification, all taking place this year". For the first time, UNEA adopted a resolution calling for strengthening international efforts to combat desertification and land degradation, restore degraded lands, promote land conservation and sustainable land management, contribute to land degradation neutrality and enhance drought resilience. These issues will be front and center at UNCCD COP16. On behalf of the COP16 Presidency, Osama Ibrahim Faqeeha, Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture of Saudi Arabia, said: "Land is not only important for human life but also crucial for biodiversity and maintaining the delicate balance of our environment. We have to recognize the importance of land and other natural elements of our planet, as 24 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are associated with various land use schemes." Through the Saudi Green Initiative, the Saudi government aims to plant 10 billion trees and protect 30 per cent of the Kingdom’s land. Additional quotes: Aziz Abdukhakimov, Minister of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which hosted the meeting to review progress in UNCCD implementation last November, said: "Every minute Uzbekistan loses nine square meters of fertile land, and this is a big problem for any country facing land degradation. It is important to bring together political will, science, and finance to address the challenges of climate change, land degradation, and biodiversity loss". Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said: “Land is where food begins, and without land, we cannot produce food or feed the planet. We need a holistic approach, avoiding fragmentation, and investing in sustainable transformations of our agri-food systems to ensure food security and address climate change and biodiversity loss”. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT), said: “Indigenous peoples, who make up 5 per cent of the world's population, protect 80 per cent of the world's biodiversity. They are the guardians of ecosystems and masters of restoring land using traditional knowledge. Direct access to finance, policy coordination, and inclusive decision-making are essential to empowering communities and implementing successful land restoration projects”. UNCCD Land Hero Patricia Kombo from Kenya, who moderated the high-level event at UNEA 6, concluded: “Land degradation is a global challenge that requires concerted action at all levels. It is only by working together that we can restore our land ecosystems, ensure food security, and mitigate the effects of climate change”. For more information: UNCCD Press Office, press@unccd.int, +49 228 815 2820, https://www.unccd.int/, @unccd Recording and photos available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_oSZoVZJF8 https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/1QhHqfX_pOFWBuot0ET5hGTogyrWDsq6Q For more information about UNEA 6 and UNCCD COP16 visit: https://www.unep.org/environmentassembly/unea6 and https://www.unccd.int/cop16 About UNCCD 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 in order to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner.

Land issues high on UN Environment Assembly agenda