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The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) welcomes the pledge of 5.25 billion United States dollars announced today for the eighth replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF8). The increase in GEF resources comes at a critical moment as many countries around the world are facing multiple challenges – from drought to conflicts, to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all of which could turn policy attention away from sustainable growth and development approaches. Developing and the least developed countries, in particular, will benefit from the increased allocation by supplementing stretched national budgets to achieve the desired post-COVID-19 recovery. The announcement also comes a month before the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties to UNCCD, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where governments will decide on the priority actions to take in 2022 and 2023. “Land is where life thrives. We applaud countries’ leadership and commitment to successfully replenish the GEF for next 4 years from July 2022. Today's announcement will ramp up efforts to combat land degradation that would have a positive impact on the restoration of ecosystems,” said UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw. The restoration by 2030 of the one billion hectares of land pledged would have vast economic, social and environmental benefits worldwide. Biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable land management, recovery of ground water sources. In turn, these benefits could improve food security for communities and consumers worldwide. The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD regularly receives requests from countries for support to develop large-scale projects that can transform livelihoods and landscapes. It continues to provide technical assistance to stakeholders in developing project ideas that are eligible for GEF funding. The increased GEF8 allocation for the land focal area may encourage countries with worsening land degradation to take concrete action. About 130 of the 169 UNCCD country parties affected by desertification have shown great interest in restoring degrading land and pursuing sustainable land management. Since its establishment in 1992, GEF has played a catalytic role in land restoration and rehabilitation activities. The GEF became a financial mechanism of the UNCCD in 2010. GEF funding has helped countries to create the enabling environment needed to motivate other partners, including the private sector, to invest in large-scale restoration.
UNCCD extends heartfelt congratulations to its Land Ambassador, music composer Ricky Kej, who has just received a Grammy Award in the Best New Age Album category for his album "Divine Tides," along with Stewart Copeland. This is the second Grammy win for Ricky, who is a passionate advocate for sustainable development and environment action. In his acceptance speech he shared his dream of the world as one family that is living in peace – within the human species and all entities on this planet: the wildlife, the forests, all the elements of nature – the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we walk on. Ricky himself teaches respect for nature by example, choosing a vegetarian diet, opting to use public transportation instead of owning a car and having his carbon footprint audited quarterly to monitor his environmental footprint and stay on top of his climate goals. Together with his fellow Ambassador Baaba Maal, Ricky is also the author of the UNCCD Land Anthem, which has been produced in six languages.
The Land for Life Programme was launched at the tenth UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP10) in 2011 in the Republic of Korea as part of the Changwon Initiative. The Programme seeks to address the challenges of land degradation, desertification and mitigation of drought. To demonstrate that Land Degradation Neutrality is necessary and achievable, the Land for Life Programme engages in awareness raising and knowledge support. Every two years, the programme presents the Land for Life Award which aims to provide global recognition to individuals and organizations whose work and initiatives have made a significant contribution to sustainable development through sustainable land management.
UNCCD has recently renewed its partnership with Baaba Maal who is one of the six UNCCD Land Ambassadors. Hailing from the region of the Senegal River which is home to millions of people living in four Western African countries: Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Mauritania, the music legend Baaba Maal has vowed to fight desertification and climate change in the Sahel, by planting trees and making it a land of green. A singer and guitarist who has released albums since 1989 in a music career lauded across the world, Baaba Maal lent his unique voice to the sound track of the international blockbuster Black Panther, a film that won an Oscar and a Grammy Award for its music score. Since 2003, the musician has been committed to fighting various development challenges in Africa. His popularity means that he can make global impact to help create a new narrative for the Sahel as a region of opportunities, where a Great Green Wall Initiative works to transform lives of humanity’s most vulnerable people by creating green jobs, harnessing the Sahel’s abundant solar energy and building and prosperous future on land. "My music and songs use many words to describe the beauty of the Sahel – but now the beauty is disappearing and people are moving away from their villages. I want my music to call people to fix things, again. The first step is planting trees." — Baaba Maal Photo (L to R): Baaba Maal with UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw Read more: Land Ambassadors Great Green Wall
As the COP26 closes with a call for more ambitious and measurable climate actions by governments, activists around the world are ramping up their efforts to continue work outside the conference halls. Our Land Ambassador, a Malian-French singer and songwriter Inna Modja, in her recent interview with CNN presented the CodeGreen, a new coalition of artists and coders who want to use non-fungible token (NFT) auctions to raise money for climate projects. Inna, who is a co-founder of CodeGreen, discussed its potential to mobilize funds for projects along the Great Green Wall. In the Sahel, where 80 per cent of the population rely on agriculture for their livelihood, the Great Green Wall goes beyond growing trees to create opportunities for vulnerable populations, especially, for youth and women. The first CodeGreen is planned for the World Economic Forum in Davos. Watch the interview here