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World Environment Day 2011: Message from UNCCD ES Luc Gnacadja

Bonn , Germany, 5 June 2011 – The arid zone forests are the quintessence of ‘Nature at Humanity’s Service’, the theme of this year’s World Environment Day. These forests are the “invisible” backbone of the humanity’s food security today. One in every three plants under cultivation originated here and now provides the globally-consumed crops like wheat, barley, sorghum, corn, cabbage, potatoes and olives. Half of the world’s livestock lives off the arid zone forests. And a significant proportion of the 2 billion people who live in the drylands directly depend on these forests for their day-to-day sustenance, energy and wood needs. The services rendered by the arid zone forests go beyond this food provisioning service. The arid zone forests play a critical ecosystem service. They are a key part of the climate regulating system and sustain valuable global biological diversity. They are inhabited by the world’s largest concentration of mammals, and over 50,000 plant and 1,500 bird species. And so, just as they have done for many generations in the past, the resources from the arid zone forests continue to sustain humanity. But for how long? Two policy failures, in particular, undermine the long-term sustainability of the arid zone forests. First, largely due to an underestimation of their value, the arid zone forests remain “invisible” to policy-makers. Consequently, the policy incentives required to sustainably conserve and use the arid zone forests are underdeveloped. Second, whereas the forest, land and water resources are naturally interdependent and function as a trilogy, the prevalent policy approach to their conservation is to focus on each resource singularly. The consequent policy imbalance in resource prioritization undermines the sustainability of all. For us to ensure that the future generations enjoy equal, if not better, utility of these resources, policy-makers and practitioners alike must think outside the box in the management of the drylands forests. This means, first, focusing on the causes, not symptoms, of their degradation. Second, it calls for a careful and coordinated calibration of the land, forest and water policies for the drylands. Third, it makes the payment for ecosystems in the drylands a requirement, not an option. Lastly, it underscores the need to mainstream soil improvement in all sustainable development frameworks. The 10-year Strategy of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (2008-2018) is designed with the kind of vision we are called to adopt today; where the nature in and from the drylands serves humanity now, and into perpetuity. One strategic objective is to improve the conditions of the drylands ecosystems affected by land degradation. Another is to improve the livelihoods of the populations in the drylands regions affected by land degradation or desertification, as the phenomenon is commonly referred to in respect of the drylands. As a measure of progress, the reports submitted during each second reporting cycle will quantify two aspects, starting in 2012. First, they will quantify the proportion of the population living above the poverty line, and second, the status of the land cover. The change in direction signals an increase or decrease of poverty or deforestation as the case may be. If the land cover is increasing, we can expect its forests and vegetation to continue servicing humanity. Similarly, if relatively more people are exiting poverty, then poverty as a cause of forest degradation is addressed, and the services provided by the drylands are more assured. In order for the real economic value of the services rendered by the drylands, including its arid zone forests to be correctly determined, the 2nd UNCCD Scientific Conference will be held in 2012, under the theme, ‘Economic assessment of desertification, sustainable land management and resilience of arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas’. Arid zone forests are the prototype of nature at humanity’s service, but are an incredibly taken for granted resource. Let this year’s World Environment Day be the year of an unequivocal commitment to the protection of the arid zone forest, land and water resources. Together we can improve the livelihoods of the communities affected by poverty, and eliminate a major cause of the degradation of the forest, water and land resources. Doing so, would enhance food security and secure the resources in the drylands for posterity. I applaud the United Nations Environment Programme for its unceasing quest for environmental sustainability, and congratulate India and UNEP, on this auspicious occasion, for reminding us that nature is not to be taken for granted. We abuse it at our peril.

World Environment Day 2011: Message from UNCCD ES Luc Gnacadja
Senegal to host the global observance event of the World Day to Combat Desertification and the first Africa Drylands Week

Governments and international organizations to address the challenges of desertification and biodiversity loss in the region Bonn, Germany/Rome, Italy, 3 June 2011 – Over 100 scientists, and representatives of government, international and civil society organizations from around the world will converge in Dakar, Senegal, from 10 to 17 June 2011, to develop an integrated approach to address the Region’s abiding challenges of desertification and biodiversity loss, and the new climate change threat. The First Africa Drylands Week will be held back-to-back with the global observance event on 17 June to mark this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification. The speakers at the events will include Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, representatives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Professor Jeffery Sachs, Earth Institute of Columbia University, Dennis Garrity, ICRAF Director-General, and Godwin Kowero, Executive Secretary of the African Forest Forum and other dignitaries. Djibo Leity Ka, Senegal’s Minister of State, Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection, will preside over the World Day to Combat Desertification. Several heads of UN agencies and international organizations have already sent messages in observance of the events. They are Jacques Diouf, Director General, FAO, Monique Barbut, Chief Executive, Global Environment Facility, Kanayo Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Ahmed Djoglaf, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity, Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christian Mersmann, Managing Director, Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, and Ambassador Kwon Byong Hyon, the SLM Champion of the UNCCD. “Land degradation often begins with deforestation, but leads to many other ills that we then try to address independent of each other. The spirit and mindset of the first African Drylands Week shows a paradigm shift that is emblematic of what the international community, as a whole, must do to surmount the grave environmental challenges facing us. Shedding our individual environmental blinders, will lead us to a holistic view of our environment, and a better identification of the sources, not symptoms, of such global environmental diseases,” says Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The First Africa Drylands Weeks and this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification are also part of 2011 International Year of Forests celebrating forests for people. The arid zone forests support the livelihoods of a large proportion of its two billion people inhabitants of the drylands. Overall deforestation has declined globally, but persists in Africa and South America, according to the FAO’s 2010 Global Forests Resource Assessment. The pressure on arid zone forests and the rangelands that protect them may increase, especially in the tropical and sub-tropical regions, from two opposing forces. There is a global campaign to conserve the moist tropical forests for carbon sequestration, on the one hand, and the need open up new land for agriculture to meet a growing global demand for biofuels, food and poverty eradication on the other. Increasingly, this pressure is being eased by reverting to the drylands. Field visits, high-level panel discussions and workshops will provide the platform for dialoguing and sharing knowledge around these issues, and the implementation of the biodiversity, climate change and desertification conventions. A way forward and a joint plan to enhancing collaboration among different organizations and partners will be defined and next steps to upscale good practices will be discussed. An information kit on the drylands will be launched during the Week in addition to other activities. The First Africa Drylands Week and World Day to Combat Desertification are organized by the Government of Senegal, in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the National Great Green Wall Agency of Senegal, the Earth Institute of Columbia University, African Forest Forum, FAO, the UNCCD secretariat, the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, the World Agroforestry Organization (ICRAF), the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) and Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI), and co-funded by the European Commission. Notes to Editors: From 10 to 12 June, two media tours will be organized for members wishing to participate. Due to the timing of the two itineraries, media can choose to participate in one media tour only. The first itinerary will take the participants to the regions of Kébemer, Louga and Linguere to visit various projects, including the dune fixation project and its management for tourism which is being implemented by the forest service, in partnership with NGOs and private sector organizations and the Acacia Operation Project which implemented by FAO with partners in Senegal (Forest Service, women local groups, the private sector, local communities). The itinerary will also include visits to various Acacia project sites, following the gum market chain from the forest to end product. The visits will also take us to the project sites of  the Millenium Villages Projects as well as to some Great Green Wall  initiative sites where interventions were implemented by the Agence Nationale de la grande Muraille Verte in Senegal in collaboration with local actors. The second itinerary will be organized in the region of Kaolak where visits will include sites showcasing desertification issues and the best practices piloted in the region for combating desertification. One of the sites for example is the site of Keur Bam, showcasing how degraded land can be restored through sustainable forest management, keeping desertification pressure away in order to aid the process of natural regeneration. Another site is the forest of Koutal which was totally restored thanks to the commitment and hard work of a local women’s group. For information on the first Africa Drylands Week contact: Serigne Mbodji/Agence Nationale de la Grande Muraille Verte (Senegal) email: serigne.mbodji@gmail.com Nora Berrahmouni/FAO email: nora.berrahmouni@fao.org Hervé Bisseleua/Earth Institute email: hbissel@gmail.com For information on the World Day to Combat Desertification, contact: Yukie Hori/UNCCD Secretariat email: yhori@unccd.int tel: +49 228 815 2829 Boubacar Cisse/UNCCD Secretariat tel: +216-7110 2311 ​​​​​​​email: b.cisse@afdb.org For information media-related inquiries, contact: Wagaki Mwangi, UNCCD Secretariat email: wmwangi@unccd.int tel: +49 (0)228 815 2820 cell: +49-173-268 7593. For information on media tour, contact: Serigne Mbodji/Agence Nationale de la Grande Muraille Verte (Senegal). email: serigne.mbodji@gmail.com

Senegal to host the global observance event of the World Day to Combat Desertification and the first Africa Drylands Week
Critical juncture in global efforts to combat desertification and mitigate drought effects

Bonn, Germany, 17 February 2011 – The UN’s top official on matters of drought, land degradation and desertification, Mr. Luc Gnacadja, claims that we are at crucial moment in history. “At the end of this year, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will, for the first time, have the tools to support national monitoring and vulnerability assessments on the biophysical and socioeconomic trends” in countries affected by these challenges. “You cannot improve what you cannot measure,” he said, so for the assessment to be conducted from 2012, “the UNCCD and its stakeholders will for the first time in history of the Convention be enabled to measure actions taken to materialize the UNCCD vision.” Executive Secretary Gnacadja made the remarks yesterday at the opening of the global gathering of scientists tasked by the Parties to the Convention, with providing guidance on how countries should measure the changes in land cover and poverty among the populations that live in the world’s drylands. The scientists drawn from governmental, non-governmental, international, intergovernmental organizations are attending a three-day meeting of the second special session of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST S-2) of the Convention taking place at the World Conference Center Bonn, Germany. Noting that the scientists are driving the agenda of the UNCCD process, Mr Gnacadja urged them to move the Convention to the realm of measurability. “There is a need to start already considering the development of possible targets, which will bring higher credibility to the process,” he added. At their meeting in 2009, the Parties agreed to assess the impact of the Convention through two mandatory and nine optional indicators. It called on the Committee on Science and Technology, through its Bureau, to guide the secretariat of the Convention to refine the methodologies and approaches that will be used with these indicators.  To this end, Professor Klaus Kellner of South Africa and current chair of the CST Bureau called for the active involvement of scientists from both the countries affected and not affected by desertification in the work of refining the indicators, setting up an effective system to manage knowledge and organizing the 2nd UNCCD Scientific Conference that will take place in 2012. In this way, he said, scientists will offer their best. The outcomes of the second special session of the CST will advance work on these issues, and the resulting recommendations forwarded to the tenth session of the UNCCD’s Conference of the Parties (COP 10), which will take place from 11-21 October 2011 in Changwon City, Republic of Korea. CST S-2 ends on Friday this week. About UNCCD Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development issues to the land agenda. The Convention focuses on all the world’s drylands, home to over 2 billion people, 50% of the world’s livestock and accounting for 44% of all cultivated ecosystems. The Convention’s 194 Parties are dedicated to combating land degradation and mitigating the effects of drought in the drylands by improving the living conditions of the affected populations and ecosystems. For more information, contact: Wagaki Mwangi UNCCD Secretariat email: wmwangi@unccd.int Cell: +49 173 268 7593

Critical juncture in global efforts to combat desertification and mitigate drought effects
Making a paradigm shift in the fight against desertification and drought

Bonn, Germany, 16 February 2011 – “The international community’s battle against desertification and the effects of drought is on the threshold of a paradigm shift,” Mr. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has said, ahead of a global conference on the Convention opening today at the World Conference Center Bonn, in Germany. “During the last four decades, initiatives to combat desertification and to mitigate the effects of drought lacked defined impact indicators. That is set to change when we meet next week to clarify the benchmarks to be used, going forward, to assess progress both in terms of the immediate action to be taken and long term change,” Mr. Gnacadja added. The second special session of the Committee for Science and Technology (CST S-2) which will take place from 16-18 February will focus on the methodologies to be used to measure changes in land cover status and the proportion of the population living above the poverty line in areas affected by desertification. These are the two mandatory indicators to measure impact agreed upon at the 2009 Conference of the Parties to the Convention. The CST is a subsidiary body of the Convention. “For nearly four decades, scientific consensus about the scope of land degradation and its global impact on livelihoods have been elusive. So, although countries and experts have been monitoring phenomena such as desertification, land degradation and drought, we cannot collectively determine its impacts because there is no harmonized approach or agreement on how to approach these assessments,” according to Professor Klaus Kellner, Chair of the CST 9 Bureau. “What the CST embarked on in 2008, and the focus of this session in particular, is to make progress towards developing this kind of a framework,” he said. “A framework that any country should can apply, and whose results can provide a basis for comparison across time and countries. In the long-term, the data would be aggregated at various levels and provide clarity about the scope of desertification globally or regionally. Data aggregation would enable parties to decide on the targets to aim for to guarantee the long-term sustainability of the drylands,” Prof. Kellner added. The meetings are path breaking for another reason. For the first time in the history of the Convention, the reports on the actions countries, civil society organizations and international organizations have taken to combat desertification and to mitigate the effects of drought will be based on one template with performance indicators, known as the Performance Review and Assessment of Implementation System, PRAIS. The reports, to be reviewed at the ninth session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation (CRIC 9) meeting of 21-25 February, are expected to provide the baseline for future performance assessments. “The development of PRAIS marks a defining moment for the Convention. At last, a clearer picture on the global state of investment and public expenditure into sustainable land management is starting to emerge. Precious data on the volume, source, geographic distribution and sectoral allocation of financial resources is now available, arming countries with the necessary tools to increase domestic budgetary allocations, and seize innovative opportunities at the national and international levels’’ adds Mr. Christian Mersmann, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD. CRIC is a subsidiary body of the Convention. The PRAIS was jointly developed by the UNCCD secretariat, the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC) in close consultation with the regional groupings of the Convention. The recommendations from the CST S-2 and CRIC 9 will be transmitted to the tenth session of Conference of the Parties (COP 10) for consideration when it meets in Changwon City, Republic of Korea, in October 2011. Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development issues to the land agenda. The Convention focuses on all the world’s drylands, home to over 2 billion people, 50% of the world’s livestock and accounting for 44% of all cultivated ecosystems. The Convention’s 194 Parties are dedicated to combating land degradation and mitigating the effects of drought in the drylands by improving the living conditions of the affected populations and ecosystems.

Making a paradigm shift in the fight against desertification and drought
Davos: counting the cost of land degradation and taking action

Bonn, Germany, 11 February 2011 – Winston Churchill once said: “If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory.” This might be the fate of humanity, unless the global community begins to take economic account of the global costs of desertification, land degradation and drought, according to Mr. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). A meaningful assessment must go beyond an analysis of the social and economic costs of use, and include the costs of inaction as well, he said. Mr. Gnacadja made the remarks in a keynote speech at the Global Risk Forum Davos during the World Economic Forum held on 26-30 January 2011. Noting that the “`Davos Forum’ is where great minds gather every year to consult on how to set and maintain the world economy on a pathway to sustainable growth and where world leaders come in search of new thinking,” he said “Davos is the right place to share views on why the international community needs to conduct a global assessment of the economics of desertification, land degradation and drought.” According to Mr. Gnacadja, the first and only global assessment of land degradation was conducted in 1992 by the United Nations Environment Programme. At the time, expert opinion suggested that the loss of crop and livestock productivity associated with land degradation amounted to US$42 billion. A year ago, a study sponsored by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment estimated that the mismanagement of soil biodiversity is in excess of US$1 trillion per year. As a first step towards such an assessment, Mr Gnacadja reported that the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation is supporting the preparation of a meta-analysis to take stock of existing studies in order to evaluate gaps as well as options for conducting such a study. He also reported that there are many places in the world with success stories waiting to be scaled up and disseminated to prevent land degradation and reclaim land, but wondered why investments for these activities are limited. During the occasion, he and Dr. Walter Ammann, President of the Swiss-based foundation, Global Risk Forum (GRF), signed a cooperative framework between their two institutions to address the global threat of desertification, land degradation and drought. The Memorandum of Understanding outlines several areas of cooperation, including strengthening local governance and enabling sustainable financial investments in specific projects on desertification, land degradation and drought. To read the full statement by Mr. Gnacadja, visit: For media information, contact: Wagaki Mwangi UNCCD Secretariat Bonn Email: wmwangi@unccd.int Tel: +49 228 815 2820

Davos: counting the cost of land degradation and taking action
Critical juncture in global efforts to combat desertification and mitigate drought effects

Bonn, Germany, 17 February 2011 – The UN’s top official on matters of drought, land degradation and desertification, Mr. Luc Gnacadja, claims that we are at crucial moment in history. “At the end of this year, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will, for the first time, have the tools to support national monitoring and vulnerability assessments on the biophysical and socioeconomic trends” in countries affected by these challenges. “You cannot improve what you cannot measure,” he said, so for the assessment to be conducted from 2012, “the UNCCD and its stakeholders will for the first time in history of the Convention be enabled to measure actions taken to materialize the UNCCD vision.” Executive Secretary Gnacadja made the remarks yesterday at the opening of the global gathering of scientists tasked by the Parties to the Convention, with providing guidance on how countries should measure the changes in land cover and poverty among the populations that live in the world’s drylands. The scientists drawn from governmental, non-governmental, international, intergovernmental organizations are attending a three-day meeting of the second special session of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST S-2) of the Convention taking place at the World Conference Center Bonn, Germany. Noting that the scientists are driving the agenda of the UNCCD process, Mr Gnacadja urged them to move the Convention to the realm of measurability. “There is a need to start already considering the development of possible targets, which will bring higher credibility to the process,” he added. At their meeting in 2009, the Parties agreed to assess the impact of the Convention through two mandatory and nine optional indicators. It called on the Committee on Science and Technology, through its Bureau, to guide the secretariat of the Convention to refine the methodologies and approaches that will be used with these indicators. To this end, Professor Klaus Kellner of South Africa and current chair of the CST Bureau called for the active involvement of scientists from both the countries affected and not affected by desertification in the work of refining the indicators, setting up an effective system to manage knowledge and organizing the 2nd UNCCD Scientific Conference that will take place in 2012. In this way, he said, scientists will offer their best. The outcomes of the second special session of the CST will advance work on these issues, and the resulting recommendations forwarded to the tenth session of the UNCCD’s Conference of the Parties (COP 10), which will take place from 11-21 October 2011 in Changwon City, Republic of Korea. CST S-2 ends on Friday this week. About UNCCD Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development issues to the land agenda. The Convention focuses on all the world’s drylands, home to over 2 billion people, 50% of the world’s livestock and accounting for 44% of all cultivated ecosystems. The Convention’s 194 Parties are dedicated to combating land degradation and mitigating the effects of drought in the drylands by improving the living conditions of the affected populations and ecosystems. For more information, contact: Wagaki Mwangi UNCCD Secretariat Email: wmwangi@unccd.int Cell: +49 173 268 7593

Critical juncture in global efforts to combat desertification and mitigate drought effects