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Bonn/New York, 16 June 2023 – Women facing worsening droughts, raging wildfires and other climate change impacts will deliver an urgent message to the international community at the United Nations in New York, calling for better land rights for women and girls everywhere. Drought, land degradation and desertification – all of which are becoming more frequent – are impacting women and girls first and worst, world leaders will hear at an event in the United Nations General Assembly on 16th June to mark Desertification and Drought Day. The theme of this year’s global observance, led by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), is ‘Her Land. Her Rights.’ Women make up around half of agricultural workers in developing countries and produce 60-80 per cent of food grown in these regions yet own less than one-fifth of all land worldwide. When land degrades and water and other resources become scarce, women and girls are exposed to poverty, hunger, displacement and violence. Among the leaders and gender equality champions advocating for women’s full land rights will be the Prime Ministers of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir and of Namibia Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, and the Vice-President of the Government of Spain Teresa Ribero Rodríguez. They will be joined by Finland’s first female President Tarja Halonen, UNCCD Goodwill Ambassadors and musicians Baaba Maal, Inna Modja and Ricky Kej, as well as indigenous and youth activists from countries as diverse as Canada and Chad. In a shared call to action, they will show there is a solution: women. They will say that when legal barriers to women owning and inheriting land are removed, women are able to make decisions on how to manage land, and both soil health and agricultural yields improve. Women are also more likely to invest in their family’s nutrition, health and education which benefits the whole of society. UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “Investing in women's equal access to land is not just an act of justice. It is an investment in our future, a commitment to the prosperity of our planet. It is an affirmation that we value not only the land beneath our feet, but the hands that work it.” To coincide with the event, UNCCD is launching a new analysis, which shows: Despite comprising nearly half the world's agricultural workforce and producing up to 80 per cent of food in developing countries, women’s rights to inherit their husband’s property continue to be denied in over 100 countries. Discriminatory practices related to land tenure, credit access, equal pay and decision-making often impede their active participation in sustaining land health. Today, less than one-in-five landholders worldwide are women. If women had equal rights to land, agricultural production in the poorest regions would increase by up to 4 per cent and malnourishment would decline by 12–17 per cent, resulting in 150m fewer hungry people globally. Countries with more women parliamentarians prioritize women and girls’ role in land protection and are more likely to ratify relevant treaties and set aside land for conservation. Meanwhile, only 12 per cent of the 881 national environment-related ministries run by elected officials are led by women. The event will continue to build on UNCCD’s ‘Her Land. Her Rights.’ campaign, which was launched on International Women’s Day in March 2023. Organized jointly by the UNCCD with UN Women, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Human Rights Office, and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the high-level event “Her Land. Her Rights: Advancing Gender Equality and Land Restoration Goals” will include debates and discussions on a woman’s role in sustainable land management. A digital photo exhibition entitled ‘Her Land’ created and curated by Inna Modja will offer an immersive experience of the daily realities facing women and girls living on the frontlines of desertification, land degradation and drought. She will also be joined by fellow Goodwill Ambassadors Baaba Maal and Ricky Kej in a live musical performance. In addition to New York, other events to mark Desertification and Drought Day – which officially falls every year on June 17th – will take place in all parts of the world, including China, Fiji, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Serbia, Türkiye, and Vietnam. ENDS Notes to editors For interviews and enquires please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com 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.
While plastic has many valuable uses, our dependency on it comes at high environmental, social, economic and health costs. The qualities that make plastic useful are also the ones that make it hazardous: designed to fool nature itself, most plastics are too resilient to biodegrade in a meaningful timeframe. Our current efforts to recycle plastics have been inefficient so far: only 9 percent of plastic is recycled globally, and much of it is either thrown away or cannot be processed for recycling. One third of all plastic waste ends up in soils or freshwater, endangering our food, our livestock and the health of the soil. Invisible to the eye, microplastics linger in the environment, the food chain, and our bodies. Soil is the foundation of our agricultural systems which support nearly all food-producing crops: about 95 percent of our food comes from soil. Fertile soil that produces our food is a finite resource, and plastic pollution can have long-lasting impact on soil health, biodiversity and productivity, all of which are essential to food security. To avoid the future where our food systems are choked by plastics, we must rethink the ways we produce, consume and dispose of them. “Our soils silently bear the weight of discarded plastics, impacting our daily lives. On this World Environment Day, let us redefine our relationships with plastic, from design to disposal” says UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw. The solution to plastic pollution is closer to the ground than we might think. Our commitment to beat plastic pollution combined with business incentives that address plastic dependency can result in a positive switch from the ‘throwaway economy’ to a ‘reuse’ society. Through our everyday choices as consumers, let us join efforts with governments and businesses, shifting toward sustainable plastic alternatives and reusable plastic products, to reduce damage to human health, the environment and the land.
Visual Assets including b-roll, photos with captions and social media assets are available here: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/2/folders/1GSIl_7nTGVMwQySQGwoLGtggRzHkIn-m Bonn (Germany), 02 June 2023 - The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is proud to announce that three-time Grammy Award winning Indian musician Ricky Kej has been appointed one of its official Goodwill Ambassadors. He has previously served as UNCCD Land Ambassador, helping the Convention raise awareness of land degradation, desertification and drought with his fans around the world. In this new designation, he will act as an honorary spokesperson, playing a crucial role in raising awareness and advocating for the objectives of the Convention with youth, women, children and affected communities. This announcement comes two weeks before the global observance of Desertification and Drought Day with a high-level event at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 16 June where Ricky will be performing alongside fellow UNCCD Goodwill Ambassadors, musicians Baaba Maal and Inna Modja. This year’s Desertification and Drought Day will put the global spotlight on women’s land rights under the slogan “Her Land. Her Rights”. The UNCCD was set up in 1994 in response to the global challenges of desertification, land degradation and drought. The Convention works with its 197 Parties to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality by 2030, a global target enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals. Up to 40 per cent of land worldwide is currently degraded, with dire consequences for our climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. Droughts are up 29 per cent since 2000, driven by climate change and land degradation. Women, especially those from poor and marginalized communities, are disproportionately affected, due to various factors including their limited access to and control of land. In all parts of the world, they face significant barriers in securing land rights, limiting their ability to thrive and prosper. Ibrahim Thiaw, Under-Secretary-General and UNCCD Executive Secretary, said: “I am honoured that Ricky Kej has agreed to take on the important role of UNCCD Goodwill Ambassador, joining musicians Baaba Maal and Inna Modja appointed to the same role earlier this year. With his global influence and commitment to sustainability, this outstanding artist will play a crucial role in raising awareness around the importance of combatting desertification, land degradation and drought. “I am confident that his appointment will significantly strengthen our efforts to mitigate today’s impacts of land degradation and advance tomorrow’s land stewardship to provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people in an equitable and inclusive manner.” Ricky Kej, internationally renowned and three-time Grammy-Award-winning Indian music producer and singer, said: “It's a privilege to be a UNCCD Goodwill Ambassador, and I'm committed to raising awareness about land degradation neutrality while championing gender equality. I believe that by empowering women, we can inspire global action to protect our Earth and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.” “My passion for music and environmental action extends to promoting empowerment and equality for all. It is important to tackle desertification and land degradation while uplifting every member of our global community. As part of my mandate as UNCCD Goodwill Ambassador, I will continue to contribute to these efforts.” ENDS Notes to editors For more information or interviews, please contact: UNCCD Press Office: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com Xenya Scanlon, Chief of Communications, External Relations and Partnerships, firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Banda Genchev, Goodwill Ambassador Focal Point, email@example.com About UNCCD 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. About Ricky Kej Ricky Kej is a music composer, US Billboard chart No.1 artist, and a three-time Grammy winner. He is also a passionate advocate for sustainable development and environmental action. In 2019, Ricky composed the UNCCD anthem “Born from the Land”, which he performed at the high-level event with his co-writer and fellow Goodwill Ambassador, Baaba Maal. Ricky’s environmentalist advocacy efforts have been recognized by various accolades over the years – he received the United Nations “Global Humanitarian Artist” award, the Ban Ki-moon Award and was named one of the 100 Real Leaders who ‘Inspire the Future’ as well as the Parliament of Canada’s Outstanding Musical and Humanitarian award and was named as one of the 100 Real Leaders who ‘Inspire the Future’. About Desertification and Drought Day 2023 This year’s Desertification and Drought Day, marked on 17 June, will put the global spotlight on women’s land rights with events taking place in New York and around the world. The global observance event, titled “Her Land. Her Rights: Advancing Gender Equality and Land Restoration Goals” will take place at the United Nations Headquarters’ General Assembly Hall on Friday, 16 June 2023. The event will be opened by the President of the 77th General Assembly, and will convene high-level policymakers, women leaders, renowned scientists, land activists, and youth representatives from around the world to discuss policies and actions needed to advance women’s land rights and promote stronger female leadership and decision-making power in sustainable land management. The event is open to media and can be followed online via UN Web TV. More information, including registration details, can be found here.
Excellencies, dear Friends, It is a pleasure for me to address you today from the headquarters of the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Let me begin by expressing my recognition to the Russian Federation for hosting this event. The Nevsky Congress is a clear testimony of the paramount importance of the environmental agenda. No corner of the globe is immune from the devastating consequences of climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation and drought. Sea levels are rising, oceans are acidifying, the Arctic is melting, forests are burning, weather extremes are intensifying. Droughts hit everywhere and with more intensity. Rising temperatures are fuelling environmental degradation and economic deterioration. Therefore, the theme of today´s meeting “Ecology: a right, not a privilege” couldn’t be more relevant. We cannot afford to take today´ situation for granted. Resolute and concerted actions are needed for the sake of present and future generations; for their right to a decent life and environment. However, all rights go hand in hand with responsibilities. And our collective responsibility is to think about our Planet and to take care of the land which belongs to us all. Without urgent action on how we use and steward our land, we cannot aspire to sustainable development for all. Land generates the food we eat. Land produces the fibre necessary to our clothing. The water we drink is coming from terrestrial ecosystems. The quality of the air we breathe also partly depends on the health of our land. Therefore, I would like to call upon all the participants here today to think about land restoration as a powerful and cost-effective sustainable development tool. Investing in large-scale land restoration to build resilience to drought, combat soil erosion, and loss of agricultural production is a win-win solution for everybody: for the environment, for the climate, for the economy, and for the livelihoods of local communities. Sustainable agriculture and nature-based solutions are a smart way to increase food production, stabilize climate, create employment, and wealth and prosperity. These challenges are of importance to all. Ladies and gentlemen, Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. 2024 is also the year of COP16 of the Convention, which will be hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification is the only legally binding global treaty set up to address land degradation and the effects of drought. Next year’s Nevsky International Congress may therefore be a good platform to discuss these issues. Sharing and enhancing knowledge on drought resilience, sustainable land management and restoration is key to improving land and livelihoods. UNCCD stands ready to provide it’s support. I wish you a successful and fruitful meeting and a productive discussion. Spasíbo. Thank you very much for your attention!
Tobacco growing not only harms human health, but the health of our land as well, undermining the future of our food. While today a record 349 million people are facing acute food insecurity, tobacco is grown in over 124 countries, taking up 3.2 million hectares of fertile land that could be used to grow food. The World No Tobacco Day on 31 May under the slogan “Grow food, not tobacco” encourages governments to end tobacco-growing subsidies and use the savings to support farmers who make a switch to more sustainable crops that improve food security and nutrition. While we are aware of the health impact of tobacco, which kills more than 8 million people annually around the globe, we tend to think less about the destructive effect of tobacco cultivation for the environment. To meet the demand for land needed for tobacco cultivation, 200,000 hectares of forests are destroyed each year. For every 15 boxes of cigarettes sold, a tree is chopped down. Tobacco causes other forms of land degradation, such as soil erosion, because it is usually planted as a monocrop, leaving topsoil poorly protected from wind and water, reducing soil fertility and disrupting water cycles. Tobacco crops also require large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that pollute the soil and pose a serious hazard for farmers and their families. Recognizing that there is no sustainable future in tobacco, farmers in Kenya and Zambia are making a shift to growing high-yield and nutritious food crops such as high-iron beans with the support of the Tobacco-Free Farms Initiative launched by World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Capital Development Fund and the UNCCD, supported by the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and in collaboration with the national ministries of health and agriculture. Creating a supportive crop production and marketing ecosystem means mapping value chain options for nutrient-dense alternative food crops and supporting sourcing of inputs, training in good agricultural practices, enabling access to microfinance opportunities and credit, and improving post-harvest processing systems. Tobacco-Free Farms Initiative has been active in Migori County, Kenya for the last four growing seasons, successfully supporting over 1,400 farmers switching from tobacco to food crops and is currently being scaled to three new tobacco growing counties in Kenya (Meru, Busia, Bungoma) and one tobacco growing province in Zambia (Eastern Province). By the end of 2024, the project expects: At least 4000 farmers in Kenya (across four counties) and 1000 farmers in Zambia (across one province) will have converted from tobacco growing to alternative crops At least 25 per cent increase in acres of land attributed to alternative crops in target counties/provinces At least 200 per cent increase in annual income of 80 per cent of farmers who switch from tobacco growing to alternative crops One of the key outcomes of the project is increased return-on-investment for farmers who shift from tobacco to alternative crops. Farmers supported by the initiative to grow high-iron beans are earning at least three times as much as they were growing tobacco in one season. What is good for the farmers is also good for the land. The Tobacco-Free Farms Initiative supports the 2030 agenda on poverty reduction, human health, reduced inequality and economic growth while tackling climate change and combating environmental degradation to secure land resources that feed the growing world population.