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Desertification and Drought Day 2024: “United for Land: Our Legacy. Our Future” 

Bonn, Germany, 21 February 2024 – This year’s Desertification and Drought Day, observed on 17 June, will focus on the future of land stewardship. Every second, an equivalent of four football fields of healthy land becomes degraded – adding up to a total of 100 million hectares every year. Engaging present and future generations is more important than ever to halt and reverse these alarming trends and meet global commitments to restore 1 billion hectares of degraded land by 2030. The theme chosen for this year's Desertification and Drought Day — “United for Land: Our Legacy. Our Future.” — seeks to mobilize all parts of society in support of sustainable land stewardship. 17 June 2024 will also mark the 30th anniversary of the Bonn-based United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)— the sole legally binding international treaty on land management and drought ; one of the three Rio Conventions alongside climate change and biodiversity. Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, said: “Up to 40 per cent of the world’s land is already degraded, affecting  close to half of humanity. Yet the solutions are on the table. Land restoration lifts people out of poverty and builds resilience to climate change. It is time to unite for land and show a red card to land loss and degradation worldwide.” Hosted by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, the global observance event will take place at the Bundeskunsthalle (Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany) in Bonn on Monday, 17 June 2024. “Around a quarter of the world’s population is affected by drought. The condition of our soils in Europe is also deteriorating rapidly. Protecting soil and land is a global challenge. We need to take action together today so that the generations to come can have access to vital natural resources. We will only be able to feed humankind and deal with the climate and biodiversity crisis if we have healthy soils,” Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Bringing together leaders from all over the world, youth and prominent personalities from academia, civil society, sports and entertainment, the global observance event will showcase a strong ambition to be united for land, ahead of the largest-ever UN conference on land and drought in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in December 2024 (UNCCD COP16). Throughout May and June, UNCCD together with the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the City of Bonn as their partner, will kick-start a #UNited4Land public awareness campaign and will be engaged in various events in and around Bonn on the future of land stewardship. Katja Dörner,  Lady Mayor of Bonn said: “As the home of the UNCCD and a city on the path towards climate neutrality in 2035, Bonn can only think and protect climate, nature and land together. Land is everything— and so much more than the area our city is built on. Land is the soil on which our crops grow, a habitat for plants and animals, a sponge for water, open space and cooling corridor— and a legacy that we pass on to future generations.” Countries around the world are mobilizing to mark Desertification and Drought Day with an array of educational, cultural and sporting activities—from film screenings to football tournaments and from tree planting to gardening competitions. A full programme of events will be available online at: https://www.unccd.int/events/desertification-drought-day. About Desertification and Drought Day Officially declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994 (A/RES/49/115), Desertification and Drought Day, marked annually on 17 June, has the following objectives:   To promote public awareness of the issues linked to desertification, land degradation and drought To showcase human-led solutions to prevent desertification and reverse intensifying droughts To strengthen the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Take part in this year’s celebration: To find out more about this year’s Desertification and Drought Day, click here: https://www.unccd.int/DDD2024 To access #UNited4Land campaign materials, click here: https://trello.com/b/VdJGolcp/desertification-and-drought-day-2024 To learn more about Desertification and Drought Day activities around the world, click here: https://www.unccd.int/events/desertification-drought-day/2024/events-around-world For online participation in the global observance event in Bonn, please contact: communications(at)unccd.int For more information, please contact: UNCCD: Xenya Scanlon, +49 152 5454 0492, xscanlon@unccd.int or Yannis Umlauf, +49 178 285 8629 yumlauf@unccd.int with copy to press@unccd.int   BMZ: Press Unit, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development Tel: +49 (0)30 18 535-2451, Email: presse@bmz.bund.de, www.bmz.de

Desertification and Drought Day 2024: “United for Land: Our Legacy. Our Future” 
Become the next UNCCD Land Hero!

About UNCCD Land Heroes The UNCCD Land Heroes campaign recognizes and supports young individuals and youth-led/based organizations making positive impacts against desertification, land degradation, and drought. Through online engagement, we raise awareness, share success stories, and empower youth as change agents in sustainable land management, engaging them in implementing the convention. Building on the success of the inaugural 2020 cohort, the second cohort of Land Heroes continues to inspire and mobilize youth to promote the UNCCD's objectives. About the Land Heroes campaign Part of the Land for Life Programme, #LandHeroes showcases youth's dedication to sustainable land management. These organizations and individuals share transformative journeys through social media, videos, blogs, and our dedicated website, amplifying their contributions and recognizing both young men and women as critical forces for positive change. Join us in celebrating these remarkable land champions. Objective The Land Heroes campaign aims to identify, celebrate, and support youth aged 18-35 engaged in sustainable land management, raising awareness of land's link to biodiversity and climate. By sharing stories, we inspire change, unite youth, provide mentorship, and showcase the transformative power of collective efforts. Campaign goals Raise awareness of land's connection to biodiversity and climate Spotlight diverse ways youth positively impact the land Share inspiring stories showcasing collective progress Empower youth to spread campaign messages and take action Provide mentorship in sustainable land management Share success stories to foster understanding and awareness Categories of Land Heroes Drought resilience: Early warning systems: Implementing proactive measures to anticipate and respond to drought conditions effectively. Mitigating the effects of drought: Innovative strategies for drought impact mitigation and ensure water availability. Adopting scalable and inclusive approaches: Promoting strategies that can be expanded to larger scales and inclusive of vulnerable populations to enhance drought resilience. Land restoration: Large-scale land restoration: Leadership in restoring degraded land on a large scale, contributing to ecosystem restoration and biodiversity conservation. Community-level land restoration: Impactful initiatives restoring degraded land at the community level, enhancing livelihoods and resilience. Inclusivity and equality: Gender equality and women's empowerment: Initiatives promoting gender equality in land ownership, decision-making, and conservation efforts Social equity: Initiatives promoting poverty eradication, social cohesion, etc. Indigenous knowledge: Amplifying indigenous knowledge and practices, recognizing their vital role in sustainable land management Science and innovation: Innovation: Innovative approaches in sustainable land management Technology: Harnessing technology for land monitoring, data analysis, and knowledge-sharing on sustainable practices Science and research: Contributions to scientific research and evidence-based decision-making in land management Key features of Land Heroes Youth engagement (18-35) in addressing land challenges Role models inspiring peers through dedication Inspirational leadership mobilizing youth for collective responsibility Passionate and dedicated to combating desertification and degradation Vision for change: Clear understanding and innovative strategies Collaboration with stakeholders for effective partnerships Strong communication: Effective online presence to inspire action Benefits for Land Heroes Grant of US$1,000 for top finalists in each category Attendance at high-level UNCCD meetings Publicity and recognition through interviews, media, and social platforms Mentorship for leadership, communication, and project management Opportunities to support UNCCD through advocacy, workshops, and content creation Participation in challenges and innovation forums Coordination with other Land Heroes for workshops and collaborative projects Identification of Land Heroes Ten Land Heroes are selected over two years based on criteria aligned with categories. Timeline Deadline extended: 29 February 2024 June 2024: Desertification and Drought Day December 2024: Participation in COP16 Meet the current cohort: Land Heroes Follow Us on social media: Twitter X | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn 

Become the next UNCCD Land Hero!
Signing of COP16 host country agreement with Saudi Arabia: Remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw

Your Excellency Minister Abdulrahman Al-Fadley, Honorable Ministers and Deputy ministers, Dear Colleagues and friends, It’s an honor for me to sign this agreement, on behalf of the United Nations, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as host to the Conference of the Parties (COP16) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). I would like to thank Minister Al-Fadley, and through you, the Government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The moment could not be more solemn: today we have signed more than a Host Country Agreement. We are sealing the commitment between two Parties, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Nations, to join forces, to forge daily relationships, to build bridges across oceans and continents in order to make Riyadh, from 2 to 13 December 2024, the Multilateral Capital of the World, as far as our relations with the land are concerned. We are building an umbrella under which vulnerable populations around the world will find protective shelter to build their resilience in the face of severe and destructive droughts. Indeed, Saudi Arabia, its people and its Leadership will welcome tens of thousands of participants to the sixteenth session (COP16) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Land Degradation and Mitigate the Effects of Drought. Between the time we sign this agreement and the time we actually hold the Conference of the Parties, humanity will have degraded some 100 million hectares of fertile land. Over the same period, it is feared that hundreds of millions of people will be hit by severe droughts, with no safety valve or protective cushion. During the same period, women, children and other vulnerable groups will find themselves forced to flee from poverty, often venturing on extraordinarily perilous odysseys. Unless exceptional measures are taken, the loss of soil and productive land will lead to further conflicts over access to land and water, further food insecurity and, in some cases, a total loss of food sovereignty. Ladies and Gentlemen, COP16 will put a human face on these so-called natural or ecological phenomena. Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of this global treaty, COP16 will take place at a pivotal moment for our Convention. It is the time to move from strategies, plans and other methodological visions to action. It is the time to transform pledges into operations on the ground. Having realized how much we have scarred the face of the earth, we need to heal the wounds, not only to make the earth more beautiful, but to enable it to provide us with more vital services. We need the land. Land does not need us. We live off the land, it feeds us, clothes us and waters us. COP 16 gives humanity the opportunity not only to review its relationship with nature, but also to save itself from the perils it is inflicting on itself. Riyadh, in December, will be this nurturing and refreshing oasis in the middle of the desert. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be offering the representatives of the 197 Contracting Parties to the UNCCD and many other stakeholders not only its legendary hospitality but also a strong sense of solidarity and shared commitment.   We hope the world will heed our urgent call and this generous invitation from our hosts to come together in Riyadh for COP16 and secure our land's future. Thank you. Shukran.

Signing of COP16 host country agreement with Saudi Arabia: Remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw
Saudi Arabia to host largest-ever UN conference on land and drought

Riyadh, 31 January 2024 – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) signed an agreement paving the way for the 16th session of the Convention’s Conference of the Parties (COP16) in Riyadh from 2-13 December 2024.  The Riyadh 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. 2024 also marks the 30th anniversary of the UNCCD, one of the three major environmental treaties known as the Rio Conventions, alongside climate change and biodiversity.  At the signing ceremony in Riyadh today, Eng. Abdulrahman Abdulmohsen AlFadley, Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture and COP16 President, said: “The hosting of the conference (COP16) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reflects the commitment of the wise leadership to environmental protection at the national, regional, and international levels. Additionally, Saudi Arabia launched several groundbreaking environmental projects, such as the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative.”  UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “Today, we are losing fertile lands at an alarming rate, jeopardizing global stability, prosperity and sustainability. The Riyadh COP16 must mark a turning point in the way we treat our most precious resource—land—and collectively tackle the global drought emergency.”  According to UNCCD data, up to 40 per cent of the world’s land is degraded, affecting half of humanity and with dire consequences for our climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. If current trends continue, restoring 1.5 billion hectares of land by 2030 will be necessary to achieve a land-degradation-neutral world.   Droughts are hitting more often and harder all over the world—up by 29 per cent since 2000—driven by climate change but also the way we manage our land. One-quarter of the world’s population is already affected by droughts, with every three out of four people around the world projected to face water scarcity by 2050.  The Riyadh COP16 will focus on mobilizing governments, businesses and communities worldwide to accelerate action on land restoration and drought resilience as a cornerstone of food, water and energy security.   The two-week event will feature a high-level segment, as well as associated events including the Gender Caucus and the Business for Land Forum.   Taking place in the most water-scarce region and one that is severely affected by desertification and land degradation, the Riyadh COP16 will showcase efforts underway in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East region and beyond towards a green transition based on sustainable land stewardship.   For more information, please contact: Wael A Bushah, Managing Director, Environmental Awareness and Capabilities Enhancement, Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Wbushah@mewa.gov.sa. Xenya Scanlon, Chief, Communications, External Relations and Partnerships, UNCCD, xscanlon@unccd.int   UNCCD Press Office, press@unccd.int, +49 228 815 2820, https://www.unccd.int/, @unccd #UNited4Land #COP16Riyadh #UNCCDCOP16 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.

Saudi Arabia to host largest-ever UN conference on land and drought
CYNK, KenGrow and UNCCD join new climate-smart agriculture project to empower female farmers 

Together KenGrow, Flux, Hiveonline and CYNK will deliver digital infrastructure alongside new regenerative agriculture techniques to increase climate finance inclusion for Kenyan women in rural communities.    Dubai, December 2023. CYNK, a leading climate finance platform founded in Nairobi, Kenya, announces a new partnership with KenGrow and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to provide funding and expertise to women smallholder farmers in emerging economies. The first climate smart regenerative agriculture project, based in Kisumu, Kenya, will see CYNK teaming up with KenGrow, a foundation that builds bridges between communities within Kenya and Flux, an organisation specialised in Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW), headquartered in Nairobi. Leveraging Hiveonline’s digital community finance platform KenGrow members will have access to financial inclusion tools that give women greater control of their finances.   CYNK's cutting-edge technology is set to empower women members of the KenGrow group in rural communities through a groundbreaking UNCCD Climate Smart Agriculture project. This partnership unlocks a triple win: increased income, climate resilience, and digital inclusion.    Women farmers will generate additional income by sequestering carbon on their farms and earning carbon credit revenue streams via CYNK's platform. This reduces their reliance on expensive synthetic fertilizers, further boosting their profits and yields. Additionally, CYNK's virtual training empowers them to adopt innovative, nature-positive farming techniques, specifically tailored to the cyclical nature and seasonality of agriculture. This builds resilience and paves the way for long-term success. The Kisumu-based project will combine Flux’s pioneering regenerative agriculture technique, with KenGrow’s networking and training opportunities. Flux reduces the overreliance on synthetic fertilizers by providing a natural soil health improver in the form of volcanic rock powders. This technique has the potential to sequester up to 5 gigatons of CO2 per year globally. It will support the socio-economic development of 2,000 Kenyan women in grassroots rural and peri-urban communities. Sudhu Arumugam, CEO at CYNK, commented: “We are proud to partner with these prestigious organisations to provide female smallholder farmers an opportunity to enhance their farming expertise and generate additional revenue streams via our carbon credit platform. It is critical to deploy scalable technology like regenerative agriculture to promote women’s financial resilience, protect soils relied upon by local communities and contribute to global climate goals.”  Louise Baker, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism at UNCCD, added: “We are excited to launch our Climate Smart Agriculture project in partnership with KenGrow and CYNK. It is clear that female smallholder farmers need to be at the forefront of climate action - this program will strengthen their capacity to apply positive agricultural and climate resilient practices. Investing in women’s access to funding and expertise is not only a question of justice but a commitment to the prosperity of our lands.”    For media inquiries contact London  Tristan Peniston-Bird, Portland Communications  +44 7772 031 886, Tristan.Peniston-Bird@Portland-Communications.com Pauline Guenot, Portland Communications +44 7379 068 832, Pauline.Guenot@Portland-Communications.com  Nairobi Joel Chacha, Portland Communications +254 722 909 251, Joel.Chacha@Portland-Communications.com About CYNK CYNK is an end-to-end platform that covers the lifecycle of a carbon or biodiversity credit. From origination, financing and secondary trading of carbon, CYNK is a one-stop platform for the origination of high-integrity credits with fully immutable audit trails of digital Monitoring Reporting and Verification (dMRV) via blockchains. https://www.CYNK.io

CYNK, KenGrow and UNCCD join new climate-smart agriculture project to empower female farmers