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Land gets a needed four-year financial boost from the Global Environment Facility

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.

Land gets a needed four-year financial boost from the Global Environment Facility
Land-based solutions offer a key opportunity for climate mitigation

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released today sounds the alarm on the urgent action needed to keep the 1.5 degree temperature rise limit within reach, with global climate commitments falling drastically short of the target. At the same time, the IPCC assessment highlights the important role of land in tackling rising greenhouse gas emissions. “To keep the 1.5-degree limit agreed in Paris within reach, we need to cut global emissions by 45 percent this decade. But current climate pledges would mean a 14 percent increase in emissions,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his statement on the release of the Panel’s Working Group III AR6 Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change report. In addition to major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, major cuts in other sectors will also be necessary. Land contributes a quarter of all emissions. At the same time, land-based ecosystems absorbed around 30 per cent of the carbon emissions generated through human activity in the last decade and could provide 20 to 30 percent of the mitigation required to ensure global warming stays below 1.5oC towards 2050 [1]. “The latest IPCC report offers a sobering, yet hopeful assessment, clearly showing that land-based solutions can provide a significant contribution to global efforts to tackle climate change,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). “If managed sustainably, land can deliver large-scale greenhouse gas emission reductions. But this will require us to urgently rethink the way we approach agriculture, forestry and other land use activities,” he added. “The Sixth Assessment Report provides an important context to consider future global policy action on issues such as land restoration and early action on drought, which are on the agenda of the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD to be held on 9-20 May in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire,” Thiaw observed. The IPCC report documents that net greenhouse gas emissions rose 12% between 2010 and 2019 and were 54% (21 GtCO2-eq) higher than in 1990 [2]. Overall, emissions from the land sector – agriculture, forests, land use and land use change – fell from 13 to 11 percent of the total emissions across all sectors during this period. “There is an urgency to restore the one billion hectares of degraded lands by 2030 to cut land-based emissions massively. We must strengthen the land’s ability to absorb and store carbon emissions – and that means ensuring it remains healthy. What’s more, restoring land back to health will also enable us to simultaneously increase food production from existing agricultural land and restore ground water sources that we are losing. – UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw The report warns that the land’s natural ability to hold and remove carbon is not infinite. Moreover, the carbon sink potential of land declines with every passing year of increased warming. More so, if we fail to take the actions needed to make the land resilient to climate change. The report lays out that there are both synergies and trade-offs between climate action and the pursuit of other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many of which are tied to competing demands for land. For example, the pressure to convert natural forests or grasslands as demand for food, water and urban growth increases, land-based emissions may also increase. This is particularly the case for developing countries. This indicates it will be important to recover degraded land. To do this effectively, however, the obstacles to the effective use of land-based actions, including insecure land tenure and fragmentation in land ownership, must be overcome. And it will mean ensuring future land management is sustainable to avoid reversals, such as restored land being degraded once more. The IPCC confirms that addressing land degradation can have multiple synergies with the SDGs, particularly when supported by frameworks designed to help manage trade-offs while promoting responsible governance and the involvement of local communities and indigenous peoples, particularly when supported by frameworks such as Land Degradation Neutrality within the UNCCD [2]. To realize the opportunities land provides while addressing the challenges of the interaction of climate change and land degradation, UNCCD is developing policy tools to ensure future land use planning fully integrates municipal, agricultural and conservation objectives. In essence, doing the right thing in the right places at the right scales. The Convention also promotes policies that put carbon back where it belongs, in the soil, where it contributes to biodiversity, land productivity and even water security in the face of increasing drought. The Working Group III report is the last of the three reports issued by IPCC as part of the sixth assessment of the status of climate change. Working Group I Report, titled AR6 Climate Change 2022: The Physical Science Basis, was released in August 2021. Working Group II Report, titled, AR6 Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, was released in February 2022. The Synthesis Report will be the last of the AR6 products and is scheduled to be released in September 2022. References:  [1] IPCC, 2022: Technical Summary. In Climate Change 2022: Mitigation Of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Technical Summary  [2] IPCC, 2022: Summary for Policymakers. Climate Change 2022: Mitigation Of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  For more information, contact: Xenya Scanlon, UNCCD Chief of Communications, xscanlon@unccd.int Wagaki Wischnewski, UNCCD Head of News and Media, press@unccd.int

Land-based solutions offer a key opportunity for climate mitigation
UNCCD Land Ambassador Ricky Kej wins another Grammy

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.

UNCCD Land Ambassador Ricky Kej wins another Grammy
Ibrahim Thiaw: Remarks at African Group pre-COP preparatory meeting

Excellence Monsieur le Ministre, Monsieur le Président du Groupe Africain, Honorables représentants de la Commission de l’Union Africaine de le Banque Africaine de Développement   Honorables délégués, Mesdames et Messieurs Permettez-moi, à l’entame de mes propos, d’exprimer l’immense plaisir que j’ai d’être de nouveau à Marrakech. Cet endroit mythique, tracé au 11è siècle  par les Almoravides. Marrakech reste à ce jour marqué par un fonds culturel remontant à l’empire du Ghana. Ceci explique peut-être pourquoi, dans mon subconscient, je suis toujours enthousiasmé à l’idée de revoir Marrakech. Aussi, voudrais-je saisir cette occasion pour exprimer toute ma gratitude au Royaume du Maroc pour la chaleur de l’accueil et l’hospitalité particulière dont le peuple et le gouvernment chérifien ont le secret. Dear friends, 2022 is an important year for Africa. The continent is hosting UNCCD COP15 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and UNFCCC COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. This is an opportunity for Africa to exercise its leadership and address ecosystem restoration, especially land restoration, and mitigating the effects of drought and climate change.   The last time Africa hosted a UNCCD COP was 9 years ago, in 2013, in Windhoek, Namibia. I am grateful to Côte d’Ivoire for hosting our COP. This great African Nation is once again playing its leadership role, despite the complexity of hosting such an event during the ongoing pandemic and under the  very special circumstances currently prevailing in the world. Côte d’Ivoire is a renowned world leader in cocoa production and other commodities, including coffee, cashew nuts, rubber and cotton. The economy of the country, like many others in Africa, is largely based on its natural capital. So in a way, we will be celebrating the great achievements of the country. Mesdames, messieurs, Permettez-moi de vous dire un peu plus sur la COP. Une conférence que nous organisons sous le thème: « Terre. La vie. Héritage : de la rareté à la prospérité».   C’est un appel à l’action pour garantir que la terre qui est la bouée de sauvetage de cette planète, continue de profiter aux générations présentes et futures. La COP commence par un Sommet de Chefs d’État et de Gouvernement le 9 mai, suivi le lendemain, d’un segment ministériel. UnCaucus sur le genre sera tenu le 10 avec la Première Dame de Côte d’Ivoire à l’honneur. Deux grandes thématiques domineront les discussions du Segment de Haut niveau, à savoir la Sècheresse et la Restauration des terres dégradées  à grande échelle. Le monde réalise enfin que la sécheresse est un phénomène qui nous affecte tous. Riche ou pauvre, aucun pays n’est à l’abri de la sécheresse. Lorsqu’elle survient dans les pays moins nantis, la sécheresse aggrave la pauvreté et la famine. La sécheresse pèse lourdement sur les économies africaines et le PIB. Malheureusement, elle affecte de manière disproportionnée les plus vulnérables en particulier les pauvres, les femmes et les enfants. Cette année encore, nous avons tous été choqués par des images insoutenables provenant de Madagascar et de la Corne de l’Afrique. Nous avons perdu le sommeil au vu de ces images d’enfants faméliques, d’adultes en situation de malnutrition ou de girafes gisant sur des terres chaudes et craquelantes. Dans les conditions extrêmes, la sécheresse arrache aux populations les plus vulnérables le seul espoir qui leur restait : nourrir leurs enfants pour survivre à la famine. En effet, pour ceux dont la terre est la seule source de revenu, les épisodes de sécheresse sont synonymes de perte de production, de perte d’espoir, voire de perte de vie. A chaque fois que la sécheresse sévit, un implacable chapelet de malheurs s’abat sur ceux dont la terre est la seule source de revenu. A défaut de pluies, les paysans et les éleveurs voient le ciel leur tomber sur la tête.   En effet, répétons le pour une troisième fois, les petits producteurs n’ont que la terre comme source unique de revenu. Pour eux, la terre est leur Produit National Brut,  le seul refuge qui soit. Aussi, une terre dépouillée de sa couverture productrice et dont les sols sont dépecés, renvoie-t-elle à l’image, violente, d’un visage scarifié ou d’un corps mutilé. Alors que les petits producteurs africains sont parmi les plus vulnérables aux déficits pluviométriques, il convient de rappeler avec insistance, que la sécheresse n’est pas qu’un phénomène africain. Des épisodes de sécheresse surviennent sous toutes les latitudes, avec des conséquences humaines, écologiques et économiques plus ou moins graves. Cette année, le Maroc où nous sommes réunis aujourd’hui n’a guère été épargné. Pas plus pour les Etats-unis, l’Espagne, le Canada ou le Portugal. Chaque année, l’on égraine une liste de plus plus longue de pays affectés. La sécheresse semble porter plusieurs noms, reflet de la multitude de conséquences du désastre naturel: famine, feux de forêts, décroissance économique, troubles civils, instabilité politique, insécurité alimentaire etc. La sécheresse détruit les écosystèmes, déstructure les sociétés et jette des millions de personnes sur les routes de l’immigration forcée, accentuant l’exode rural. La sécheresse accentue les phénomènes de suicide. Que reste-t-il à faire à un éleveur ou un paysan qui perd jusqu’à sa dignité ? Reconnaissant la nature multiforme des conséquences de sécheresses, rendues de plus en plus fréquentes et violentes par les variations climatiques, la COP14 à New Delhi a donc mis en place un groupe de travail intergouvernemental et multi-disciplinaire sur la sécheresse. L’objectif est d’éclairer le débat lors de notre prochaine session. Le groupe de travail a soumis son rapport pour la COP 15, dans l’espoir d’aider à atténuer les risques et les impacts négatifs de la sécheresse. J’espère que le rapport du Groupe de Travail aidera les Parties à identifier les solutions idoines, adaptées à la situation des différentes catégories d’économies. Une panoplie de solutions semblent s’offrir aux Parties. Il serait judicieux d’en explorer les différents potentiels.    Les négociations sur la sécheresse représentent une des plus importantes négociations de l’histoire de la Convention. Et le Groupe Africain a un rôle très important à jouer. L’autre grand thème de notre COP sera la restauration à grande échelle. Le monde réalise enfin que la restauration des terres est une réponse multiforme à différents défis auxquels l’humanité fait face. A commencer par les sécheresses. Restaurer les terres, c’est les rendre à nouveau productives – pour satisfaire aux besoins de sécurité alimentaire, pour l’approvisionnement en eau ou la création d’emploi. Restaurer les terres à grande échelle, c’est aussi contribuer à l’atténuation des effets du changement climatique, c’est conserver la biodiversité et lutter contre la pauvreté. La terre est le PIB du pauvre ; c’est son compte bancaire. La restauration des terres à grande échelle est ainsi un instrument de paix, de prospérité et de stabilité pour les futures générations. Que l’Afrique s’engage avec autant de conviction sur des programmes régionaux de réhabilitation des terres à grande échelle est une source d’inspiration. Les initiatives en cours au Sahel (la Grande muraille verte), ou en développement en Afrique australe ou possiblement de l’Afrique orientale servent de modèles. D’autres régions d’Afrique suivront, comme le font déjà le Moyen Orient (Middle East Green Initiative), la Chine, l’Inde, le Pakistan, l’Union Européenne ou encore l’Amérique latine. L’Afrique doit poursuivre et renforcer ses investissements pour réhabiliter ses terres productives. Il s’agit d’une activité economiquement rentable. Le Continent a en effet perdu au moins 65% de ses terres arables au cours des 70 dernières années, alors que sa population a cru d’au moins 600% pendant la même période. Pour un continent dont l’économie dépend tant du secteur primaire, cette disproportion entre la disponibilité des terres arables et le nombre de nouvelles bouches à nourrir est inquiétante et mérite une attention particulière. Dear delegates, Let me share with you a piece of good news: land restoration is increasingly attracting financial resources, both from the private and the public sectors. The private sector has come to understand that bringing the land back to health is a profitable business. For the agro-business, but also for nature conservation, thanks to eco-tourism. The trends we see from the public sector for the Africa’s Great Green Wall, along with the G20 Initiative or the Middle East Initiative on Land Restoration are very encouraging. COP15 will of course also address many other inter-related issues, which you will be discussing over the next three days. These include gender, land tenure, migration, sand and dust storms. The Secretariat has prepared working documents which are accessible to Parties. I am sure my colleagues here in this room will provide you with more detailed presentations of how the Summit of Heads of States, the Ministerial sessions, the High Level Gender Caucus and many other events will be organised. Before I conclude, let me once again express my deep gratitude to the African Union and to the African Development Bank and to the African Forest Forum for their support, together with Morocco, in organising this important meeting. I do hope the meeting will help you coordinate better and consolidate your positions, ahead of the upcoming session of your Conference of the Parties. Abidjan will be hosting an African COP. This conference will be an important milestone in the life of your Convention. We are here to assist/support you achieve your ambitions.   .كلمة أخيرة لشكر المغرب مرة أخرى على جودة ضيافته وكرم ملكه وحكومته وشعبه   شكرا جزيلا

Ibrahim Thiaw: Remarks at African Group pre-COP preparatory meeting
Call for submissions: Images of women-led solutions to desertification

Ahead of UNCCD COP15, the UNCCD Secretariat seeks to collect original and exceptional photos to showcase promising practices which demonstrate women’s leadership and innovation in adapting to land degradation, desertification and drought.  Efforts to combat and address land degradation, desertification, and droughts require a more thorough understanding of human rights and gender equality considerations. Numerous studies and experiences worldwide have confirmed that gender inequalities must be addressed as part of biodiversity conservation, land restoration, adaptation and mitigation to climate change, and efforts to transition to an inclusive and regenerative green economy, especially after the pandemic. Land degradation and desertification action can thus reinforce or exacerbate inequalities—or intentionally aim to overcome and transform them, for the resilience of all people. The UNCCD emphasizes that both men and women must be active participants at all levels in programs to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought. Resolving gender inequalities is not only a matter of “righting a wrong” but also a significant opportunity to make use of women’s often under-recognized abilities, knowledge, talents, and leadership.  Photos highlighting good practices that demonstrated role of women as agents of change for sustainable land management may be made by civil society organizations (national and international), indigenous peoples’ organizations, women organizations, foundations, UN entities and other relevant actors.A supporting narrative must also be submitted, explaining the promising practice featured in the photo, and outlining the impact of the initiative/project in terms of promoting women’s empowerment and/or gender equality in the context of land degradation, desertification, and drought. Deadline for applications is 18 April. You can find the application form on the right, under "Documents."

Call for submissions: Images of women-led solutions to desertification