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2nd intersessional meeting of the CST16 Bureau: Remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw

Dear colleagues, Alarmed again by the worldwide extreme heat-wave, drought and water scarcity, the world is at a critical moment. We are at the critical important moment to move forward from the COP commitments and decisions to actions.  Among them is the decision to further scientific guidance. But the major task of this Committee on Science and Technology (CST) Bureau meeting is the renewal of Science-Policy Interface (SPI). 217 applications received – symbolizes the raising awareness of the importance of Land and drought issues and the interlinkage between land, and climate change and food, water and energy of our daily life. This is a fundamental step to ensure highly competitive and qualified, full geographically represented and gender balanced expertise to join in the UNCCD’s science policy interface and to dedicate to Land and Drought agenda. So I have three key messages related to that: First, Keep addressing key bottlenecks that require focused science if we are to help countries address DLDD, achieve LDN, and enhance drought resistance Second, Consider innovation, because innovation starts with current science I see some young scientists around the table - I hope the promising young generation could also play a role to bring more innovative views in the process of science policy interfacing. Last but not least - Do all you can to achieve gender parity in the SPI membership. It will not be easy, but is absolutely necessary. To enable synchronization with and joint efforts of all relevant processes, we need to improve cooperation with relevant scientific bodies and panels including major reports of IPCC, IPBES, ITPS, IDMP and UNEP-IRP.  I am glad to know, there are also quite some female scientists. This a good basis for you to achieve gender parity in the SPI membership, which will not be easy, but is absolutely necessary. I am glad that the CST bureau will also discuss on the CST’s intersessional workplan, including improvement of the Role of CST and SPI in translating science into policy and communication messages to general public. We all know without involvement of public, there will be no transition to sustainable development. I am looking forward you discussion and guidance on how we can maximize participation of the Science Technology Correspondents (STCs) into the work of CST and CRIC.   The STCs are working on science on ground, who are understanding more on the social economic and ecological realities, scientific demand, and challenges in the communities. Their voice need be heard, their contributions are of valuable for transition on ground. I wish you a successful meeting.

2nd intersessional meeting of the CST16 Bureau: Remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw
Graduate students visit UNCCD to discuss the sustainable future of land

At the start of the new academic year, the United Nations Regional Information Centre in Bonn together with UNCCD, hosted a group of graduate students from Côte d’Ivoire, Germany and Kenya to discuss the Convention’s work on combating drought and desertification and the role of science in supporting good land stewardship. Two dozen students who visited UN Bonn are a part of the programme launched by the German Center for Development Research (ZEF) in 2021, together with the Universities of Cologne, Abidjan and Nairobi as part of the new DAAD Global Environment and Climate Center Initiative. The African Climate and Environment Center – Future African Savannas (AFAS), research programme focuses on nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation in African savannas. Addressing the students, UNCCD Lead Scientist Dr. Barron Joseph Orr stressed the urgency of bringing degraded lands back to health at a time when humanity has already exceeded four of the nine planetary boundaries which define our “safe operating space” – climate change, biodiversity loss, land use change and geochemical cycles, according to the recently published 2nd edition of UNCCD Global Land Outlook. Integrated land use planning that helps anticipate potential land degradation, navigate trade-offs and deliver on multiple Sustainable Development Goals is at the core of the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) concept. Developed by the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI), it provides a strong scientific foundation that supports UNCCD Parties’ work in land restoration. UNCCD Knowledge Management Officer Mr. Jeroen van Dalen explained the structure of the SPI that brings together scientists from various regions, policy makers, practitioners and civil society leaders to research a specific topic such as LDN and provide informed policy recommendations for the country Parties of the convention. Some of the visiting students who come from farming communities in Africa have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of drought and land degradation on the rangelands and their inhabitants. Many questions from the students have been focused on UNCCD support for land restoration initiatives that benefit local communities. The students also wanted to know how youth can be engaged in UNCCD’s work. The UNCCD Communications Chief Ms. Xenya Scanlon highlighted the Convention’s work with Land Heroes and other young activists, as well as youth-led  civil society organizations, inviting the students to get involved in the UNCCD Youth Caucus.

Graduate students visit UNCCD to discuss the sustainable future of land
Help us grow, join the UNCCD Youth Caucus!

The Global Youth Caucus on Desertification and Land is inviting new membership applications. The UNCCD Youth Caucus is a formal mechanism for youth engagement, set up under the Convention to facilitate the active involvement of children and young people in the UNCCD activities and processes that address desertification, land degradation, drought, sustainable development and climate change. Learn more about our work and help us grow – submit your application using this link.

Help us grow, join the UNCCD Youth Caucus!
Regional dialogue addresses impacts of drought in Northern Mediterranean and Central and Eastern Europe

In recent yeas, water scarcity and drought have been seriously affecting the Northern Mediterranean and Central and Eastern Europe, with major impacts on the economy and welfare of people. To address the growing concern over the negative impacts of water scarcity, national focal points, country representatives and scientists gathered for an online Drought Dialogue on 13 July 2022. Representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia joined the dialogue to discuss the development of national drought plans and facilitate the exchange of effective approaches to drought preparedness and drought impact monitoring. Following the UNCCD COP mandate, the secretariat of the convention and the Global Mechanism are implementing a Drought Initiative, with the input from the Science-Policy Interface. The initiative aims to support UNCCD country Parties in their efforts to establish effective national drought action plans and improve the resilience of ecosystem and people to drought. To date, more than 70 countries are engaged in the process of designing national plans of action, including five countries from Central and Eastern Europe. Contributing to these efforts, the outcomes of the Drought Dialogue will support the production of a technical brief that will aim to address the gaps and needs of the region to building drought resilience with available knowledge and solutions. It will also include a number of case studies, initiatives and good practices on drought risk mitigation from a broad range of stakeholders: governmental, non-governmental, private sector, civil society and international organizations. The technical brief will follow the path laid out by the recent Global Land Outlook 2 Central and Eastern Europe thematic report “Ecosystem restoration for green recovery and a sustainable future,” which offers a comprehensive analysis of commitments under international and national initiatives promoting land and ecosystem restoration to address the impacts of drought.

Regional dialogue addresses impacts of drought in Northern Mediterranean and Central and Eastern Europe
Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought: Call for experts

The Conference of Parties at its fifteenth session (UNCCD COP 15) decided to establish an Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on effective policy and implementation measures for addressing drought under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), with a view to presenting its findings and recommendations to Parties for their consideration at the sixteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (UNCCD COP16). The IWG will consist of three-Party representatives nominated by each respective regional group based on nominations by national governments (21 members), plus two representatives from civil society organizations (as observers), two representatives from international organizations working on drought and two independent experts. The IWG invites applications from representatives of the regional and global international organizations and the independent experts from all regions to work together with the IWG members appointed by the Parties in 2022-2024. Please apply by 5 August 2022 via these links:  Independent experts: https://lnkd.in/ekvnVjXZ Representatives of international organizations: https://lnkd.in/eEnfrrbN

Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought: Call for experts