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Call for CSO panel nominations

Dear representatives of the UNCCD-accredited CSOs,   In the decision 5/COP.15, Parties requested that the Executive Secretary “facilitate the renewal of the membership of the Civil Society Organization Panel until the next Conference of the Parties, starting immediately after that fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties, in accordance with previous decisions.”   Following this request, the secretariat would like to share the attached call for nominations and the information related to the elections. Organizations wishing to nominate representatives to serve as panel members will need to submit the documents stated in section 1 paragraph d of the attached document. The deadline for the submission of candidates is 17 July 2022. Once the candidates have been reviewed and accepted, the election process will be open from 21 July to 4 August 2022. Please share this information with your networks and nominate the best candidate to represent your organization for the next two years. Only organizations accredited to the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD are eligible to nominate candidates.   Please do not hesitate to contact us in case you need any additional information. You can also contact the current CSO panel at csopanel@unccd.int. We look forward to receiving your nominations.

Call for CSO panel nominations
Commonwealth takes a bold step towards climate resilience

The Commonwealth Living Lands Charter adopted on 25 June 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda, at the conclusion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is a bold step to build the resilience of nearly 2.5 billion Commonwealth citizens, or one-third of the global population. The Commonwealth Living Lands Charter: A Commonwealth Call to Action on Living Lands (CALL) expresses the will by leaders of the 54 member states of the Commonwealth to “voluntarily dedicate a ‘Living Land’ to future generations of every country with assured prosperity, sustenance and security.” It will be backed by CALL implementation plans to be developed by all Commonwealth nations. The Charter makes the strongest commitment yet to work on the global challenges of climate change, the loss of biodiversity and land degradation in a coordinated and synergistic way. Commonwealth leaders underlined the need to build natural resilience through biodiversity conservation in the face of climate change. The Charter also represents a significant contribution towards the achievement of global voluntary commitments to restore 1 billion hectares of degraded lands by 2030, with half of these pledges made under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Already, under the Land Degradation Neutrality targets, 21 Commonwealth countries committed to restoring 110 million hectares. Speaking on behalf of UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw at the high-level launch event in Kigali, Louise Baker, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, said: “The Living Lands charter offers Commonwealth countries a roadmap for greater resilience. In the face of climate change, it offers adaption and hope. In the face of environmental degradation, it offers restored ecosystems. In the face of food insecurity, it offers more production without more costly inputs. And in the face of economic turmoil, it offers reward. For every dollar invested we are seeing rates of return of at least 7-30 dollars from restoration.” Ms Baker acknowledged the leadership roles Commonwealth members are playing in large-scale land restoration projects, such as the Great Green Wall in the Sahel and the G20 Initiative on Land and Terrestrial Ecosystems. She also stressed that finance and a multisectoral, all of government approach will be key to getting “a tough job” done of restoring degrading land, saving biological diversity and limiting the Earth’s warming. “The Global Mechanism of UNCCD has launched a partnership for project preparation to work with strategic partners like the Commonwealth and with its Climate Finance Access Hub – and climate finance advisers – to deliver a pipeline of viable and bankable projects – that deliver for land and climate at the same time. The Global Mechanism is there to help nations put land at the heart of climate action,” Ms Baker added. According to UNCCD's flagship Global Land Outlook 2 report released in April 2022, up to 40% of all ice-free land is already degraded – meaning its benefits have been lost to varying degrees, with dire consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. Business as usual will, by 2050, result in degradation of 16 million square kilometers (almost the size of South America), with 69 gigatonnes of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. Land restoration is a powerful and cost-effective tool to address the interconnected climate, biodiversity and land crises, with economic returns estimated at US$ 125-140 trillion every year - as much as 1.5 times global GDP in 2021 (US$ 93 trillion).

Commonwealth takes a bold step towards climate resilience
Statement by Ibrahim Thiaw on his designation as UNFCCC Acting Executive Secretary

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has designated me to be the Acting Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), effective 17 July 2022, and until a new Executive Secretary is appointed. I am confident that with the support of UNFCCC management and staff, the continuity will be uninterrupted during this transitional period to deliver on the ambitious agenda ahead of UNFCCC COP27. I also remain committed to ensuring that there will be no disruption in the dispensing of my functions as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and, particularly, the delivery of the mandate the UNCCD Parties have entrusted me with at COP15.  I look forward to working with the Secretary-General and UNFCCC Parties to facilitate a smooth transition to the next UNFCCC leadership and extend my thanks to the UNCCD COP15 President, the Bureau and staff for the willingness to share my time with our sister Convention.

Statement by Ibrahim Thiaw on his designation as UNFCCC Acting Executive Secretary
Desertification and Drought Day 2022: Opening remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw

Desertification and Drought Day  Madrid, Friday 17 June | 11:00   Opening remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UNCCD  Your Excellency Pedro Sanchéz, Prime Minister of Spain;  Your Excellency, Teresa Ribera, Deputy PM and Minister of Ecological Transition  Mr. Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries  H.E. Mr Alain-Richard Donwahi, President of UNCCD-COP15  Excellencies Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corps  Representatives of Civil Society Organisations,   Members of the press,   Distinguished guests,   Ladies and gentlemen,  I am delighted to welcome you to this event marking the global celebrations of the 2022 “Desertification and Drought Day.”   A day officially declared by the UN General Assembly in 1997.  A day that seeks to share innovative solutions to ensure lives and livelihoods are no longer lost to drought.    A day when each of us can participate in actions that increase our collective resilience because every action counts. There is no small action. There is only INACTION.  A day to celebrate the progress we are making and to inspire each other to act now to build the resilience of present and future generations.   We all know it:  an ever growing number of countries and people are being affected by drought globally.  Let me illustrate what I mean.  Half of the world’s population is expected to face severe water scarcity in the next 8 years.  Consequently, as many as 700 million people (about 10% of the world’s population) are at risk of being displaced during that period1  Drought is set to increase in severity and frequency. Think about this: the consequences of droughts could affect up to three-quarters of humanity by 2050. There is nowhere on earth to hide!  If we are unable -or unwilling- to avert the severe alterations we are inflicting on the Planet, let’s be prepared to confront the new reality.   Drought is a natural hazard, but we can avert the humanitarian disasters that are un-folding in our very eyes, in some parts of the world.   As we speak, the situation is dire: at least 26 million people are struggling for food in Eastern Africa following four consecutive poor rainfall seasons2.  Make no mistake: no country - poor or rich - is immune to drought. Spain, our host for this year’s observance day, painfully knows this. From the United States to Australia, from Mali to Mexico, from Madagascar to Canada.   Drought has multiple nick-names: forest fires; food and energy shortage; forced migration; civil unrest; water rationing, to name but a few.   We need to further build our resilience to droughts. With Climate change, they are likely to appear more frequently, and when they do, to hit harder.   In this sense, commitments made by countries to restore one billion hectares of degraded land are a step in the right direction.   Indeed, we need to protect and manage the land. Without healthy and productive land, livelihoods and jobs will become increasingly precarious. Younger people will be left with fewer prospects.   At the last UNCCD Conference in Abidjan, the 197 Parties decided to act on drought together. Another step in the right direction.   They agreed to establish a new intergovernmental working group on drought which is responsible for identifying concrete policy options.   There is high hope that at the next Conference of the Parties due for 2024 in Saudi Arabia, Parties would agree on meaningful policy actions to mitigate the growing impacts of drought.   Just a couple of weeks ago, the US government announced its plan to elevate drought and water security to a strategic international policy level.   This is inspiring.   Prime Minister Sanchez,   I want to thank you and the government of Spain for your great hospitality.   In particular, I want to thank you for helping us remember that yes, droughts and their effects can be devastating, but they do not have to turn into human disasters.   Preparing in advance is far cheaper than reacting and responding to impacts after droughts hit.   We should therefore set up effective early warning systems and mobilize sustainable finance to improve drought resilience.  The good news is we know what needs to be done to drought-proof our future.   But the time to act is now.   As the rallying call for this day is “Rising up from drought together,” let me conclude with an African proverb:   “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”   So, together, let’s go faster and further.   Thank you very much.    

Desertification and Drought Day 2022: Opening remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw
No Droughtland: Global leaders call for urgent action to boost drought resilience

Desertification and Drought Day marked in Spain and around the world  Three out of four people may be affected by drought by 2050 Global campaign urges action now to ensure no country becomes Droughtland Countries and communities around the world pioneer solutions to boost drought resilience Bonn/Madrid, 17 June 2022 – In the face of growing impacts of drought exacerbated by land degradation and climate change, countries and communities must take action now to build drought resilience, global leaders urged today at a high-level event to mark Desertification and Drought Day in Madrid, Spain. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: “Droughts in all regions are getting more frequent and fierce. The well-being of hundreds of millions of people is being compromised by increasing sandstorms, wildfires, crop failures, displacement and conflict. Climate change bears much responsibility, but so does how we manage our land. Taking care of our land and its biodiversity can help address the climate crisis and assist in reaching all our Sustainable Development Goals. Let us act now to drought-proof our future.” Drought resilience is the focus of this year’s global observance hosted by Spain and led by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), with commemorative events taking place around the world.  Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, said: “No nation—rich or poor—is immune to drought, and all countries can take steps to avoid the devastating impacts of droughts on people’s lives and livelihoods. Although we have made some progress, it is not enough. Drought is a natural hazard, but it does not have to be a disaster. We are calling on all countries to make this year’s global observance a pivotal moment where we commit to working together to restore our lands, protect natural resources and boost communities’ resilience to drought to ensure no country becomes Droughtland.” Teresa Ribera, Vice-President of the Government of Spain, said:  “Spain is one of the most vulnerable European countries to desertification. Almost three quarters of its territory are drylands susceptible to be affected by this phenomenon, 20% of which are already considered degraded. The fact that Spain has had to live with droughts and their consequences for decades has taught us the need to integrate drought into hydrological planning and water resource management, addressing it in advance and avoiding, as far as possible, emergency actions when severe situations have already been reached.” Droughts are hitting harder According to the latest UNCCD report, droughts are up 29% since 2000, with 55 million people affected every year. By 2050, droughts may affect an estimated three out of every four people around the world.  In the Horn of Africa, at least 26 million people are facing food shortages following four consecutive poor rainfall seasons. Elsewhere, communities from Chile to the United States, from Mexico to Morocco, from China to Spain are also in the grips of severe—and often unprecedented—drought. Patricia Kombo, Founder of PaTree Initiative and UNCCD Land Hero from Kenya, said: “Drought was declared a national disaster last October. And I have witnessed how it is affecting people in Turkana [County in Kenya] while we were providing emergency food relief there. I realized that droughts do not only affect food systems, but they fuel poverty, conflicts and migration… because in one village you could only find like 10 households and they were telling us the youthful generation had migrated…it’s a cross-cutting issue. ”  A drought in Southern Africa five years ago put 20 million people on the verge of starvation. This year Chile marked a record-breaking 13th year of drought. A prolonged drought in the United States that started in 2000 is the country’s driest period in over 1,200 years. Monterrey, the third largest city of Mexico, is rationing water due to drought.  “Desertification and drought are the primary causes of migration and inter-community conflict. It is not by chance that in most countries, years of drought are listed as years of economic downturn…. We must deal with drought, using every tool we can. Existing tools and resources may not be enough. But they can get us far, if we make a better use of the existing tools: Early Warning- Preparedness- Response…the recently held COP discussions in Abidjan have reinforced the momentum that has been building on the need to tackle, urgently, desertification, land degradation and drought,” said Alain Richard Donwahi, UNCCD COP15 President. Half of the world’s population is expected to face severe water scarcity in the next eight years. As many as 700 million people (about 10% of the world’s population) are at risk of being displaced during that period, according to UNCCD’s Drought in Numbers report. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President, Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, said: “In Chad, the desert is advancing four kilometers every year. That means, in a few decades, the capital N'Djamena will be in the desert. And we are facing extreme weather events from drought around all the Sahel region and all over Africa. The rainy seasons are not coming anymore and this worsens the drought in our communities. We need urgent action to fight desertification, to fight this drought, to invest in our communities, to restore our ecosystem in order to give us good food production.” Examples of resilience in the face of drought A recent review of  drought risk mitigation measures by UNCCD and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) showcases examples from around the world of how countries and communities can boost drought resilience through better early warning systems, greater interagency cooperation, and a mix of traditional knowledge and innovative approaches.   In Brazil, Ethiopia and Tunisia, a combination of water harvesting and sustainable land management practices are used to reduce the impact of drought among vulnerable populations. There are signs of progress even  in the most vulnerable regions. The drought risk system in Africa’s Sahel is regional in scope. Originally set up 50 years ago, it brings together the entire range of stakeholders, from producer associations to decision-makers, who benefit from scientific and technological capabilities provided by regional organizations.  India has taken an even more comprehensive approach that includes drought management as part of the national disaster management plan and involves various institutions at national, state and local levels. It is built around early action that begins with the management of the country's water system, including rainwater, rivers and groundwater.  In Central America’s Corredor Seco, the dry corridor stretching across Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, as well as areas of Costa Rica and Panama, community contingency funds are used to support drought-hit farmers without access to formal financing and insurance systems. Over 60% of the population depends on the production of staple grains for their livelihoods, and in three out of five harvest cycles, small farmers suffer significant losses. The United States has recently announced that drought will become a strategic domestic and foreign policy priority. The country has some of the most sophisticated and advanced drought-monitoring and response mechanisms, which could benefit and fast-track the development of collaborative action at the global level.  “The good news is, real solutions exist,” Thiaw said. “Countries should have access to robust and effective early warning and monitoring systems. Countries, especially in drought-prone areas, should plan for solid drought preparedness and act now! Communities, especially the most vulnerable ones, should have access to adequate insurance schemes to protect their lives and livelihoods. By restoring land back to health, we can protect our climate and water resources, boost drought resilience and sustain life on this planet,” he added. Drought resilience was a top agenda item at the 15th Session of the UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP15) held in Côte d’Ivoire in May. Countries agreed to establish an Intergovernmental Working Group for 2022-2024 to evaluate all options for the Convention to support a shift from reactive to proactive drought management. The Group’s findings and recommendations will be presented at the UNCCD COP16 to be held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2024. Highlights of activities in Spain and around the world In Spain, the host of this year’s global observance, a high-level event at the Reina Sofia Museum brought together renown scientists, issue experts, youth representatives and high-level policymakers from Spain and around the world to discuss:  the role of science based on the drought risks identified for different climate change scenarios  success stories of drought mitigation and adaptation in Spain and other countries. viable drought policies and their components  As part of the global Droughtland campaign, an information booth was set up in the centre of Madrid to raise public awareness on the impacts of drought. In addition, an event at Casa Arabe organized by Fundación Biodiversidad in cooperation with Basque Culinary Centre brought together top chefs and experts to discuss the challenges of food production in drought-prone areas. Other countries around the world are marking this year’s Day to bring public attention to the threats from and solutions to drought.   They include Chad, Kenya, Mali and Tunisia from Africa. China, Iran, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan from Asia. Colombia and Mexico in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. Italy, Portugal and Spain in the Northern Mediterranean region. The Russian Federation in Central and Eastern Europe.  But anyone can take action. NGOs CARI and Coordination Sud in France and Shine Africa Foundation in Uganda are among those organizing events this year. Notes to editors Journalists wishing to cover the event in Madrid, Spain need to be registered, and should email: bzn-prensa@miteco.es and copy wwischnewski@unccd.int. A copy of your valid press card and passport will be required to pick your access card. Download various materials here (https://bit.ly/3xd4IjC), including: b-roll and images on the drought in Eastern Africa (https://bit.ly/3Pw6ULm). Credit UNCCD video messages and testimonials from around the world (https://bit.ly/3zJVFcY)   Videos and assets from the Droughtland campaign (https://bit.ly/3zvCfsb) Credit UNCCD Images of the event in Spain will be uploaded here (https://bit.ly/3xBtCuI). For information about Desertification and Drought Day events in Spain and around the world, contact Xenya Scanlon, Chief of Communications, UNCCD: xscanlon@unccd.int  For media related inquiries: On site contact: Alejandro Gomez, argomez@miteco.es  Virtually: Wagaki Wischnewski, wwischnewski@unccd.int, +49 173 268 7593 (m) About Desertification and Drought Day Officially declared by the UN General Assembly in 1997 (Resolution A/RES/49/115), the annual Desertification and Drought Day has three objectives. First, to promote public awareness about desertification and drought. Second, to let people know that desertification and drought can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and cooperation at all levels. Lastly, to strengthen implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.  For information about Desertification and Drought Day visit: https://www.unccd.int/2022-desertification-and-drought-day About Droughtland Do you know where Droughtland is? Are you interested in a visa to live there? Think twice because Droughtland is... special. In the lead up to the 2022 Desertification and Drought Day, UNCCD launched Droughtland, a public awareness campaign featuring a fictional drought-stricken nation, to showcase solutions and rally global action to boost drought resilience. Learn more about the campaign: droughtland.com Social Media: @TourDroughtland  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. Quotes Below is a selection of video messages and quotes for media use: https://bit.ly/3zJVFcY Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly “…we must recognize that our actions, our ways of living have dire consequences. In just over a century, droughts have impacted at least 2.7 billion people globally and caused 11.7 million deaths. Forecasts estimate that by 2050, droughts may affect over ¾ of the world’s population. All of this while we continue to devastate the very land we depend upon… Together, we can turn this trend around. Together, we can restore the productivity of over 2 billion hectares of degraded land and improve the livelihoods of over 1.3 billion people around the world… Let us take the commitments made during UNCCD COP15 and renew our commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality by 2030.” Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “We must realize that we are pushing the boundaries of this planet. Drought is but one consequence of this constant and unrelenting pressure. We have statistics to show that droughts are increasing in frequency and severity. But numbers cannot measure the misery of thirst, the fear of a failed crop or waiting for rain clouds to appear on the horizon — but waiting in vain. We need unified, concerted and ambitious action. Namely, we need nations to come up with stronger national climate action plans and ensure they are tabled annually.” Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity “The links between drought and human activities are strong and go both ways, each having an impact on the other. The desiccation of the Aral Sea is a tragic example where unsustainable water consumption has led to irreversible loss of the inland water ecosystem and its biodiversity, increased drought and dust storms. Protecting biodiversity can drought-proof nature and societies. Nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches are cost-effective, long-lasting and bring multiple benefits for people and nature.” Dongyu Qu, Director General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations “The impact of droughts has seriously affected all agrifood systems.  Yet, agrifood systems can provide a solution to climate change, land degradation and water scarcity.  We must transform our agrifood system to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient, and more sustainable. FAO is actively supporting Members to address water scarcity at the national, regional, and international level.” Monica Medina, Assistant Secretary of State, United States of America “Individuals, communities and governments must act to combat desertification and drought around the world and build long-term resilience… We also need to shift planning horizons. These issues will be with us for the long run and we need to get ahead of the curve. We must all think long-term and find innovative ways to reduce drought instead of just responding to the devastating impacts caused by drought. We need to act before damage is done. That’s why we encourage governments around the world to develop their own land planning processes and provide funding for climate-smart agricultural policies before drought hits. Using data to improve drought forecasting is a key pillar of our approach under the recently released White House action plan on global water security.”  Juan Carlos Jintiach, Indigenous leader from Ecuador “Drought and desertification are very important issues that we Indigenous Peoples must have on our agenda. They are affecting the forests, our food, our living conditions—not only in the Amazon region but in the Andean region that connects the rivers and the water sources. We are Indigenous Peoples of the land, and we see water as part of a being, water as part of our nature and part of Mother Earth.”

No Droughtland: Global leaders call for urgent action to boost drought resilience