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Media Advisory: Rising up together from drought

MEDIA ADVISORY Rising up from drought together is Spain’s call for Desertification and Drought Day on 17 June Bonn/Madrid, 13 June 2022 - Spain, one of the European countries most vulnerable to drought and water shortages linked to climate change, is hosting this year’s global observance of Desertification and Drought Day on 17 June. The event titled, “Rising up from drought together,” will take place at the Auditorio Museo Nacional Reina Sofia in Madrid. Drought is the theme for the Day this year. Media are invited to participate at the event organized by the Government of Spain and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), where renown scientists, issue experts, youth representatives and high-level policymakers from Spain and around the world will speak about: 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 Pedro Sánchez, President of the Government of Spain, Alain-Richard Donwahi, President of UNCCD COP15, Côte d'Ivoire, Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and Patricia Kombo, UNCCD Land Hero from Kenya are among the notable speakers (see full list below). Droughts are increasing in frequency and severity up 29 percent since 2000 and affecting an estimated 55 million people every year, according to the latest Drought in Numbers report from UNCCD. By 2050, drylands may cover between 50 to 60 percent of all land, with an estimated three-quarters of the world’s population living in these areas under conditions of severe water scarcity. The Horn of Africa, for example, is in its fourth year of drought. A similar 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 1200 years. 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. Detailed information, which includes the programme, media resources and background documents to facilitate coverage of the event, is provided below. Venue Auditorio Museo Nacional Reina Sofia, Rondo de Atocha, Madrid, Spain. Webcast Link: https://bit.ly/3Nw1Wgt (in the floor language) Streaming through Twitter and Facebook: @unccd Time Friday, 17 June 2022 11:00-14:00 hrs (CEST) /09:00-12:00 (GMT/UTC) Invited speakers Mr. Pedro Sánchez, President of the Government of Spain (Prime Minister)   Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Alain-Richard Donwahi, President of UNCCD COP15, Côte d'Ivoire   Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)  Mr Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Ms. Teresa Ribera, Third Vice-President of the government and Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Spain Ms. Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Ms. Skumsa Ntshanga, Ag. Deputy Director-General, Biodiversity and Conservation Branch, Ministry of Forests, Fisheries and Environment, South Africa Ms. Patricia Kombo, founder of the PaTree Initiative and UNCCD Land Hero Ms. María Jesús Rodríguez de Sancho, General Director of Biodiversity, Forestry and Desertification, Spain Mr. Pilar Paneque, leader of the Spanish Citizen Observatory of Drought and Professor of Human Geography, Pablo de Olavide University of Seville, Spain Ms. Attia Rafla, Director for Soil Resources. Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries of Tunisia.   Ms. Elena López Gunn, Chief Executive Officer, ICATALIST. Associate professor at IE Business School and collaborator of the Water Observatory, the Botín Foundation and the Basque Center for Climate Change, Spain   Mr. Mark Svoboda, Director of the National Center for Drought Monitoring in the United States Background Drought in Numbers, released on 11 May at the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP15) calls for making a full global commitment to drought preparedness and resilience in all global regions a top priority. The report was issued just days before The State of the Global Climate 2021 report released May 2022 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). According to the report, the past seven years have been the warmest seven years on record, and drought affected many parts of the world, including the Horn of Africa, Canada, the western United States, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Türkiye. Drought resilience was a top agenda item at UNCCD COP15. Countries agreed to boost drought resilience, and identified some of the key actions. They will identify the areas that could turn into drylands, improve national policies, including on early warning, monitoring and assessment, learn and share knowledge, build partnerships and coordinate action, and mobilize drought finance. In addition, they will set up an Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought for 2022-2024 to look into possible options, including global policy instruments and regional policy frameworks, to support a shift from reactive to proactive drought management. The Working Group reports released earlier this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as part of the Sixth Assessment Report warn that we have up to 2030 to take actions to get us on track to staying within a temperature rise of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Warming above that level would have catastrophic impacts on both people and the planet. Notes to Editors International journalists travelling to Spain to cover the event need 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): b-roll on the drought in Eastern Africa (https://bit.ly/3Pw6ULm). Credit UNCCD. human interest stories gathered in March 2022 in Turkana County, Kenya (https://bit.ly/3m7NoaG). Credit UNCCD. Images of drought impacts in Northern Kenya (https://bit.ly/39aWW1w). Credit UNCCD. 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). Social Media Twitter: @TourDroughtland Instagram: @TourDroughtland Hashtags: #Nodroughtland   #UNited4Land Download social media assets, including banners, infographics, cartoons and postcards: https://bit.ly/3PZBzAX Learn more about the campaign: droughtland.com  For information about Desertification and Drought Day visit: https://www.unccd.int/2022-desertification-and-drought-day 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 inquires: On site contact: Alejandro Gomez, argomez@miteco.es Virtually: Wagaki Wischnewski, wwischnewski@unccd.int, +49 173 268 7593 (m) 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.

Media Advisory: Rising up together from drought
Greening up against drought in Turkana

Turkana in northern Kenya is one of the driest regions of the East African nation. This 77,000 square kilometre county receives an average of just 200mm of rain annually, compared to a national average of 680mm. And with three consecutive rain seasons failing since 2020, many residents are now faced with food scarcity, one of the painful effects of an ongoing  drought.  According to Peter Eripete, Turkana County’s Head of Public Service, the effects of drought are hardest felt by the residents who are mainly pastoralists. Their reliance on livestock means that when their livestock die, their income levels fall drastically, affecting entire families’ food security.   In Kangirenga Village in Katilu, an administrative Ward in southern Turkana, we found Lokutan Amaler preparing her only meal for the day - boiled maize. Food has been hard to come by for Lokutan and her family. “I had nothing to eat. All my food storage containers are empty. If I had not received this maize from a well wisher, I would not have had anything to eat today” Lokutan explained as she stirred the boiling maize in a cooking pot over a three-stone fire.   Traditionally, the Turkana people have always been dependent on their livestock for sustenance. Whenever they need to buy foodstuffs or household supplies, they sell a goat or cow at the market and with the money received, make the necessary purchases. But with the shortage of rains leading to a lack of pasture, many cows, goats and even camels have died, leading to a loss of income for many across this vast county. To get out of the recurring cycle of lack of food whenever drought visits, a few people have now diversified their sources of sustenance.  Lokutan has planted green grams a short walk from her home. Her garden is part of  a 10-acre agriculture project initiated by Panafricaire. Eunice Eseison, who coordinates the farming project for Panafricaire says “Convincing the residents to take up farming was an uphill task. Though a few saw the sense it made, it took us very long to convince many that farming was something they could do profitably because it went against their culture”.   But with time, those who enrolled in the project including Lokutan have seen the benefits after finding an alternative source of food at every harvest, and income when the excess is sold in the local market.  While the work done by organizations like PanAfricaire to mitigate the effects of drought are commendable, food security still remains a concern in Turkana. Greater investments are needed to have more land under cultivation with improved farming practices that will increase productivity from the land. This will allow greater year-round harvests for Lokutan and other farmers, ensuring that they are always cushioned from the harmful effects of the drought. 

Greening up against drought in Turkana
Women-led solutions to desertification highlighted at UNCCD COP15 photo expo

To highlight the crucial role of women as agents of change for sustainable land management during recent UNCCD COP15, the UNCCD Secretariat collected 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 have been submitted by civil society organizations (national and international), indigenous peoples’ organizations, women organizations, foundations, UN entities and other relevant actors. The accompanying stories outline the promising practice featured in the photo, and present the impact of the initiative or project for promoting women’s empowerment and  gender equality in the context of land degradation, desertification, and drought. You can find the highlights of the exhibition under "documents" menu on the right. Photo: (c) www.migdev.org

Women-led solutions to desertification highlighted at UNCCD COP15 photo expo
UNCCD COP15 closing remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw

Excellence M. le Premier Ministre, Excellences, Distingués délégués, Chers collègues, Mesdames et Messieurs, Dans mon discours d’ouverture le 9 Mai, je disais que « la Côte d’Ivoire dispose de ce magnétisme extraordinaire, cette hospitalité exceptionnelle qui explique pourquoi ce pays attire autant de talents et de touristes ». Aujourd’hui, après plusieurs jours passés ici avec des milliers de délégués venus des quatre coins du monde, je suis en mesure de rapporter certains propos répétés des centaines de fois par des anonymes louant la générosité et l’accueil du peuple ivoirien. En tant que Secrétaire exécutif, je ne peux qu’exprimer mon entière satisfaction pour la tenue réussie de cette COP. Je suis fier de ce que je vois, de ce que j’entends, de ce que j’entrevois pour l’avenir de ce pays. Il va sans dire que le chemin a été parsemé d’embûches. Que d’obstacles franchis, que d’efforts déployés pour mettre tout le monde dans de bonnes conditions de travail et de sécurité. Y compris de sécurité sanitaire en pleine pandémie de COVID. Que de patience pour satisfaire aux multiples demandes du Secrétariat de UNCCD, aux exigences de nos partenaires et aux sollicitations de nos Parties. Que de patience pour écouter, comprendre, répondre et satisfaire à des exigences parfois contradictoires. Que n’a-t-il pas fallu faire pour tenir une COP de près de 7000 participants à Abidjan? Construire les salles temporaires, les viabiliser. Amadouer les équipements, dompter les infrastructures temporaires pour qu’elles ne cèdent pas sous la menace des orages tropicaux en pleine saison des pluies! Que dire des vendeuses de Treichville, de Marcory ou de Cocody, si gentilles et si accueillantes ? Qui leur a demandé de se paver de si belles couleurs dont l’Afrique est si fière ? Dear delegates, observers and staff, We made it! to the end of these two weeks and very intense journey – for many of you, a journey that started well before the 9th of May. I would like to thank President Ouattara for holding the High-level Summit, which brought a dozen Heads of State and Government to attend our COP. This was incredible. It shows the growing awareness and the dedication that Heads of State are giving to restoring degraded land. I would also like to thank the people of Abidjan for their incredible hospitality. For the smiles that we were met with each and every day. For the amazing music and beats that marked our tempo. For receiving us and making us feel at home. Since I have the floor, I would like to thank all those that made this COP possible: All colleagues from UN agencies: from UN security to UN conference services, the interpreters, technicians. My sincere appreciation to cleaners, food providers, and to our volunteers who spent this hectic time offering their services and knowledge.   A special thank you goes of course to the National Organizing Committee and its 11 national working groups. And to our COP15 President, Mr. Alain Richard Donwahi, for the incredible leadership, which you have already demonstrated. Perhaps the most amazing of all, is the dedication, patience and professionalism of the UNCCD Staff. We actually have less than 70 staff of UNCCD worldwide, for the Secretariat and the Global Mechanism combined. Inclusive of all sources of funding. They are the engine behind this COP.  Danke! Excellency Prime Minister, Dear Delegates, At this COP: You ran a Summit of Heads of States and Government Had a High-Level Gender Caucus 5 Ministerial meetings (Dialogues and round tables) You received, at least six weeks before the COP, all documents prepared by your Secretariat; 38 decisions are being submitted to this Plenary for its consideration; 127 side events brought together thousands of participants to share knowledge; Landmark reports were produced, including the Global Land Outlook, the Gender Report, a report on Drought, to name but a few; The Abidjan Legacy Programme which we were honored to contribute to its inception and look forward to continue supporting; In terms of media coverage, our monitoring system picked up over 4,000 articles from 80 countries in over 40 languages; An unprecedented number of interactions happened on social media. A staggering number of close to 170 million people were reached. I am informed that our issues were trending on the global tweetosphere for several hours during the High Level segment. This would not have been possible without your support, the generous financial support of our Parties, donors and supporters. I am aware of the challenges many of you faced. Although we tried to anticipate and address as many issues as possible, we were still confronted with some hiccups along the road. I can assure you that your Secretariat is determined to continue to drawing lessons learned from these experiences and build on them to improve all of our experiences for the upcoming COPs. So, COP 15 has been a great achievement, but it’s also a grave reminder that “much effort, much prosperity” must remain our mantra. Thank you!

UNCCD COP15 closing remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw
Latest climate report underscores urgent need to act on drought

The State of the Global Climate in 2021 report released on 18 May 2022 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirms that the past seven years have been the warmest seven years on record. According to the Report, drought affected many parts of the world, including the Horn of Africa, Canada, the western United States, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey. Eastern Africa is facing the very real prospect that the rains will fail for a fourth consecutive season, placing Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in a drought of a length not experienced in the last 40 years. It states further that humanitarian agencies are warning of devastating impacts on people and livelihoods in the region. In South America, drought caused big agricultural losses and disrupted energy production and river transport. Drought resilience is at the top of the agenda of the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) underway in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. “The catastrophic effects of multi-year droughts witnessed in every region of the world in the last decade demand action now. Unless we work together to prepare, respond and build resilience to drought, the impacts on our food, water and energy at a time when the global population is growing would create unimaginable social and environmental upheavals,” says Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary. The WMO report shows that we may be closer to over-shooting the desired temperature rise unless drastic measures are taken. It further states that the average global temperature in 2021 was about 1.11 (± 0.13) °C above the pre-industrial level. It calls for countries to scale up the adoption and diffusion of renewable energy massively. The report comes on the heels of stark warnings issued in two reports released earlier this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that we had up to 2030 to take actions to get us on track to staying within a temperature rise of no more than 1.5 degrees. The second edition of the Global Land Outlook released less than a month ago by UNCCD identified some of the human impacts on people and the land they depend on under a business-as-usual scenario. An area almost the size of South America would be degraded by 2050. About 12-14 per cent of natural areas, farmland, pastures and grazing land would under persistent, long-term declines in productivity. And an additional 69 gigatonnes of carbon would be emitted into the atmosphere through land use change and soil degradation. What’s more, droughts would increase in frequency, intensity and spread. The Drought in Numbers 2022 report released last week by UNCCD, revealed that the number and duration of droughts has increased by 29 per cent since 2000 and that unless urgent action is taken, droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population by 2050. UNCCD COP15, which concludes this Friday, 20 May, is expected to adopt decisions to accelerate global action to restore one billion hectares of degrading land, build robust measures for early action on drought, and to strengthen governance at all levels to facilitate the flow of technology and investment where needed.

Latest climate report underscores urgent need to act on drought