$6.4 billion spent to combat desertification in last 2 years: Report

The cost of combating land degradation and desertification has been estimated at $450 billion annually

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Wednesday 04 September 2019
A view of the degraded land in Darfur, Africa. Photo: FAO

To combat desertification, around $6.4 billion has been spent by member countries of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’s (UNCCD) between July 2017 and June 2019, according to a report by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) on the financing of programmes and projects concerning desertification, land degradation and drought.

In the last two years, $0.86 billion was spent via GEF funds and $5.67 billion through co-financing, amounting to $6.4 billion, according to the report. 

“These resources were utilised by countries through 20 stand-alone LDFA projects using $48.92 million and 55 multi-focal area (MFA) projects and programmes using $808.84 million of GEF resources,” said the GEF report.  

“A total of 75 projects and programmes were approved with funding from the Land Degradation Focal Area (LDFA) and other related funding windows of the GEF trust fund during the reporting period (July 2017 to June 2019),” it added. 

However, this amount was inadequate to meet the scale of the challenge of combating desertification, claimed representatives of developing nations at the meeting. 

Around two billion hectares of productive land have already degraded worldwide, and every year around 12 million hectares are lost to desertification, according to the UNCCD. The cost of combating land degradation and desertification has been estimated at $450 billion annually. 

The report was released at a meeting of the Committee Review of Implementation of the Convention at the UNCCD's 14th session of the Conference of Parties (CoP14) on September 4, 2019.

The GEF was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems.

“Although it is difficult to say exactly how much financial assistance is needed to undertake the mandate of the convention, there is definitively a gap between the finance needed and the finance available,” a representative from Nigeria told Down to Earth, on condition of anonymity. 

The representatives also pointed out that the procedures to access funds are too complex and need to be simplified. 

The other financial mechanism that supports the UNCCD in achieving its Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) target is the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund (LDNF).

The LDNF was approved in 2015, during UNCCD’s CoP 12 at Ankara, Turkey, with a target of raising $300 million. However, only $100 million has been raised so far. 

Yet, according to the representatives from the developed counties like the United States and Switzerland, more emphasis is been laid on LDNF with a focus on LDN. This is at the expense of other mandates of the convention like drought and desertification prevention, they commented.  

The UNCCD's CoP 14, which commenced on September 1, will be on till September 13.

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