Wildlife & Biodiversity

How to fight deseritification: Here’s what the 15th COP to UNCCD agreed on

UNCCD COP15 adopts 38 decisions, including on tenure, migration and gender, that highlight the role of land in addressing multiple crises  

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Saturday 21 May 2022
Photo: Getty Images

The 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), concluded May 20, 2022 in Abidjan with a global pledge to boost drought resilience and invest in land restoration for future prosperity.

The UNCCD COP15 adopted 38 decisions, including on tenure, migration and gender, that highlight the role of land in addressing multiple crises.

The global leaders representing UN member state agreed to establish 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. 

“Meeting against the backdrop of multiple global challenges, including the worst-in-40-years drought in Eastern Africa, as well as food and economic crises fuelled by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts, countries have sent a united call about the importance of healthy and productive land for securing future prosperity for all.” Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, said in a statement.

According to the most recent UN estimates, up to 40 per cent of our planet’s land is degraded. This will directly affect half of humanity and is a threat to about 50 percent of global GDP or  around $44 trillion.

But the world has is slow on restoration of one billion hectares of degraded land by 2030. So, the UN  members also agreed and committed to accelerate the restoration of one billion hectares of degraded land by 2030.

The UN member states will focus on improving data gathering and monitoring to track progress against the achievement of land restoration commitments.

They committed to establishing a new partnership model for large-scale integrated landscape investment programmes, according to the UN statement released, May 20, 2022.

The “Drought in Numbers, 2022” released, May 12, 2022 at the  COP15 had called upon the world to prioritise drought preparedness and resilience.

In this context, another important global consensus emerged on boosting  drought resilience by identifying the expansion of drylands, improving national policies and early warning. For this, mobilising drought finance will be critical.

The leaders came on board and also committed to prioritise and ensure women’s involvement in land management for effective land restoration.

Other significant outcomes of the COP 15  included three key declarations: Abidjan Call issued by the Heads of State and Government to boost long-term environmental sustainability, Abidjan Declaration on achieving gender equality for successful land restoration and the COP15 “Land, Life and Legacy” Declaration, which responds to the findings of the UNCCD’s flagship report, Global Land Outlook 2.

UNCCD’s COP15 is the first Conference of the Parties of the three Rio Conventions taking place in 2022, ahead of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP27 and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP15.

There is a need to ensure greater synergies among the three Rio Conventions, including complementarities in the implementation of these treaties through nature-based solutions and target-setting at the national level, said the leaders representing the UN member states.

When barely 18 per cent of the Great Green Wall's objectives for 2030 have been achieved, with just 18 million hectares restored out of a goal of 100 million according to Green wall accelerator programme, regional initiatives too were launched in support of the Africa-led Great Green Wall at COP 15.

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