UNCCD COP 12 Discusses SDG Target on Land Degradation Neutrality, DLDD Links with Climate Change
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The 12th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 12) adopted 35 decisions following deliberations on agenda items related to desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), including how to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals' (SDG) target to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) and how to align the UNCCD's goals and Parties' action programmes with the Goals.

Parties also considered messages for the Paris Climate Change Conference, which will take place from 30 November-11 December 2015.

cop12unccd23 October 2015: The 12th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 12) adopted 35 decisions following deliberations on agenda items related to desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), including how to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDG) target to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) and how to align the UNCCD’s goals and Parties’ action programmes with the Goals. Parties also considered messages for the Paris Climate Change Conference, which will take place from 30 November-11 December 2015.

UNCCD COP 12, which gathered approximately 6,000 participants, convened in Ankara, Turkey, from 12-23 October 2015.

From 20-21 October, a high-level segment took place. Following an opening address by the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, ministerial roundtables addressed themes of ‘Translating Land Degradation Neutrality into Action,’ ‘Mainstreaming Drought Management Policy in National Agendas and Mitigating the Effects of Drought,’ and ‘Climate Change Resilience through Sustainable Land Management.’ The high-level segment also included dialogues with civil society organizations (CSOs), representatives of the private sector and parliamentarians.

The UNCCD’s two subsidiary bodies, the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) and the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC), convened in parallel to the COP. The CST developed six decisions for COP consideration, regarding, inter alia: the outcomes of the UNCCD’s Third Scientific Conference, improving the efficiency of the CST, improving knowledge dissemination, and the work programme of the Science-Policy Interface (SPI), which had been established at COP 11 as the mechanism to bring scientific advice to the Parties. The CRIC developed eight decisions for COP consideration, regarding, inter alia: collaboration with the Global Environment Facility (GEF); establishment of national-level voluntary LDN targets within National Action Programmes (NAPs) and national reports, including funding to support national target-setting towards achieving LDN; actions to achieve the Ten-Year Strategic Plan and framework to enhance the implementation of the Convention (2008-2018) (the Strategy); procedures for communication of information to be submitted to the COP, including on progress indicators for trends in land cover, land productivity and carbon stocks; and a results framework with which the CST, CRIC, Global Mechanism (GM) and Secretariat will organize their work for the period 2016-2019.

UNCCD COP 12 decided that striving to achieve SDG target 15.3 “is a strong vehicle for driving implementation of the UNCCD.”

In addition to adopting the CST and CRIC decisions, the COP deliberated on and adopted key decisions on progress indicators, the scope of the Convention and the definition of and Parties’ efforts to achieve LDN, among others. Through these decisions, the COP: proposed the use of progress indicators for trends in land cover, land productivity and carbon stocks for reporting under the Rio Conventions (UNCCD, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); noted that a significant proportion of land degradation occurs beyond arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas and recognized that Parties may use the UNCCD to guide their policies relating to DLDD; and decided that striving to achieve SDG target 15.3 “is a strong vehicle for driving implementation of the UNCCD.” Parties endorsed the definition of LDN as a “state whereby the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security remain stable or increase within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.” The COP requested the Managing Director of the General Mechanism (GM), in consultation with the Executive Secretary, to develop options to increase incentives and financial support for DLDD activities, including the possible creation of an independent LDN fund.

Delegates also agreed to convene a special intersessional meeting of the CRIC (the “methodological CRIC”) to provide further guidance on the reporting and review structure prior to COP 13.

During the meeting, GEF and the host country, through its Ankara Initiative, announced that funding will be available for the establishment of voluntary national LDN targets.

According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) on COP 12, participants left the Congresium Ankara International Convention & Exhibition Centre at midnight on Friday, 23 October, exhausted but cautiously optimistic for the path that COP 12 had set for the Convention. Delegates agreed that Parties would strive to achieve a single, unified objective and, in the process, would play an important role in the follow-up on the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Decisions reached at COP 12, such as the recognition and further elaboration of the efforts of the SPI, were pointed to as positive, substantive developments for a Convention that has long been mired in the examination of its internal organization. Participants anticipate a busy biennium, as all actors will strive to collectively deliver on SDG target 15.3 and seek to bring tangible results to the drylands as well as to degraded land around the world. [IISD RS Meeting Coverage] [UNCCD COP 12 Webpage] [UNCCD Press Release]


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