UNCCD COP Stresses Contributions of Land Restoration to Addressing Climate, Biodiversity Challenges
UN Photo/JC McIlwaine
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Among the decisions adopted by COP 14 were agreements to implement thematic policy frameworks addressing drought, gender, sand and dust storms, and desertification, land degradation, and drought (DLDD) as a driver of migration.

The COP also agreed to include land tenure as a new thematic area under the Convention.

The CST adopted decisions on guidance for developing a global indicator on drought, interfacing science and policy, and sharing knowledge.

The CRIC adopted a decision on enhancing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through strengthened capacity building.

13 September 2019: At the close of the fourteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 14), UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw emphasized the role of land restoration in tackling many other development goals. He highlighted that land restoration is the cheapest solution to climate change and biodiversity loss, and that drought preparedness and response are critical in the face of climate change. He emphasized that land restoration makes business sense if regulations and incentives to reward investment are in place, and that overall, people must be put first to ensure gender balance, engage youth, and secure land rights.

UNCCD COP 14 convened in New Delhi, India, from 2-13 September 2019, and brought together over 8,000 participants, including more than 100 ministers and high-level officials. During a series of roundtables and interactive dialogues, high-level participants engaged in discussions on how land issues relate to climate and renewable energy, rural and urban communities, ecosystem restoration, health, and values-based approaches. The high-level segment also included dialogues with representatives of civil society organizations, youth and the private sector.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin reports that COP 14 closed with the adoption of over 30 decisions on, among other topics, how to implement thematic policy frameworks addressing drought, gender, sand and dust storms, and desertification, land degradation, and drought (DLDD) as a driver of migration. The COP also agreed to include land tenure as a new thematic area under the Convention. Delegates also agreed, subject to the availability of resources, to establish an intergovernmental working group to explore effective policy and implementation measures for addressing drought under the UNCCD.

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. Building on a series of landmark global assessments published in the lead up to COP 14 – including the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment and its Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land – the CST adopted decisions on guidance for developing a global indicator on drought, interfacing science and policy, and sharing knowledge, among other topics. The CRIC adopted a decision on enhancing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through strengthened capacity building, among other topics.

Other initiatives launched at COP 14 included:

  • a road map for scaling up the Africa-led Great Green Wall Initiative to restore 100 million hectares of land and create 10 million green jobs by 2030;
  • the new UNCCD interactive Drought Toolbox that aims to strengthen countries’ preparedness and resilience; and
  • an international coalition for action on sand and dust storms (SDS) aimed at mitigating their transboundary impacts on human health, the environment, and key economic sectors; and
  • the ‘Delhi Declaration from Business,’ which emphasizes businesses’ critical role in achieving a land-degradation neutral world and highlights six priorities for action.

COP 14 took place just ahead of the Climate Action Summit and the SDG Summit, and delegates also sought to craft clear messages about the contribution of nature-based solutions to diverse global goals and targets. On the margins of the conference, a high-level luncheon on land and climate co-hosted by COP 14 President Prakash Javadekar and UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed issued a communiqué underscoring that land resources are the basis for human health, livelihoods, food security, and economic, cultural and spiritual wellbeing.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin notes that COP 14 highlighted that there is a growing alignment of the land, climate, and biodiversity agendas, and that, with its sharpened focus on land restoration, the UNCCD can offer cost-effective and sustainable solutions to some of the most entrenched global challenges today. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary of COP 14]


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