The 2014 World Day to Combat Desertification global observance event focused on the theme of ecosystem-based adaptation, with a rallying call “Land Belongs to the Future – Let's Climate Proof It.” On the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the UNCCD, speakers at the global observance event considered the requirements for ecosystem-based adaptation to address issues related to desertification, land degradation and drought as well as shared successful cases of combating desertification in drylands.
17 June 2014: The 2014 World Day to Combat Desertification global observance event focused on the theme of ecosystem-based adaptation, with a rallying call “Land Belongs to the Future – Let’s Climate Proof It.”
Approximately 400 representatives from government, intergovernmental and civil society organizations (CSOs) registered for the event, which took place on Tuesday, 17 June 2014, at World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC, US. The event was also webcast, and speakers responded to questions from a global audience. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) organized the event, which was hosted by the World Bank in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), TerrAfrica and Connect4Climate.
On the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the UNCCD, speakers at the global observance event considered the requirements for ecosystem-based adaptation to address issues related to desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) and shared successful cases of combating desertification in drylands. Keynote speakers discussed national efforts, and panelists presented research and lessons learned to address land degradation and foster adaptation and resilience. Two short films were screened, demonstrating additional projects and lessons learned. The Land for Life award winners were also announced.
In her opening remarks, Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary, UNCCD, said there are simple and affordable techniques that can stop land degradation, such as agroforestry, and success requires smart investment and a rethinking of existing financing strategies. Barbut suggested that food, water, income and security threats could be eased if common measures of success are established at the global level, sensible investments are made in sustainable land use practices, and safety nets are created. She noted that the next 18 months will bring decisions regarding the post-2015 development agenda and the future of climate action and hoped that the path chosen would lead towards land-based resilience.
Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive Officer, GEF, noted that most of the techniques being used are not new but their application by large numbers of smallholders can create impacts at scale. She expressed hope that the experience with the Great Green Wall initiative, a pan-African project to address poverty and land degradation in the Sahara and Sahel, will be built upon in other continents and said a pilot for food security would be implemented in Africa in the next investment cycle.
Prime Minister of Niger Brigi Rafini said there should be a focus on the sustainable management of ecosystems and highlighted that the accomplishments of the Great Green Wall initiative include the restoration of degraded land and reforestation, among others.
Uahekua Herunga, Minister of Environment and Tourism of Namibia and President of the UNCCD’s 11th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11), called for seizing the momentum of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) to promote a land degradation neutral world and recognize the role of the UNCCD in leading such efforts. He emphasized that monitoring of land degradation will become increasingly important through the UNCCD and post-2015 development agenda processes, stressed the importance of developing national drought management policies and looked forward to a strengthened UNCCD in the coming years. [IISDRS coverage of World Day to Combat Desertification global observance event] [UNCCD Press Release]