UNCCD logoFebruary 2016: The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) released revised reporting templates with which countries can report on progress during the 2014-2015 reporting period. The template revision follows a decision of the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the UNCCD, which met in October 2015. The decision called for new guidance on aligning the reporting framework with new progress indicators as well as the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDG) target on land degradation neutrality (LDN), which was adopted in September 2015.

In February 2016, the UNCCD requested countries to submit optional country reports, based on the new reporting templates, by the end of August 2016, to enable the Secretariat to compile a report in time for the 15th session of the UNCCD’s Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 15), tentatively scheduled for October 2016. This special “methodological” session of the CRIC will address outstanding reporting issues, to enable countries to prepare for the next reporting exercise in 2017. The 2017 reporting process is expected to incorporate new progress indicators adopted at COP 12, as well as voluntary national LDN targets.

The UNCCD has adopted three land-based progress indicators, which monitor trends in land cover, land productivity or functioning of the land, and carbon stocks above and below ground. These indicators also seek to provide a basis for enhancing synergies between the UNCCD National Action Programmes (NAPs) and national reporting under the other two Rio Conventions: the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In related UNCCD news, the Secretariat reported that, as of October 2015, 107 countries (64% of affected country Parties) were on track to complete the revision of their NAPs in line with the 10-Year Strategy (2008-2018).

SDG target 15.3 calls to, “By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world.”

To build broader awareness of opportunities to link the Convention’s implementation to the SDGs agenda, the UNCCD has announced that the theme of this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) on 17 June will be ‘Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People.’ Noting that, for years, land has been the “overlooked component in sustainable development,” the announcement states that WDCD 2016 will advocate for inclusive cooperation to restore and rehabilitate degraded land, “as a vital link to provide solutions to cope with many other development challenges such as climate change, secure water and energy resources.”

One country’s experience in synergistic implementation of the three Rio Conventions is highlighted in a 13-minute video produced by Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, which explores the role that sustainable land management plays in enhancing integrated efforts to realize the interrelated goals of biodiversity conservation, enhanced resilience to climate change, and reduced land degradation and desertification.

A series of IISD Policy Updates highlight diverse issues relating to national reporting on SDG implementation under the different multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). [UNCCD Announcement on CRIC 15 Reporting Templates] [SDG 15] [WDCD 2016 Webpage] [Synergistic Implementation of the Three Rio Conventions in Namibia] [IISD RS Story on Data and Policy Tools to Support Implementation of Soil- and Land-related SDGs] [IISD Policy Updates]