19 July 2018
High-Level Consultations Take Stock of Strategies to Accelerate SDG 15.3
Photo by John Byrne | Sydney Harbour Bridge during a red dust storm
story highlights

On the sidelines of the HLPF Ministerial Segment, Canada, Iceland, Germany and Namibia hosted a high-level consultation on addressing the challenges of drought in the context of achieving LDN.

Parallel to the HLPF, a High-Level Dialogue on Sand and Dust Storms (SDS) convened during the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

At the First Global LDN Forum in Seoul, Korea, a 'Peace Forest Initiative' was proposed as one possible approach for simultaneously contributing to LDN and post-conflict recovery.

16 July 2018: A series of events convened under the auspices of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) have highlighted potential “enablers” as well as key impediments in achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN), the third target under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 (life on land). SDG 15 is one of the six Goals under review at the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) 2018.

On the sidelines of the HLPF Ministerial Segment, Permanent Representatives of the member countries of the ‘Group of Friends of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought’ organized a high-level consultation on how to address the challenges of drought in the context of achieving LDN. The event was co-hosted by Canada, Iceland, Germany and Namibia.

Taking note of projections that future droughts will increase in frequency, intensity and duration, the discussions explored the potential impact of LDN in alleviating these trends and accelerating the achievement of many other SDGs. The event built on discussions on this topic at the 13th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the UNCCD, held in September 2017 in Ordos, China, which led to the adoption of a decision on policy advocacy on drought. The COP 13 decision called for specific action to enhance: drought preparedness systems; regional efforts to reduce drought vulnerability and risk; and a toolbox to boost the resilience of people and ecosystems to drought.

Parallel to the HLPF discussions, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) convened the High-Level Dialogue on Sand and Dust Storms (SDS) on 16 July 2018, during its 72nd session. The dialogue focused on action-oriented recommendations to address the economic, social and environmental challenges faced by affected countries, including ways to improve policy coordination at the global level in the context of the SDGs. In a concept note for the event, the UNGA highlights the relevance of this topic for the HLPF’s review of SDG 15 and SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation). UNCCD COP 13 adopted the first ever decision on SDS, which encourages countries that are potential sources of sand and dust storms to explore this threat when considering their voluntary LDN targets.

In the lead up to HLPF 2018, the first-ever Global LDN Forum, co-organized by the Republic of Korea and the UNCCD in Seoul, Korea, took stock of voluntary initiatives to strengthen the implementation of LDN programmes. Among initiatives highlighted in the discussions were: the Changwon and Ankara Initiatives; One Belt One Road; the Sustainability, Stability, Security (3S) Initiative; the Drought Initiative, and the Great Green Wall for the Sahel and the Sahara. The discussions explored strategies to leverage these efforts by capturing, disseminating and scaling up best practices in sustainable land management (SLM) that span multiple countries. The role of regional knowledge platforms in facilitating people-to-people exchanges and disseminating simple SLM techniques was highlighted, as was the importance of innovative financial mechanisms – such as the blending of public and private financing and low interest loans for land stewards – in mitigating risks for investors in LDN projects.

Chaired by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Forum paid particular attention to how to promote peace and security through solutions to challenges in LDN implementation that span several countries. A ‘Peace Forest Initiative’ was proposed as one possible approach for simultaneously contributing to LDN, while also fostering post-conflict recovery in countries affected by drought, land degradation and desertification. Reflecting on this issue, Ban Ki-moon suggested that “it would be worthwhile to explore potential partnerships among government agencies, international organizations, academic and research institutions, and even private firms to begin to identify projects that will simultaneously contribute to SDGs, LDN and post-conflict recovery.” [UNCCD Press Release on the High-Level Event on Drought and LDN] [Concept Note for the High-Level Event on Drought and LDN] [UNCCD Press Release on First Global LDN Forum] [SDG Knowledge Hub Guest Article on SDS] [SDG Knowledge Hub Policy Brief on Links Between SDS, Land and Climate Agendas] [Concept Note for the UNGA High-Level Dialogue on SDS]

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