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Fact of the Month - Word of the Week



LAND is our wealth and our future. A better future is possible if we care, protect, recover, restore and invest in LAND. The ground beneath our feet is more precious than we know. Land is the foundation for all life on Earth.

How land is used and managed influences nature, food, water, energy, climate, and even our health. Today, the pressures on land and the wealth of resources it provides are greater than at any other time in human history.

Don't forget the ground on which we walk and the LAND that feeds us. This LAND is our LAND.

📚 Fact of the Month January 2021 - African greening initiative , the Great Green Wall receives $14 billion   

The Great Green Wall for the Sahel and Sahara, an initiative to combat desertification in the vast region, received a pledge of more than $14.2 billion in new funding over the next 10 years, to restore degrading land, protect biodiversity and strengthen resilience. 

According to the UN Convention on Combating Desertification Secretariat (UNCCD), overall, about $33 billion needed by the initiative to achieve its ambitious targets to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land, the soil capture of around 250 million tons of atmospheric carbon, and creation of some 10 million green jobs for communities, by 2030. 

Mohamed Cheikh El-Ghazouani, President of Mauritania and the Chair of Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Pan African Agency for the Green Great Wall, welcomed the announcement.  

“The mobilization of this additional funding through an innovative approach will certainly contribute to the achievement of the Great Green Wall goals”, he said. 

Since its inception in 2007, the country-led Great Green Wall programme has planted billions of trees and supported tens of thousands of local households. Its path snakes along the southern margin of Africa’s Sahara Desert running from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea. (Source)

📚 Word of the Week - Investment opportunities 

World Bank Plans to Invest over $5 Billion in Drylands in Africa. The World Bank plans to invest over $5 billion over the next five years to help restore degraded landscapes, improve agriculture productivity, and promote livelihoods across 11 African countries on a swathe of land stretching from Senegal to Djibouti.

World Bank Group President David Malpass announced the investment at the One Planet Summit, a high-level meeting co-hosted with France and the United Nations that is focused on addressing climate change and biodiversity loss.

“This investment, which comes at a crucial time, will help improve livelihoods as countries recover from COVID-19 while also dealing with the impact of both biodiversity loss and climate change on their people and economies,” said Malpass.

The more than $5 billion in financing will support agriculture, biodiversity, community development, food security, landscape restoration, job creation, resilient infrastructure, rural mobility, and access to renewable energy across 11 countries of the Sahel, Lake Chad and Horn of Africa. Many of these efforts are in line with the Great Green Wall initiative. This builds on World Bank landscape investments in these countries over the past eight years that reached more than 19 million people and placed 1.6 million hectares under sustainable land management.(Source)

The Director-General said FAO currently has a project portfolio of $238 million directly supporting the 5 Pillars of the Great Green Wall Accelerator and a total project portfolio of over $1.15 billion supporting 11 Great Green Wall countries. (Source)

More on investment opportunities from UNCCD Library:

investment opportunities ; land investment ; private investments ; innovative finance; LDN Fund

📚 Word of the Week- One health 

The One Health movement, (WHO) which has come to prominence in the last decade, advocates greater cross-sectoral collaboration and communication across the human-animal-environment interface. There has been a long-standing recognition that population health is intrinsically linked to both animal and environmental health, and that issues such as population growth, changes in climate and land use, and the movement of animals and people, have a huge impact on the collective health of our world today.

But the One Health concept takes this much further. By designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and multidisciplinary research, it seeks to deliver the best possible public health outcomes on a global scale. This has become increasingly urgent, as many of these changes have occurred in our very recent history: through the prevalence of deforestation and intensive farming, with the increase in forced migration due to climate change, or simply through modern methods of travel and trade (which allow diseases to spread quickly across the globe).

One Health is a “collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach—working at the local, regional, national, and global levels—with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes by recognising the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment”[1]. This synergistic concept has enormous potential to not only impact some of the biggest public health challenges of our time, from antimicrobial resistance, pandemic preparedness, to food safety and biosecurity – but also wider planetary health. 

Calvin Schwabe, another veterinarian trained in public health, coined the term One Medicine in a veterinary medical textbook in 1964, which reflects the similarities between animal and human medicine and stresses the importance of collaboration between veterinarians and physicians to help solve global health problems. World Health Summit 2020( Source

"The lesson is clear: a strong health system is a resilient health system. Health systems and preparedness are not only an investment in the future, they are the foundation of our response today." NEXT: October 24-26, 2021 World Health Summit Berlin, Germany & Digital

Further reading from UNCCD Library: Healthy land for healthy people ; health impacts; environmental problems and human health; zoonotic diseases ; The Implications of desertification, land degradation, drought, sand and dust storms on human health (research 1994-2020)

📚 Word of the Week- Migration

It is important to acknowledge that existing migration dynamics are modified or exacerbated by environmental degradation, rather than uniquely caused by it. If no urgent actions are taken to protect, restore and rehabilitate vital land resources, desertification, land degradation, and drought (DLDD) will increase poverty and inequality, leaving many with few other options than to embark on perilous out-migration journeys.

Land is the central component upon which the livelihoods of humanity rely. Our food, energy, and employments are associated with, and dependent on, its quality and well-being.

There is a risk that desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) disproportionally contribute to increased poverty, unemployment and inequality; and lead to the forced migration of those already most marginalized and vulnerable. Decisive action is therefore required to protect and restore vital land resources.

In addition, how environmental and migration policies are developed and enacted today will greatly influence the impacts of DLDD on migration tomorrow.

Migration has long been one of the most important livelihood strategies available to households to cope with environmental change and relieve population pressure from drylands unable to cope with additional stress. Due to the consideration that migration may be motivated by better employment opportunities, ensuring sustainable land management and ecosystem restoration compatible with the creation of decent and attractive employment opportunities is critical in order to reduce and avoid DLDD-related forced migration. 

Further reading from UNCCD Library :

📚 Word of the Week- Sand and Dust Storms (SDS)

Sand and dust storms (SDS), also known as sirocco, haboob, yellow dust, white storms, and the harmattan, are a natural phenomenon linked with land and water management and climate change. They are a combination of different hazards, such as sand, dust and wind. The fluctuation in their intensity, magnitude or interaction with each other is what can make them unpredictable and dangerous. 

  • Some 151 UNCCD country Parties – or 77 per cent – are affected directly by SDS and 45 country Parties (or 23 per cent) are classified as SDS source areas.
  • Most locations are in the low-latitude drylands, but dust sources can develop in almost any environment, often through human influence. Important potential drivers of future wind erosion and SDS occurrence include desertification, land degradation and climate change, high latitudes, industrial activities, especially due to unsustainable land and water management,  more extreme wind events, greater aridity in some areas, and greater drought frequency, severity and duration. 
  • SDS have significant socio-economic impacts on human health, agriculture, industry, transportation, water and air quality.
  • For instance, dust can cause damage to lungs and worsen the symptoms of bronchitis and respiratory diseases such as asthma.
  • Globally, 334 million people and 14 per cent of world’s children experience asthmatic symptoms.
  • In addition, dust storms can transport pathogens such as meningitis and valley fever. (Source) (Source)

Further reading on Sand and Dust Storms (SDS) from UNCCD Library:

📚 Fact of the Month - February 2021 - It is essential to integrate land tenure security into national strategies in order to achieve LDN  

Access to land, security of tenure and land management all have significant implications for livelihood, development, land degradation reduction, and investments in Sustainable Land Management (SLM); land tenure security is, moreover, central to agricultural production and sustainable use of natural resources. These are all crucial elements to consider in view of the challenges faced by humanity today, which include climate change, the provision of adequate and equitable housing, food security, disaster risk reduction, and peace and security.(Source)

Responsible land governance is a fundamental component of sustainable land management and is important to addressing desertification/land degradation and drought (Source)

One of the causal linkages between land tenure and land degradation is the different forms and degrees of how securely land is held by the legitimate tenure rights bearer (owner, occupant, renter or user). While a diverse set of variables operate to drive land resources toward conservation, sustainable management or degradation, the contribution of tenure security is, broadly, that those who hold land securely are able and motivated to invest in resource conservation practices with a view to long-term health and productivity, without fear that their land can be unjustly taken or encroached upon. (Source)

Land tenure security can lead to good land stewardship if all facets of the enabling environment are addressed together. The implementation of UNCCD decision 26/COP.14 could provide an opportunity to accelerate the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, with the aim of optimizing the use of land for the benefit of all, while ensuring the achievement of LDN. (Source)

The UNCCD SPI programme for 2018–2019 highlights the cooperation with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in engaging the Global Land Indicators Initiative to harmonize land indicators in the measurement of tenure security as part of the indicators used for measuring progress towards LDN. ICCD/COP(14)/CST/4 (Source)

UNCCD SPI has produced a technical paper on “Creating an Enabling Environment for LDN and its Potential Contribution to Enhancing Well-being, Livelihoods and the Environment”, which suggests that in many cases LDN will require improved land governance. 

The international community has recognized the important role played by tenure security in sustainable economic growth and included it in eight SDG targets and twelve SDG indicators.

Tenure security directly impacts investment, credit availability, market access, land values, poverty rates and agricultural productivity – all of which underpin economic growth. Economic growth depends on secure land tenure. Tenure security gives individuals, families, communities and companies the confidence to invest in land resources. ( Source)  

📚 Word of the Week - Land tenure

Positioning land tenure within LDN: framework, implementation model and monitoring. In order to position tenure rights within the LDN approach, this article first proposes how land tenure, viewed as sets of tools, can be specifically integrated into the LDN framework, implementation model , and monitoring approach.

  • The land tenure additions to these schematics in Figures 1 - 3 are made by the present article with regard to how they contribute to the avoidance of land degradation, and for the recovery of degraded areas – the two overarching priorities for LDN.
  • While certainly the relationships between land tenure and LDN, and between land tenure security and land degradation are quite complex, the point of the paper is to examine broadly how land tenure concepts, tools, and approaches can be inserted into the LDN framework, as opposed to attempting an exhaustive review of all the possible of particular concern. Climate change and land degradation are closely associated in many parts of the world.

The intent of this article is to introduce and contribute to the establishment and use of land tenure within the LDN approach. An important finding of this paper is that the robustness of the LDN framework allows for a detailed “good fit” of land tenure as tools into the framework. In this regard, land tenure can identify in two broad sets of tools that align with the LDN priorities. This approach aligns resources, including the eight design principles of institutions that have shown to be relevant to successful management of common pool and non-common pool resources.

In particular, the principles of clearly defined boundaries, the participation of individuals and communities affected by operational rules in rule definition and modification, and the need to derive conflict resolution and monitoring mechanisms for finite resources such as land.

While additional work is needed in order to more thoroughly integrate into the LDN approach the important land tenure research, policy, and practice that has taken place in recent decades, it is the intent of this article to start this process so as to make progress toward the sustainable development goal of land degradation neutrality by the 2030 target date. (Source)Land tenure in support of land degradation neutrality

Further reading  and resources from UNCCD Library:

📚 Fact of the Month September 2020 -The Great Green Wall is more than just an environmental project  

The Great Green Wall is more than just an environmental project that is intended to restore 100 million hectares of fertile lands in the Sahel, sequester 250 million tons of carbon and create 10 million green jobs.

"It's not just about planting trees in the Sahel region, but also about tackling issues such as climate change, drought, famine, conflict, migration and land degradation.

Africa's "great green wall" of vegetation should run 7,700 kilometers (4831 miles) across the Sahara and Sahel from Senegal to Djibouti. This vast stretch of trees is meant to reverse land degradation and combat poverty by creating jobs and boosting food security.

The Great Green Wall is a pan-African initiative to restore and sustainably manage land in the Sahel- Saharan region in order to address both land degradation and poverty. It was first envisioned in 2005 The African Union (AU) launched the initiative in 2007 under the name the Great Green Wall.

On 17 June 2010 the 11 Sahel states south of the Sahara created the Pan-African Agency of the GGW to coordinate its implementation and support resources mobilization

The Great Green Wall initiative promises to boost food security and resilience to climate change, create thousands of jobs for the communities along the path, especially women and young people, and address urgent threats to the people of this region such as drought, famine, conflict and migration.

Major progress has already been made in restoring the fertility of Sahelian lands, according to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), one of the key partners in the initiative. Examples include:

  • Ethiopia: 15 million hectares of degraded land restored. Land tenure security improved.
  • Senegal: 11.4 million trees planted. 25,000 hectares of degraded land restored.
  • Nigeria: 5 million hectares of degraded land restored. 20,000 jobs created.
  • Sudan: 2,000 hectares of land restored.
  • Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger: about 120 communities involved; a green belt created over more than 2,500 hectares of degraded and drylands; more than 2 million seeds and seedlings planted from fifty native species of trees.

The initiators emphasize that the Great Green Wall makes a vital contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that it is a global symbol for humanity overcoming its biggest threat: the rapidly degrading environment.

On its website, the initiative states: “It shows that if we can work with nature, even in challenging places like the Sahel, we can overcome adversity, and build a better world for generations to come.“

Further reading: compilation prepared by UNCCD Library 

📚 Word of the Week- Land restoration

Land restoration is the process of regaining ecological functionality of degraded land, thus reinstalling ecosystem goods and services. To be effective and sustainable, land restoration should be approached at the landscape scale, which is referred to as landscape restoration.

Despite increasing rates of land degradation, it is possible to reduce and even reverse these processes through restoration and improved land management to strengthen communities’ resilience to climate change, reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and ensure food security for generations to come (FAO 2019; IPCC 2019). Reducing and reversing land degradation can be achieved through a number of initiatives, including the achievement of UN SDGs, the Rio Conventions and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021 -2030).

One of the key objectives of the UNCCD is to reach Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030, a target also included in the SDG 15. LDN aims to balance land degradation with land restoration, to eventually maintain or even increase ecosystem functions and services as well as food security from land resources.

Progress towards the target of restoring 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems by 2020 is limited. Nevertheless, ambitious restoration programmes are under way or proposed in many regions, with the potential to deliver significant gains in ecosystem resilience and preservation of carbon stocks. The target has not been achieved (medium confidence). (Source GBO5)

Restoring 160 million hectares of degraded agricultural land could boost smallholder farmers’ incomes in developing countries by $35-40 billion per year while providing additional food for nearly 200 million people. Forest restoration can also help reduce carbon emissions while boosting rural livelihoods and jobs, including in high-income countries.(Source)

As the climate crisis worsens, 65% of Africa’s land is affected by degradation. Should no action be taken, this would lead to an estimated loss of PPP USD 4.6 trillion over 15 years up to 2030. Rural small and medium enterprises working on sustainable agriculture and forestry are crucial to land restoration and the rural economy.

However, because these enterprises are too small for commercial banks and too large for microfinance, they have relatively few sources of finance available to them. Consequently, they frequently lack the capital needed to grow their businesses and serve more farmers. These rural communities are already highly vulnerable to climate change and food insecurity, the latter being exacerbated by the current COVID-19 crisis.

The Rural Prosperity Bond (RPB) will provide loans to SMEs working in land restoration in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. (Source)

Publications, articles and more about land restoration, GGW  from UNCCD Library

📚 Word of the Week- Land Degradation Neutrality( LDN)

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 (decision 3/COP.12, UNCCD, 2015a). Decision 3/COP. 12 Integration of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets into the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and the Intergovernmental Working Group report on land degradation neutrality.

The LDN concept has been developed to encourage implementation of an optimal mix of measures designed to avoid, reduce and/or reverse land degradation in order to achieve a state of no net loss of healthy and productive land. LDN aims to balance anticipated losses in land-based natural capital and associated ecosystem functions and services with measures that produce alternative gains through approaches such as land restoration and sustainable land management.

LDN is a simple idea and a powerful tool. It means securing enough healthy and productive natural resources by avoiding degradation whenever possible and restoring land that has already been degraded. At its core are better land management practices and better land use planning that will improve economic, social and ecological sustainability for present and future generations.

Numerous direct links exist between LDN and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), such as eradicating poverty, ensuring food security, protecting the environment and using natural resources sustainably. LDN serves as a catalyst in achieving these goals.

Publications, articles and more about Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) from UNCCD Library

📚 Word of the Week- Food security

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. (World Food Summit, 1996)

“We believe in a world where healthy, sustainable and inclusive food systems, allow people and planet to thrive. It is a world without poverty or hunger, a world of inclusive growth, environmental sustainability, and social justice. It is a resilient world where no one is left behind.” Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit

Despite its multifaceted nature, the debate surrounding food security over the last few decades has largely focused on production and on the challenges facing the agricultural system. Food security has also been directly associated with hunger, poverty and humanitarian aspects. Although agriculture and fisheries are fundamental and essential components of the food system, it is misguided to address the future of food security without looking at the system’s many other determinants. The time has come to overcome this conventional approach and to look systemically at food security and its complex nature (Source)

There is more than enough food in the world to feed our population of 7.8 billion people. But, today, more than 820 million people are hungry. And some 144 million children under the age of 5 are stunted – more than one in five children worldwide. Our food systems are failing, and the Covid-19 pandemic is making things worse. Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults. This year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis the Secretary-General stresses in his latest Policy Brief on Food Security. Access it here


The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all.Using a multi-stakeholder, inclusive approach, CFS develops and endorses policy recommendations and guidance on a wide range of food security and nutrition topics.  These are developed starting from scientific and evidence-based reports produced by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) and/or through work supported technically by The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Programme (WFP) and representatives of the CFS Advisory Group. CFS holds an annual Plenary session every October in FAO, Rome.

Responsible investment in agriculture and food systems is essential for enhancing food security and nutrition and supporting the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security. (Source)

In 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will convene a Food Systems Summit to raise global awareness and land global commitments and actions that transform food systems to resolve not only hunger, but to reduce diet-related disease and heal the planet. The Secretary General is calling for collective action of all citizens to radically change the way we produce, process, and consume food.

Food is a life force for our families, cultures, and our communities. But profound changes in the way food is grown, processed, distributed, consumed, and wasted over the last several decades has led to increasing threats to a future of food that is sustainable, equitable, and secure. Food interconnects with all aspects of our lives: Water • Land • Energy • Culture • Jobs • Technology • Economies • Policies • Families.

Based on research using a machine-learning tool to analyze over 500,000 published reports and articles and economic modelling, the research project finds that an additional USD 14 billion per year until 2030 is needed to achieve SDG 2.
The researchers propose ten interventions organized around three focus areas: On the farm, Food on the move, and Empower the excluded. (Source)

Publications, articles and more about food security from UNCCD Library


📚 Word of the Week-Youth employment

Today’s young people are the most educated generation ever. Nevertheless, they encounter difficulties in entering and remaining in the labour market. For too many of them, the transition to work is problematic. Opportunities for young people to find a job are bound to the general state of the economy and overall employment situation in a country. However, they are also influenced by the education and skills young people possess, the relevance of these skills for the labour market and the possibilities available to youth to apply and use these skills. 

Young women and men are invaluable assets that no country can afford to waste. They bring energy, talent and creativity to the world of work together with new skills and the motivation that enable companies to grow, innovate and prosper. But today’s youth face important challenges in the labour market. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every aspect of our lives. Even before the onset of the crisis, the social and economic integration of young people was an ongoing challenge. Now, unless urgent action is taken, young people are likely to suffer severe and long-lasting impacts from the pandemic.

The youth employment challenge is enormous. But it is not insurmountable. We have a vision of a world where young women and men everywhere can earn a fair income while working in conditions of security, dignity and equality. Getting young people into decent jobs is not just essential for their future, but for the future of our local communities, our countries and our global society. Decent jobs for youth are also essential to realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Investing in youth employment requires a collaborative approach to prioritizing job creation while helping youth to overcome specific disadvantages, such as skills mismatch and discrimination.

COVID-19 has shown us just how fragile and globalised our economies and societies are. Poverty and income inequality will severely limit opportunities for youth employment in the post-COVID world. Investing in young people for decent and sustainable jobs must be put at the forefront of policy action so we can build resilient nations with equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that respect nature and care for future generations.


  • Today there are 1.8 billion people in the world between the ages of 15 and 35 — a quarter of the global population. This is largest generation of youth and young people the world has ever known. Young adults are the backbone of every society, providing energy, ideas and investment potential.(Source)
  • The global recession is expected to result in the loss of five to 25 million jobs, and it will be young adults and young people that are most vulnerable to unemployment. Across the world, young working people will be the first to lose their jobs, or will have to resort to lower quality, less paid, insecure or unsafe jobs (Source)
  • Before the pandemic, EU youth unemployment (15-24) was 14.9%, down from its peak of 24.4% in 2013. In July 2020, it rose to 17%. The European Commission’s summer 2020 economic forecast predicts that the EU economy will shrink 8.3% in 2020, the deepest recession in the EU's history. To offset the impact on young people, the Commission proposed a new initiative called Youth Employment Support in July 2020.
  • Global youth unemployment rate is three times higher than for adults (OECD, 2018 data). At 13.6 %, with considerable regional variation, 9% in Northern America and sub-Saharan Africa to 30% in Northern Africa, these young adults and other young adults will be hardest hit by the current global recession. And the young women that make up over half of the youth unemployed, will find it harder than ever to close the gender gap.(Source)
  • Of the 38.1 per cent estimated total working poor in sub-Saharan Africa, young people account for 23.5 per cent. (Source)
  • Youth are Africa’s greatest asset. Africa’s youth population is rapidly growing and expected to double to over 830million by 2050. If properly harnessed, this increase in the working age population could support increased productivity and stronger, more inclusive economic growth across the continent. But today, the majority of youth in Africa do not have stable economic opportunities. Of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in wage employment. Youth face roughly double the unemployment rate of adults, with significant variation by country. (Source)
  • The vision of the Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy 2016 2025 is to create 25million jobs and reach over 50million Africans by driving inclusive growth across the continent and equipping youth to realize their full economic potential. Overall, this strategy is anchored in the overall vision of Improving Quality of Life for All Africans. (Source)
  • Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is the world’s youngest continent, with 70 per cent of its rapidly increasing population below the age of 30. Every year, 25 million young people in Africa enter the labour market, more than half of them (14 million) in rural areas. By the year 2030, 320 million new jobs will need to be created, which makes Rural Youth Employment (RYE) one of the most pressing and challenging topics (Source)
  • Creating opportunities for rural youth is more urgent than ever. Countries have an urgent choice to make: create employment opportunities, especially in rural areas, and reap the demographic dividends of a young vibrant workforce or face the social unrest and political instability that high rates of youth unemployment may bring about. This call for proposals is to select a recipient or consortium of recipients to receive a four-year IFAD grant financing to implement the project: Rural youth employment opportunities: Support to integrated agribusiness hubs initiative, for a total amount of up to US$3.5 million.(Source)

Publications, articles and more about youth employment opportunities, youth and agriculture from UNCCD Library:

📚 Fact of the Month October 2020 - One third of the food grown is lost or wasted every year.

One third of the food grown is lost or wasted every year. This amounts to a staggering 1.3 billion tons of food, which would be enough to feed 2 billion people in the world, and negatively affects climate change, poverty and trade.

In turn, this has an important impact on the right to adequate food of broad sectors of the population.

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly disrupted our dynamics. In addition to the damage it has caused to daily life, it has exposed these systemic problems and the need for urgent changes in the way we manage the planet and its fruits, including food loss and waste.

Although disruptions to the food supply chain are – for now – relatively minor overall, measures imposed by States to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus have generated obstacles typical of distant times: from cultivation and harvesting, through transport and storage, up to consumption.

Mobility restrictions (closure of roads and borders, and delays due to mandatory controls) prevent or delay the transport and distribution of goods, resulting in agricultural products that spoil or are not sold due to their low quality. Changes in demand reduce the income of producers, especially small farmers or those living in remote rural areas.

On the consumer side, families with lower purchasing power find it even more costly to access fresh and more perishable foods, such as fruits or fish (leading to unhealthier diets and long-term health costs).

During the pandemic, access to food is not only a problem for the poorest, but also in many cases for people with greater resources who have traditionally been able to afford fresh products of high nutritional value and healthy diets. Among them, the at-risk population, or elderly or chronically ill people, who have to stay at home.

The pandemic has taught us that in times of crisis, it is not only essential to ensure the flow of non-perishable food, but also the linkages between consumers and producers. This facilitates access to fresh foods and healthy diets for all, as well as maintaining demand and sustaining local production, and in turn combating food loss and waste.

To date, we have witnessed the rapid implementation of initiatives to address these challenges.

In Spain, the municipality of Valladolid helped to set up safe home delivery of ‘zero kilometre’ or local foods that have not travelled far after production. The Government of Oman has transformed the fish auction markets from a physical marketplace to a digital platform, where market workers upload photos of the catch and wholesalers, retailers and restaurants can view the daily offer and place their orders online.

Even before the pandemic, the South African “Second Harvest” program, led by a non-profit organization, allowed commercial farmers to donate to vulnerable people the post-harvest surplus produced directly from the farms and distributed with refrigerated vehicles, preserving their quality and nutritional value.

The 2021 Food Systems Summit, convened by the United Nations Secretary General, will be a great opportunity to rethink how to improve access to healthy diets and income for small producers, as well as reducing loss and waste. (Source)

  • It has been estimated that, to end hunger by 2030, additional investments in agriculture amounting to US$265 billion a year between 2016 and 2030 will be required at the global level, US$41 billion of which should be committed to social protection to reach the poorest in rural areas; and US$198 billion for pro-poor investment in productive and inclusive livelihood schemes, including regarding water  (Source)
  • We are facing a time of immense challenges: one in eight people in the world live in extreme poverty; 815 million people are undernourished; 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year; six million children die before their fifth birthday each year; 202 million people are unemployed; three billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating; our soils, freshwater, oceans, forests are being rapidly degraded, biodiversity eroded; and climate change is putting even more pressure on resources we depend on, disrupting national economies and blighting many people’s lives SOFI p.159 (Source; Source; Source)
  • Did you know 1km2 of desert locusts can eat the same food as 35,000 people? (Source)
📚 Word of the Week - Food Loss

Food loss is the decrease in the quantity or quality of food resulting from decisions and actions by food suppliers in the chain, excluding retailers, food service providers and consumers (SOFA, 2019) Food waste refers to the decrease in the quantity or quality of food resulting from decisions and actions by retailers, food service providers and consumers (SOFA, 2019)

  • Stop the waste of food. On 29 September 2020, we celebrate the first observance of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste. It also comes during the global COVID-19 pandemic, that has brought about a wake-up call on the need to transform and rebalance the way our food is produced and consumed. Wasting less, eating better and adopting a sustainable lifestyle are key to building a world free of hunger. Little changes to our daily habits can make a huge global impact. Take action. Stop food loss and waste. For the people and for the planet. (Source)
  • Globally, around 14 percent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail. Significant quantities are also wasted in retail and at the consumption level. When food is loss or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce this food including water, land, energy, labour and capital – go to waste. In addition, the disposal of food loss and waste in landfills, leads to greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. 
  • 15 quick tips for reducing food waste and becoming a Food hero Three smart ways innovation is helping reduce food loss and waste. One thing is clear: in this time of crisis, there is no room for food loss and waste! (Source)

Publications, articles and more about food loss and food waste; land footprint; consumption from UNCCD Library

📚 Word of the Week - Gender and Land

UNCCD parties are committed to improving the quality of life for women worldwide. In September 2017, the UNCCD’s Gender Action Plan (GAP) was adopted at COP13 in Ordos, China. Its overall goal is to support and enhance the implementation of the gender-related decisions and mandates adopted in the UNCCD process.  

Women hold valuable knowledge on land use and management, especially in the rural areas. Therefore, using gender‐specific ways of documenting and preserving women’s knowledge should be central to sustainable management and restoration efforts. Increasing women’s presence in decision-making will play a pivotal role in closing the gender gap in land ownership and management and help create a land degradation neutral world that is gender responsive. (Source)

The role of women’s empowerment for land and soil health is not yet well understood and also seldom recognized in interventions that aim to improve soil health and land management outcomes. Soil health outcomes and thus food system sustainability can be dramatically strengthened by better addressing gendered preferences and constraints.(Source)

  • Information and data for a nuanced, gender-responsive analysis of the country context for LDN projects – particularly major political, legal and social factors that influence the realization of women’s land rights – can be accessed at the following knowledge hubs ( p. 18)(Source)
  • Examples of gender-responsive technologies and training in LDN projects (  p. 21)(Source)
  • Examples of LDN project-based Gender Action Plans (p. 31)(Source)
  • One in three people on earth depend directly on agriculture, while nearly 80% of employed women in least developed countries report agriculture as their primary livelihood(Source)
  • Studies found that women with secure land rights benefit from having greater status within the household, an increased role in decision-making and a higher likelihood of investing in soil conservation and agroforestry. Likewise, efforts to bolster the land rights of collectively-held land users, who by some estimates hold 65% of the world’s land areas under customary systems, have led to enhanced land use and management outcomes(Source)
  • Women typically own less land and have less secure rights over land than men.  Women make up, on average, fewer than 20% of the world’s landholders, with a wide range across countries(Source)
  • Yet women are active in defending their rights and combating desertification, i.e. many are involved in counteracting land degradation or even in its restoration via associations, farmers’ organizations and individual initiatives. Operators and policymakers must now take these women stakeholders into better account, as they are too often overlooked in policies to combat desertification. (Source)
  • Women—in addition to their farming activities, particularly growing subsistence crops—shoulder most tasks encompassed by the social reproduction concept (e.g. domestic activities, child- and elder-care). This unpaid yet essential work is time consuming and restricts women’s mobility. (Source)
  • In dryland countries with low human development rates, women’s heavy and arduous workloads increase when resources such as water, fuelwood or products gathered for food, medicinal purposes or handicrafts are in short supply.(Source)
  • But women are also active in defending their rights and combatting desertification, i.e. many are involved in counteracting land degradation or even in its restoration via associations, farmers’ organizations and individual initiatives. Operators and policymakers must now take these women stakeholders into better account, as they are too often overlooked in policies to combat desertification.(Source)

Publications, articles and more about gender and land, gender equality, gender and land rights,  from UNCCD Library

📚 Word of the Week - Disaster Risk Reduction

The State of Climate Services 2020 Report: Move from Early Warnings to Early Action, released on Tuesday by the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), underscored the need to switch to impact-based forecasting – an evolution from “what the weather will be” to “what the weather will do” so that people and businesses can act early, based on the warnings. 

“Early warning systems constitute a prerequisite for effective disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Being prepared and able to react at the right time, in the right place, can save many lives and protect the livelihoods of communities everywhere,” Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of WMO, said in a foreword to the report. 

He also highlighted that while it could take years to recover from the human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to remember that climate change will continue to pose an on-going and increasing threat to human lives, ecosystems, economies and societies for centuries to come. 

Globally over the past 50 years, some 11,000 disasters, attributed to weather, climate and water-related hazards, claimed over 2 million lives and cost the world economy $3.6 trillion, according to WMO. 

In 2018 alone, storms, floods, droughts and wildfires left some 108 million people in need of international humanitarian assistance. By 2030, this number could increase by almost 50 per cent at a cost of around $20 billion a year. 

In spite of the alarming figures, one in three people are still not adequately covered by early warning systems, with communities in Africa, least developed countries and small island developing States most affected, the UN agency added, citing challenges such as weak dissemination of early warning, inadequate observing networks, and insufficient capacity to translate early warning into early action.  (Source)

More on disaster risk reduction, early warning systems from UNCCD Library

📚 Word of the Week - Poverty

Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, as well as the lack of participation in decision-making.

In 2015, more than 736 million people lived below the international poverty line. Around 10 per cent of the world population is living in extreme poverty and struggling to fulfil the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few.

  • There are 122 women aged 25 to 34 living in poverty for every 100 men of the same age group, and more than 160 million children are at risk of continuing to live in extreme poverty by 2030.

As the United Nations commemorates International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer– which may also reflect the realities of widespread economic inequalities worldwide.

  • The world’s total population is around 7.8 billion, and according to the UN, more than 736 million people live below the international poverty line.

By 2021, as many as 150 million more people could be living in extreme poverty.

  • In contrast, the wealth of the world’s billionaires reached a new record high in the middle of the pandemic, primarily as “a rebound in tech stocks boosting the fortunes of the global elite”, according to a report released last week by UBS Global Wealth Management and PwC Switzerland.
  • Providing a sheaf of statistics, the report said total wealth held by billionaires reached $10.2 trillion last July, described as “a new high”, compared with $8.9 trillion in 2017. ( Source)
  • A World Bank report last week said extreme poverty is set to rise this year, for the first time in more than two decades, while the impact of the spreading virus is expected to push up to 115 million more people into poverty. Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2020. Reversals of Fortune  .
  • More than 40 percent of the global poor live in economies affected by conflict and violence, and, in some economies, most of the poor are concentrated in specific areas.
  • About 132 million of the global poor live in areas with high flood risk. Moreover, many of the poor face exposure to multiple risks.
  • In several countries, a large share of the poor live in areas that are both affected by conflict and face high exposure to floods.
  • Facing the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, many of the new poor are likely to live in congested urban settings and  to work  in  the  sectors  most  affected  by  lockdowns  and  mobility  restrictions;  many  are  engaged  in  informal services and not reached by existing social safety nets.
  • Conflict, climate change, and COVID-19 are having a clear impact on the global poor, in many cases compounding the challenges of those living in poverty.

While global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, one in ten people in developing regions still lives on less than US$ 1.90 a day - the internationally agreed poverty line, and millions of others live on slightly more than this daily amount. Significant progress has been made in many countries within Eastern and Southeastern Asia, but up to 42 per cent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to live below the poverty line.(Source)

  • 736 million people lived below the international poverty line of US$ 1.90 a day in 2015.
  • In 2018, almost 8 per cent of the world’s workers and their families lived on less than US$1.90 per person per day. Most people living below the poverty line belong to two regions: Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • High poverty rates are often found in small, fragile and conflict-affected countries.
  • As of 2018, 55 per cent of the world’s population have no access to at least one social protection cash benefit.

Ending poverty in all its forms is the first of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. (Source)

More than 700 million people, or 10 per cent of the world population, still live in extreme poverty today, struggling to fulfil the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few. The majority of people living on less than $1.90 a day live in sub-Saharan Africa. Worldwide, the poverty rate in rural areas is 17.2 per cent—more than three times higher than in urban areas. 

For those who work, having a job does not guarantee a decent living. In fact, 8 per cent of employed workers and their families worldwide lived in extreme poverty in 2018. One out of five children live in extreme poverty. Ensuring social protection for all children and other vulnerable groups is critical to reduce poverty.

  • COVID-19 will widen poverty gap between women and men, new UN Women and UNDP data shows.The pandemic will push 47 million more women and girls below the poverty line, reversing decades of progress to eradicate extreme poverty (Source)
  • The data, summarized in a UN Women report From Insights to Action: Gender Equality in the wake of COVID-19, also show that the pandemic will push 96 million people into extreme poverty by 2021, 47 million of whom are women and girls. This will increase the total number of women and girls living in extreme poverty to 435 million, with projections showing that this number will not revert to pre-pandemic levels until 2030.
  • For instance, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 55 percent of the population (558 million people) is multidimensionally poor. Of these, 98 percent (547 million people) do not have access to clean cooking fuel, 84 percent (470 million people) lack access to electricity and 66 percent (366 million people) do not have access to clean drinking water. (Source)
  • With 59 percent of the world’s poor women currently living in sub-Saharan Africa, the region will continue to host the highest number of the world’s extreme poor. Yet, after making significant gains in poverty reduction in the past few years, South Asia is projected to experience a resurgence in extreme poverty. By 2030, for every 100 men aged 25–34 living in poverty in Southern Asia there will be 129 poor women, an increase from 118 in 2021.(Source)
  • An estimated 1 in 6 children—or 356 million globally—lived in extreme poverty before the pandemic, and this is set to worsen significantly, according to a new World Bank Group-UNICEF analysis. Global Estimate of Children in Monetary Poverty: An Update notes that Sub-Saharan Africa—with limited social safety nets—accounts for two-thirds of children living in households that struggle to survive on an average of $1.90 a day or less per person—the international measure for extreme poverty. South Asia accounts for nearly a fifth of these children. (Source)

Publications, articles and more about povertypoverty and land , poverty  infographic , COVID 19 and poverty, from UNCCD Library

📚 Word of the Week - Resilient cities

Resilient cities are cities that have the ability to absorb, recover and prepare for future shocks (economic, environmental, social & institutional). Resilient cities promote sustainable development, well-being and inclusive growth. How cities can increase their resilience ? (Source)

World Cities Day 2020 is the seventh global celebration since the day was launched on 31 October 2014 in Shanghai, China. Under overarching theme of Better City, Better Life, the aim of the day is to focus the international community’s attention on urbanisation as a central issue for development and to encourage cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing urban challenges towards sustainable development.(Source)

Each year a different sub-theme is selected, to either promote successes of urbanization, or address specific challenges resulting from urbanization. The sub-theme for this year is Valuing our communities and cities, and the Global Observance will be hosted in Nakuru, Kenya.

World Cities Day seeks to promote global interest in urbanization and engender international cooperation to address the challenges of urbanization, thereby contributing to sustainable urban development.

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the climate crisis continues to impact our cities, towns and regions around the world. Daring Cities is the global, action-oriented virtual forum, designed by ICLEI and the city of Bonn, to empower urban leaders - such as mayors, city councilors, administrators, and urban thought leaders, as well as national government representatives, researchers, technical staff, business leaders, civil society decision-makers and community organizers - to tackle the climate crisis, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Running from 7 to 28 October 2020, Daring Cities features ambitious global action in a variety of time zones, languages, and formats.

Making Cities Resilient Campaign (MCR2030) - Most of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050. Cities will be the frontlines to avoid the creation of new risk, reduce existing risk and strengthen resilience, including risks from health emergencies. Over the past ten years, the Making Cities Resilient Campaign has advocated the need for local government authorities to reduce risk and develop urban resilience. 4,347 cities demonstrate their commitment by joining. The Making Cities Resilient 2030 builds on the success and lessons learned of the previous decade of work under the Campaign. New partnerships and delivery mechanisms will be leveraged to focus gradually shift from advocacy to implementation support.

MCR2030 will be a global partnership of actors with expertise in urban resilience, DRR, climate change and the SDGs. It will provide a resilience roadmap for cities with defined commitments over time on how to improve local resilience. MCR2030 will provide a suite of tools and knowledge guidance, from existing pool with partners that cities can use to better reduce risk and build resilience. It will promote regional networks of partners with strong links and implementation experience so that cities are connected into a movement that can support implementation of resilience measures. By 2030, MCR2030 aims to have increasing number of cities committed to reducing local disaster/climate risk and building resilience.

This event is the launch of the MCR2030, with all core partners demonstrating support to this global partnership, for operation starting from January 2021.(Source)

UNECE Forum of Mayors 2020 will champion the role of local actors in addressing the climate ‎crisis. An urban focus in the context of climate change is particularly important as the UNECE region is among the most highly urbanized in the world, with some 75% of the population already living in cities. (Source)

DID YOU KNOW: Cities and desertification

  • World Mayors’ Meet To Combat Global Desertification 1997 Rome and 1999 Bonn (Source)

Rural Poverty, Migration, and Urbanization, was held in Rome's City Hall from 3 to 4 October 1997. A non-governmental organization summit, a special exhibit of "Comics to Combat Desertification", and other events took also take place in the margins of the main meeting.The Rome gathering was a parallel event to the First Conference of Parties to the Convention to Combat Desertification, which resulted in the Declaration of Rome on Cities and Desertification. The Forum was attended by mayors and local authorities, city network organizations, experts and NGOs from 21 countries affected by desertification and representatives of international organizations. The aim was to: (i) analyse linkages between soil degradation, desertification and rural-urban migration;(ii) highlight the role of local authorities in desertification control,urban management and poverty eradication by way of NAPs; and(iii) identify viable models for decentralized partnership. An informal Inter-City Desertification Network was established for the purpose of promoting information exchanges and increasing public awareness. (Source)

  • Declaration of Rome on Cities and Desertification October 1997  highlighted the cities’ potential role in combating desertification and urged a deeper and more official involvement in activities dealing with the implementation of the Convention.(Source)

Cities are increasingly becoming recipients of desertification- induced migration as millions of landless farmers are driven to urban centres. This makes it incumbent on mayors to set up a network aimed at “internal sustainable development”, said Baerbel Dieckmann, the mayor of the city of Bonn and host to the forum. Keen to host the desertification convention secretariat, the German government has been canvassing for support particularly among African countries threatened by the problem.(Source)

Mayors of nearly 100 cities around the world discussed ways and means of international cooperation. The meeting was organised by the citiy of Bonn in cooperation with UNCCD, IFAD and Rome (whose mayor, Francesco Rutelli, hosted the first forum in October 1997).

Urban areas are directly vulnerable to desertification. In particular, they are the main recipients of desertification-induced migrants forced to leave their land because of food insecurity, poverty, wood and water shortages, and conflict. Cities represent a natural link between rural areas and national governments. Furthermore, they can adopt effective policies for encouraging change. Their consumption patterns, trade links with rural areas, lobbying capacity at the national level, and ability to assist both rural areas and other cities are just a few examples of the levers that local authorities can manipulate in the fight against desertification. (Source)

  • At the 13th session of the Conference of Parties (COP), mayors from all over the world gather during the High Level segment to exchange on opportunities for local governments to help address the challenges of land degradation. With respect to the questions “How can we minimize land use and have livable cities?” and “How can we meet daily needs in a sustainable manner?”, interventions emphasized that the ways in which cities are planned, financed, developed, built, governed and managed has a direct impact on sustainability and resilience that goes well beyond urban boundaries.
  • While optimizing land use, better land-use planning should aim to create multiple benefits for people, soil and nature. In this context, and to reaffirm the progress made at COP13, more than 80 Ministers from around the world issued the Ordos Declaration urging countries to step up efforts on all fronts to tackle desertification – one of the planet’s most pressing global challenges. The document also includes an invitation to “local governments, in particular, to collaborate to create inclusive and sustainable cities using sustainable land management approaches and integrated land use planning”.
  • The issue was brought forward at UNCCD COP14, held in India in September 2019 with a renewed attention to the role of local governments as part of the solution in the fight against DLDD. A Local and Regional Governments Day (facilitated by ICLEI – local governments for sustainability) was held on 7 September with more than 100 participants and the conclusions of the day then fed into the Ministerial Roundtable at the high-level segment on “Rural and urban communities – failing or flourishing together”. High level participants highlighted that rural and urban communities needed to act as partners and not competitors. Land-use planning should be considered together with natural ecosystem conservation. Participants also highlighted the need to increase the linkages with the market and promote collaboration between the public and private sectors to bring together sustainable supply and value chains. In the New Delhi Declaration, Parties decided to “Encourage local governments to adopt integrated land use management and enhanced land governance to rehabilitate the natural resource base that makes cities sustainable, taking into consideration the New Urban Agenda, including by reducing rates of land consumption and soil sealing along with biodiversity and ecosystem loss”.

Further reading  from UNCCD Library on:

📚 Fact of the Month November 2020 - Land-use change, agricultural expansion, and urbanization cause more than 30% of emerging disease events 

Land use change is a major global driver of pandemic risk. New study stems from an urgent virtual workshop convened by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) to investigate the links between pandemic risk and the degradation of nature. 

It finds that risk is increasing rapidly, with more than five new diseases emerging in people every year, any one of which could potentially spark a pandemic. 

COVID 19 is at least the sixth global health pandemic since the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, also known as the Spanish flu, the 22 experts said. 

They stressed that although the new disease has its origins in microbes carried by animals, like all pandemics, its emergence has been entirely driven by human activities

“There is no great mystery about the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic – or of any modern pandemic”, Dr. Peter Daszak, President of EcoHealth Alliance and Chair of the IPBES workshop.  

“The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk through their impacts on our environment. Changes in the way we use land; the expansion and intensification of agriculture; and unsustainable trade, production and consumption disrupt nature and increase contact between wildlife.”

This report embraces the need for transformative change and uses scientific evidence to identify policy options to prevent pandemics. Many of these may seem costly, difficult to execute, and their impact uncertain. However, economic analysis suggests their costs will be trivial in comparison to the trillions of dollars of impact due to COVID-19, let alone the rising tide of future diseases.

The scientific evidence reviewed here, and the societal and economic impacts of COVID-19 provide a powerful incentive to adopt these policy options and create the transformative change needed to prevent future pandemics. This will provide benefits to health, biodiversity conservation, our economies, and sustainable development. Above all, it will provide a vision of our future in which we have escaped the current ‘Pandemic Era’.  

Enabling mechanisms and the role of the Rio conventions:

• Launching a high-level intergovernmental council on pandemic prevention, that would provide for cooperation among governments and work at the crossroads of the three Rio conventions to: 1) provide policy-relevant scientific information on the emergence of diseases, predict high-risk areas, evaluate economic impact of potential pandemics, highlight research gaps; and 2) coordinate the design of a monitoring framework, and possibly lay the groundwork for an agreement on goals and targets to be met by all partners for implementing the One Health approach (i.e. one that links human health, animal health and environmental sectors).

A high-level coordinating structure that is stable over time, funded by country contributions, and with a clear mandate to use One Health approaches to prevent pandemics, could ensure the necessary synergies to institutionalize a global strategy to break free of the Pandemic Era. This "high level council" could work at the crossroads of the activities and actions of the three Rio conventions, while having strong links with the other biodiversity conventions, including CITES and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.

NOTE: The report, its recommendations and conclusions have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by the member States of IPBES – it represents the expertise and perspectives of the experts who participated in the workshop, listed here in full:

📚 Word of the Week - Ecosystem restoration

Ecosystem restoration means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact. Healthier ecosystems, with richer biodiversity, yield greater benefits such as more fertile soils, bigger yields of timber and fish, and larger stores of greenhouse gases. 

Restoration can happen in many ways – for example through actively planting or by removing pressures so that nature can recover on its own. It is not always possible – or desirable – to return an ecosystem to its original state. We still need farmland and infrastructure on land that was once forest, for instance, and ecosystems, like societies, need to adapt to a changing climate.

Between now and 2030, the restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems could generate US$9 trillion in ecosystem services. Restoration could also remove 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The economic benefits of such interventions exceed ten times the cost of investment, whereas inaction is at least three times more costly than ecosystem restoration. (Source)

There is increased political and scientific attention for land and ecosystem restoration, and 2021 will see the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This attention comes from the multiple benefits that restoration provides and has translated into a large number of countries setting restoration goals and commitments under different UN Conventions and other initiatives. New policy brief provides an inventory of these national commitments and provides an estimate of the total current global restoration ambition level, where these commitments are located, geographically, and what they entail. Finally, it provides insights into where and how to improve future national plans for restoration. Restoration is seeing increased attention from multiple angles. There is increasing global attention and ambition for restoration of land and ecosystems.

There is an increasing attention for the possible role of ecosystem restoration, including improved land management, in realising global sustainability ambitions (Suding et al., 2015; Chazdon et al., 2017). These ambitions are expressed in the goals and targets of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. These three conventions are the Rio Conventions, agreed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. Restoration
ambitions are also included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in various other international and regional agreements and initiatives.

The increased attention for restoration follows a number of high-level reports that highlight the extent and impact of climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss.

This is exemplified by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment (2018), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land (2019), and the first edition of the Global Land Outlook by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) (2017), as well as much-discussed journal articles on reforestation potential and the role of nature-based solutions in tackling climate change (Bastin et al., 2019; Griscom et al., 2017; Roe et al., 2019; Strassburg et al., 2019).

Furthermore, a number of initiatives have arisen to build knowledge networks and capacity development, such as the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (2003),the Bonn Challenge (2011) and New York Declaration on Forests (2014). Most recently, the United Nations (UN) has declared the years between 2021 and 2030 as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, jointly led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), supported by collaborating agencies including the three Rio Conventions, other international conventions, and regional partners including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).(Source:Goals and Commitments for the Restoration Decade. A global overview of countries’ restoration commitments under the Rio Conventions and other pledges )

Publications, articles and more about ecosystem restorationland investment ; land restoration ; ecological degradation ; consumption and land use ; fashion ; fibre ; food loss ; food security ; food waste  from UNCCD Library

📚 Word of the Week - Innovations

An innovation is something original and more effective and, as a consequence, new, that "breaks into" the market or society. An innovation is an idea that has been transformed into practical reality. For a business, this is a product, process, or business concept, or combinations that have been activated in the marketplace and produce new profits and growth for the organization. Innovation is most commonly associated with business and technology, but it happens in any field where people introduce change, including the arts, medicine, politics, cooking, language—even philosophy and religion.

“The agriculture industry has experienced a massive technological shift..” “Precision agriculture involves big data, drones, sensors, and farm management software …  Environmental controls, cellular agriculture (micro farms), smart packaging technology, gene manipulation, and e-grocer businesses have also pushed the entire agricultural business world into the computer age.”These innovative practices and technologies may very well prove to be more than just the future of farming and agriculture — they may be the very keys to the survival of the human race. (Source: 5 Innovative Agricultural Practices That Are Changing the World)

Innovation in food production is needed, and it needs to be adopted on a wide scale. The agricultural innovations needed will necessarily raise productivity and water-use efficiency of crops, while protecting the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from farming.

The food and agriculture sector is expected to provide healthy, safe and nutritious food for a growing population, while at the same time supplying feed for more and more farm animals, and furnishing fibre and fuel and other bio-based products for a range of industrial uses. The sector must also use natural resources more sustainabily to preserve available land, water, and biodiversity resources, and respond to climate change. To meet these challenges and respond to opportunities, the sector will need to embrace innovative approaches to improve productivity in a sutainable manner.

At the farm level, many innovations are “process innovations” as they relate to improving production techniques; for example, adopting improving seeds or irrigation systems. Downstream industries also innovate new and improved products, such as functional attributes for food (health) or in the chemical or pharmaceutical industry (bioeconomy). All along the the supply chain, marketing and organisational innovations are increasingly important.

OECD work on innovation systems in food and agriculture explores the relationships between innovation, productivity and sustainability, and examines the respective roles for the government and the private sector in strengthening agricultural innovation systems and facilitating adoption of more innovative practices at the farm and agri-food firm level. As part of this work, we have developed a framework to review the impacts of a wide range of policies on the creation and adoption of innovations needed to increase productivity and sustainability in food and agriculture, leading to concrete recommendations for each policy area. (Source)

In agriculture "innovation is an imperative" but it should not be considered as an objective itself. Innovation should rather serve as means to reach our shared goals: to eliminate poverty and hunger and respond to the challenges listed above. Therefore, we should ensure that innovations are available, accessible and affordable also in the most remote areas, and for the poorest of the poor. In the least developed countries priority should be given to those innovations that are focusing on the basic needs. In any way, innovations should be inclusive and follow the participatory approach. (Source Innovation Is an Imperative – for Sustainable Food Systems)

Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires a radical shift in the way food is produced, transformed and consumed. It is essential to innovate and attract the investments that are necessary to accelerate agricultural transformation and make agriculture an attractive business for farmers, in particular youth and women. Not all innovations contribute to achieving sustainable development goals in the same way. For innovation to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it must improve :

  • productivity; equity and sustainability resource use efficiency (particularly land and water); and,
  • and green energy sources);
  • the adaptation of food systems to climate change, equity and sustainability.
  • It must also help reduce losses and waste and
  • improve the production and consumption of more nutritious food.
  • It must also help the economic development that would lift smallholder farmers out of poverty, reducing their vulnerability and building their capacity to participate actively in their country’s economy.

In particular, innovation should provide women and youth with new and more rewarding opportunities for decent employment in agriculture and along the food chain.(Source International Forum on Innovation in Agriculture and Food Systems for achieving the SDGs)

Through its investment projects and grants across the regions, IFAD has generated numerous innovative technologies, approaches and tools that provide solutions that contribute to the achievement of food and nutrition security and are targeted to addressing the challenges of climate change, natural resource management, youth unemployment, rural markets, empowerment of rural women, among others, and thereby also contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A set of 23 innovations from more than 10 countries in the ESA region that were shared during the Nairobi event have been documented in this Catalogue of Innovations. Enhancing Smallholder Agriculture and Food System Resilience. East and Southern Africa

Publications, articles and more about  innovations, innovative financeinnovative technologiesinvestment opportunities  from UNCCD Library

📚 Word of the Week - Land and soil health

The health and productivity of global land resources are declining, while demand for those resources is increasing. The aim of land degradation neutrality (LDN) is to maintain or enhance land-based natural capital and its associated ecosystem services. The Scientific Conceptual Framework for Land Degradation Neutrality has been developed to provide a scientific approach to planning, implementing and monitoring LDN. The Science-Policy Interface of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) led the development of the conceptual framework, drawing in expertise from a diverse range of disciplines.

  • The LDN conceptual framework focuses on the supporting processes required to deliver LDN, including biophysical and socio-economic aspects, and their interactions. Neutrality implies no net loss of the land-based natural capital relative to a reference state, or baseline. Planning for neutrality involves projecting the likely cumulative impacts of land use and land management decisions, then counterbalancing anticipated losses with measures to achieve equivalent gains. Counterbalancing should occur only within individual land types, distinguished by land potential, to ensure “like for like” exchanges.
  • Actions to achieve LDN include sustainable land management (SLM) practices that avoid or reduce degradation, coupled with efforts to reverse degradation through restoration or rehabilitation of degraded land. T
  • he response hierarchy of Avoid > Reduce > Reverse land degradation articulates the priorities in planning LDN interventions. The implementation of LDN is managed at the landscape level through integrated land use planning, while achievement is assessed at national level.

Monitoring LDN status involves quantifying the balance between the area of gains (significant positive changes in LDN indicators) and area of losses (significant negative changes in LDN indicators), within each land type across the landscape. The LDN indicators (and associated metrics) are land cover (physical land cover class), land productivity (net primary productivity, NPP) and carbon stocks (soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks). Land in balance: The scientific conceptual framework for Land Degradation Neutrality (Source)

Soil health is defined as “the capacity of soil to function as a vital living system, within ecosystem and land-use boundaries, to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and promote plant and animal health” (Doran and Zeiss, 2000) Source

Healthy soils are the basis for the food we grow and for balanced ecosystems that provide clean water, biodiversity and nutrient recycling. Soils are important for our well-being, which is why they need to be preserved and nurtured. 

As part of Horizon Europe, the EU research and innovation programme for 2021-2027, the European Commission is setting up “missions” tackling areas of wide societal relevance. Members of the Soil health and food Mission Board have proposed the mission ‘Caring for soil is caring for life’. Its goal is to raise awareness on the importance of soils and to develop solutions for sustainable soil management.(Source)

Soil, a natural four‐dimensional body at the atmosphere–lithosphere interface, is organic‐carbon‐mediated realm in which solid, liquid, and gaseous phases interact at a range of scales and generate numerous ecosystem goods and services. Soil organic carbon (SOC) strongly impacts soil quality, functionality and health.

Terms soil quality and soil health should not be used interchangeable. Soil quality is related to what it does (functions), whereas soil health treats soil as a living biological entity that affects plant health. Through plant growth, soil health is also connected with the health of animals, humans, and ecosystems within its domain. Through supply of macro‐ and micronutrients, soil health, mediated by SOC dynamics is a strong determinant of global food and nutritional security. Soil C pool consists of two related but distinct components: SOC and soil inorganic C (SIC). The SIC pool comprises of primary and secondary carbonates, and the latter consists of calcitic (no net sequestration of atmospheric CO2) and silicatic (net sequestration). (Source)

Land and soil continue to be subject to severe degradation in the EU7.

  • 12.7% of Europe is affected by moderate to high erosion, causing an estimated loss of agricultural production in the EU of €1.25 billion per year.
  • Organic carbon stocks in cropland topsoils are declining. The extent of wetland and peatland in the EU has been steadily decreasing with around half of peatlands in the EU now drained and two thirds of European wetlands lost since the beginning of the 20th century. Loss of wetland and peatland has been mostly caused by land conversion for agriculture use. Also, climate change and unsustainable forest management lead to carbon losses from forest biomass and soils.
  • Local pollution is also present in all countries and 14% of an estimated total of 2.8 million potentially polluted sites from industrial activities are expected to require remediation, that is 390 000 sites. By 2018, only some 65 500 of these sites were remediated.
  • Diffuse soil contamination by atmospheric depositions, pesticides, antibiotics, excess fertilisers, microplastics, sewage sludge and other waste disposed of on land is widespread.
  • Land take and soil sealing continue predominantly at the expense of agricultural land at an annual net land take estimated at 440 km²/year in the period 2012-2018. The target of no net land take by 2050 is unlikely to be met unless annual rates of land take are reduced and land recycling increased.
  • Intensive land management and land use change negatively impacted in recent decades soil biodiversity such as the species richness of earthworms, springtails and mites.
  • In Southern, Central and Eastern Europe 25% of soils show high or very high risk of desertification corresponding to about 411 000 km².
  • Large parts of Southern Europe are likely to become desertified by 2050 as a result of climate change and inappropriate agricultural practices.
  • Salinisation affects 3.8 million ha in the EU, with severe soil salinity along the coastlines, particularly in the Mediterranean. While naturally saline soils occur, inappropriate irrigation practices, poor drainage conditions or the use of salt for de‐icing roads induce anthropogenic salinisation.

The underlying drivers of soil degradation are in general not projected to change favourably compared to current status, so the functionality of soils and land will come even under more pressure. The competition and claims on this declining, finite and degrading natural resource will only increase in the future without additional policy measures. New Soil Strategy - healthy soil for a healthy life

Key facts about soils:

  • Soil is a living resource, home to more than one quarter (25%) of our planet’s biodiversity.
  • Up to 90% of living organisms live or spent part of their lifecycle in soils, yet we know only 1% of this hidden universe.
  • Soil organisms work 365/24/7 in a coordinated effort to sustain life on Earth.
  • Soil biodiversity is an essential component of soil health.
  • Healthy soils produces more nutritious and safer food.
  • 95% of our food comes from soils.
  • Soils organisms help soils store carbon and reduce GHG emissions.
  • Soil biodiversity contributes to the remediation of soil pollution by breaking down contaminants.
  • Soils are vast, vital pharmacies.
  • Did you know that almost all of the antibiotics that we take to help us fight infections were made using soil micro-organisms?
  • In just 3 inches of soil, there are 13 quadrillion living organisms, weighing 100 million tonnes. 
  • One hectare of soil contains the weight equivalent of two cows of bacteria. 
  • There are more organisms in one gram of healthy soils than there are people on Earth. 
  • An earthworm can digest its own weight in soil every 24 hours. 50% of the planet soil passes through the gut of earthworms each year.
  • Soil organisms process 25,000 kg of organic matter in a surface area equivalent to a soccer field, which is the weight of 25 cars.  (Source FAO)

Degradation of land health – the capacity of land, relative to its potential, to sustain delivery of ecosystem services – is recognized as a major global problem in general terms, but remains poorly quantified, resulting in a lack of specific evidence to focus action. Land health surveillance and response: A framework for evidence-informed land management

📚 Word of the Week - Soil erosion

 Soil erosion is one of the ten major soil threats identified in the 2015 Status of the World’s Soil Resources report. It is defined as the accelerated removal of topsoil from the land surface through water, wind and tillage.

Soil erosion occurs naturally under all climatic conditions and on all continents, but it is significantly increased and accelerated by unsustainable human activities (up to 1 000 times) through intensive agriculture, deforestation, overgrazing and improper land use changes.

Soil erosion rates are much higher than soil formation rates. Soil is a finite resource, meaning its loss and degradation is not recoverable within a human lifespan. (Source)

  • Soil erosion affects soil health and productivity by removing the highly fertile topsoil and exposing the remaining soil.
  • Soil erosion decreases agricultural productivity, degrades ecosystem functions, amplifies hydrogeological risk such as landslides or floods, causes significant losses in biodiversity, damage to urban infrastructure and, in severe cases, leads to displacement of human populations.
  • Soil erosion can affect the infiltration, storage and drainage of water in the soil, resulting in waterlogging and water scarcity. In agriculture, we estimate that soil erosion can lead up to 50 percent loss in crop yields. 
  • Although soil erosion has a direct impact on farmers, it also has effects outside of agriculture. It has implications for our environment and health including on water quality, the energy sector, urban infrastructure, and our landscapes.  For example, sediments associated with soil particles displaced by wind and water can lead to off-site soil and water pollution. Soil erosion affects us all.
  • Soil erosion and land degradation pose a major threat to global food security and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) –compromising the well-being of at least 3.2 billion people around the world.
  • Because 95 percent of the food we eat comes from the soil, soil erosion mitigation through the application of Sustainable Soil Management (SSM) is critical for protecting our soil while ensuring a sustainable and food secure world. (Source)

Key figures on soil erosion

  1. It can take up to 1 000 years to produce just 2-3 cm of soil.
  2. 33% of the Earth's soils are already degraded and over 90% could become degraded by 2050 (FAO and ITPS, 2015; IPBES, 2018).
  3. The equivalent of one soccer pitch of soil is eroded every five seconds. (FAO and ITPS, 2015).
  4. Estimated rates of accelerated soil erosion on arable or intensively grazed lands are 100-1 000 times higher than natural erosion rates.
  5. Soil erosion can lead up to 50% loss in crop yields.   
  6. The economic cost of soil degradation for the European Union is estimated to be in the order of tens of billions of euros annually. (Source)

Publications, articles and more about on soil erosion, soil health, soil pollution ; land health, soil sealing, soil contamination ; sustainable soil management  from UNCCD Library

📚 Fact of the Month December 2020 - About 1.2 billion people don’t have access to electricity, mainly in rural areas, and 600 million of them are concentrated in Africa

Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential. Sustainable energy is an opportunity too as it fuels lives, economies and the planet. Getting sustainable energy to all who want it represents one of the biggest development challenges of the 21st century. (Source)

The 7th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG7) aims at ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services and substantially increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030.

According to the UN, energy accounts for around 60% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, which makes it the main factor of climate change. More than 2.7 billion of people in the world still rely on wood, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating, and biomass-induced air pollution causes about 1.3 million deaths each year (mainly women and children). Additionally, about 1.2 billion people don’t have access to electricity, mainly in rural areas, and 600 million of them are concentrated in Africa. (Source)

The world is making progress towards Goal 7 with encouraging signs that energy is becoming more sustainable and widely available. Access to electricity in poorer countries has begun to accelerate, energy efficiency continues to improve, and renewable energy is making impressive gains in the electricity sector. Nevertheless, more focused attention is needed to improve access to clean and safe cooking fuels and technologies for 3 billion people, to expand the use of renewable energy beyond the electricity sector, and to increase electrification in sub-Saharan Africa. In that region, only 44 per cent of the population had access, and an estimated 573 million people still lacked electricity.

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 people now have access to electricity, but reaching the unserved will require increased efforts.
  • Three billion people still lack clean cooking fuels and technologies, posing a grave threat to human health and the environment, resulting in nearly 4 million premature deaths each year. The lack of cleaner fuels and technologies remains a major contributor to poor health and environmental degradation in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Progress in the electricity sector must extend to transportation and heating to meet an ambitious renewable energy target.

However, electricity makes up only 20 per cent of final energy use. The remaining 80 per cent is concentrated in the heat and transport sectors, where modern renewables penetrated only 9 per cent and 3.3 per cent of the global market, respectively, in 2016. Meeting the ambitious SDG target will require increased policy attention to the deployment of modern renewables in both of these key sectors. (Source) ;

By 2030, there are around 660 million people who do not have access to electricity - approximately 35 million more people than in our projections from last year for the World Energy Outlook-2019 (Source)

📚 Word of the Week - Renewable energy

Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, including carbon neutral sources like sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. The term often also encompasses biomass as well, whose carbon neutral status is under debate.(Source)

Renewable energy sources may be the only smart choice for scaling up energy provision and meeting demand, particularly in poor rural communities, in a time of climate change. A key question is whether we can afford to use available productive land for agriculture or water for human use to provide renewable energy and power. The adequate supply of productive land is, at least, as important as the reliable supply of energy; and the fact is that the exploitation of renewables can have unintended consequences.

Energy production and delivery require lots of water and land; water supply and irrigation requires energy and land; and land-based activities such as agriculture and forestry depend upon the availability of energy and water. Energy security, for example, is threatened by the lack of available water resources for thermoelectric power and hydropower plants. Energy production intensifies the competition between different uses of land (e.g. food vs. biofuels) and can jeopardize the quality of the land for future use.

Land, water and energy as resources are all pillars of our survival and of sustainable development. They stand or fall together. To be sustainable and in particular to reach poor rural populations, we need to enhance supply, access and security across all three pillars, at the same time, while supporting global climate ambitions. (Source)

Energy for all and land degradation neutrality: Two sides of the same coin. Securing life on land (goal 15) and the provision of reliable, sustainable energy (goal 7) feature highly in the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. It is clear that done right, these goals are complementary. Given that energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are rising while the atmosphere’s sink capacity is finite, the world certainly needs to move from a high-carbon to a low-carbon lifestyle, while still providing the required energy services for inclusive and sustainable growth.

The fact is, land-based renewable energy sources such as biofuels, biomass and hydropower may be deemed more “climate friendly”, but this does not, in itself, guarantee environmental sustainability. The production of renewable energy requires the use of additional land and water, which can affect the availability of these resources for current and future generations, especially in combination with the effects of climate change, population growth and food security.

The key to securing the double benefit of climate change mitigation and energy security, particularly in the developing world, is the sustainable and equitable management of land. Increased future demands for food, fibre and fuels from biomass can only be met if the available land and water resources on a global scale are used and managed in the most efficient manner and vice versa. (Source)

International financing for renewable energy in developing countries is rising sharply. From 2000 to 2009, official international financing commitments for clean and renewable energy in developing countries ranged from $1 billion to $4 billion a year. Commitments rose to $9.9 billion in 2010 and to $18.6 billion by 2016, a tenfold increase from the early 2000s. Yearly financial flows fluctuated greatly, mainly due to the timing of large-scale hydropower investments. But overall, the share of hydropower in the total flow fell from 60 per cent between 2000 and 2009 to around 40 per cent between 2010 and 2016, while the shares of wind, geothermal and, especially, solar energy, increased. Average project size also grew from an average of $10 million per project between 2000 and 2009 to $19 million between 2014 and 2016.  (Source)

The least expensive way to achieve universal electricity access in many areas appears to be renewable energy sources: in addition to increasing grid-connected electricity generation from renewables, declining costs of small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) for stand-alone systems and mini-grids is key in helping deliver affordable electricity access to millions. This is especially the case in remote rural areas in African countries, home to many of the people still deprived of electricity access. Decentralised solutions as a whole are the least-cost way to provide power to more than half of the population gaining access by 2030 according to our Sustainable Development Scenario. (Source)

Desert to Power Initiative
The Sahel could become the world's primary solar led region. The African Bank of Development has launched the « Solar to Desert » initiative that will provide 10 GW of solar energy by 2025 and supply 250 million people with green electricity. The initiative covers 11 countries of the Sahelian strip : Senegal, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopa and Djibouti. Currently, 64% of the population in the Sahel lives without
electricity, which is a major obstacle to development, while access to clean energy could greatly reduce poverty and youth unemployment while reinforcing the objectives of the Paris Agreement. This project will create jobs and attract the private sector in the area of renewable energy. The project therefore has the potential to increase the participation of women.

Publications, articles and more about on renewable energy ;  energy ;  renewable*  from UNCCD Library

Renewable capacity expansion accounted for at least 70% of total power capacity expansion in almost all regions last year – with Africa and Middle East being the only two exceptions, with renewables accounting for only 52% and 26% respectively. 

Within the renewable energy sector itself, solar and wind accounted for 90% of all new renewable capacity additions in 2019. Specifically, solar added 98GW in 2019 – 60% of which was installed throughout Asia – whereas wind energy installed 60GW, led again by China which installed 26GW, and followed a distant second by the United States which installed 9GW.

Solar and wind now generate 623GW and 586GW respectively – close to half of all global renewable energy capacity. Regionally, Asia saw renewable energy capacity expansion grow at a slightly slower pace than in 2018, responsible for over half of all new installations with 95.5GW of new capacity. Growth in Europe and North America also increased year-on-year, up 35.3GW and 22.3GW respectively.

Africa installed only 2GW of new renewable energy capacity in 2019, only half what it installed in 2018, while the Middle East installed 2.5GW. Oceania, with cumulative capacity of 40GW, installed 6.2GW of new capacity in 2019.

The report provides a comprehensive analysis of commitments flowing to the two key areas of energy access: electrification and clean cooking. This fourth edition of the report tracks finance for electricity and clean cooking committed in 2018 to 20 Sub-Saharan African and Asian countries - known as the high-impact countries (HICs) - that together are home to more than 80 percent of people globally without energy access.

This report identifies the gaps between commitments and disbursements of development finance for energy, as tracked in the OECD Creditor Reporting System (CRS) database. To understand disbursement delays better, this study looked at evaluation reports and databases, and conducted interviews and surveys as part of deep-dives in five countries (India, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nigeria and Rwanda). (Source)

Key Findings
1. Access to electricity: Since 2010, more than a billion people have gained access to electricity, connecting 90% of the planet’s population in 2018 as a result. Yet 789 million people still live without electricity, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
2. Clean cooking: Almost 3 billion people remained without access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking, residing mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the 2010 to 2018 period, progress has remained largely stagnant, with the rate of population growth outpacing increase in access to clean cooking since 2012 in some countries.
3. Renewable energy: The share of renewables in the global energy mix reached 17.3% of final energy consumption in 2017, up from 16.3% in 2010. Renewables consumption (+2.5 percent in 2017) is growing faster than global energy consumption (+1.8 percent in 2017), continuing a trend in evidence since 2011. While renewables have seen an unprecedented uptake in the electricity sector over the last decade, the use of renewables in heating and transport sectors is lagging far behind potential.
4. Energy efficiency: Global primary energy intensity improved by 1.7% in 2017. That is better than the 1.3% average rate of progress between 1990 and 2010, but still well below the original target rate of 2.6%, and a marked slowdown from the previous two years.
5. International financial flows: International public financial flows to developing countries in support of clean and renewable energy doubled since 2010, reaching $21.4 billion in 2017. These flows mask important disparities with only 12% of flows in 2017 reaching those most in need (least developed countries and small island developing states). Enhanced international cooperation is essential to bridge the gap. 

This report, co-developed by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Climate Policy initiative, provides actionable recommendations for policy makers and other stakeholders to scale up investment and mobilise capital in the sector. While global investments in renewable energy have risen steadily in recent years, they remain far below the levels required to put the world on course for a climate-safe future. From about USD 300 billion globally in recent years, annual investments in renewables must triple to USD 800 billion by 2050 to fulfil key global decarbonisation and climate goals.

Renewable energy has proven resilient and flexible amid the COVID-19 crisis, as well as providing a valuable opportunity to align economic recovery with sustainable development and climate goals. By placing renewables at the centre of stimulus plans, governments can attract investments, increase investor confidence, strengthen national energy strategies and fulfil climate pledges under the Paris Agreement.

Wind power is the cheapest way to produce electricity, but some are not persuaded. The World Bank is out to change minds. Europe and the United States now accept onshore wind power as the cheapest way to generate electricity. But this novel technology still needs subsidising before some developing countries will embrace it. Enter the World Bank.

A total of US$80 billion in subsidies from the Bank has gone over 25 years to 565 developing world onshore wind projects, to persuade governments to invest in renewables rather than rely on fossil fuels. Using data from the Global Wind Atlas, the Bank calculated that developing countries with shallow waters like India, Turkey and Sri Lanka had huge potential with fixed turbines, while others − the Philippines and South Africa, for example − would need floating foundations to reach greater depths, up to 1,000 metres.

📚 Word of the Week -  Nature-based solutions (NbS)

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are defined by IUCN as “actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems, that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”. Healthy ecosystems are the foundation upon which our societies and economies are built. Today, more than ever, we are reminded that to take care of ourselves, we must take care of the environment that sustains us. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the planet and led to a major call for transformative change. NbS are part and parcel of the global shift to build back better

Common ground: restoring land health for sustainable agriculture report, which highlighted the close links between landscape and soil biodiversity, farm yields, and farmers’ incomes and livelihoods  shows how more constructive inter-sectoral dialogue will help to build consensus around goals, targets and indicators for sustainable agriculture.

There is a solid common ground to be built upon, between the sectors of agriculture and conservation, on the need to restore land health.There are many examples of well-known and widely practiced agroecology approaches and we have moved beyond ‘proof of concept’ in several countries where practices like agroforestry, organic farming or conservation agriculture are growing in popularity. Meanwhile many governments have made commitments to sustainable agriculture and restoration of agricultural land.

IUCN has developed a Global Standard for NbS that will enable both the public and private sectors to design, implement and monitor NbS and accelerate society’s transition to a low carbon future. It is the first-ever tool that will help design robust, durable actions for deriving benefits for people and nature.The Global Standard is structured around eight criteria, ranging from biodiversity benefits and addressing societal challenges to criteria focused on governance, financial sustainability, and policy integration

Nature-based solutions could provide one third of net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions required to meet Paris Agreement goals. Warming beyond 1.5°C will substantially increase the risk of global species extinctions. The ocean is already warmer, more acidic and less productive. Around 7 million people die every year from exposure to polluted air. Bold climate action could deliver $26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030. Renewable energy is getting cheaper all the time. Switching to a clean economy could produce over 65 million new low-carbon jobs. An investment of $1.8 trillion from 2020 to 2030 in adaptation could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits.(Source)

Publications, articles and more about on nature-based solutions (NbS)  from UNCCD Library 

📚 Word of the Week -  Mountain ecosystems

Mountains cover roughly 27 per cent of the land surface of the planet and provide essential goods and services, such as water, food and energy.   

Between 60 and 80 per cent of the world’s freshwater comes from these regions, which also contain many crops and animals used for food and medicine. 

However, mountain ecosystems are frequently coming under pressure from changes to land use and climate, and because of other factors such as overexploitation and pollution, thus putting livelihoods and food security at risk.(Source)

Mountains matter to all of us. Here are some facts about why(Source)

1. Mountains not only provide direct sustenance to and enhance the well-being of 1.1 billion mountain people around the world, but also indirectly benefit billions more living downstream.

2. Mountains are home to 15 percent of the world’s population. Over 90 percent of the world’s mountain dwellers live in developing countries, and one in two mountain people in developing countries is food insecure.

3. Mountains provide 60-80 percent of the world's freshwater. Some of the world's largest cities, including Melbourne, Nairobi, New York, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo depend on mountains for freshwater.

4. Mountain communities produce an abundance of high-value and high-quality foods and products such as coffee, cocoa, honey, herbs, spices and handicrafts that improve livelihoods and boost local economies.

5. Mountain tourism accounts for 15–20 percent of the global tourism industry. They attract tourists for a wide-range of activities, including skiing, climbing, hiking and exploring.

6. Mountains play a key role in providing renewable energy, such as hydropower, solar power, wind power and biogas, for downstream cities and remote mountain communities. Hydropower provides around one-fifth of all electricity worldwide, and some countries rely almost exclusively on mountain regions for hydropower generation.

7. Six of the 20 plant species that supply most of the world's food originated in mountain areas. These valuable plants are maize, potatoes, barley, sorghum, quinoa, tomatoes and apples. It is difficult to imagine a nutritious diet without at least one of these foods.

8. Mountains hold cultural as well as natural significance. Recognizing this, UNESCO has designated many mountains World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves (areas designated for finding solutions between sustainable development and conservation of biodiversity). In fact, almost 60 percent of all Biosphere Reserves contain mountain ecosystems. Every year on 11 December, the world celebrates International Mountain Day.

New  FAO/UNCCD publication found that between 2000 and 2017, the number of mountain people vulnerable to food insecurity in developing countries grew from 243 million to almost 350 million. 

“One in every two rural mountain people in developing countries do not have enough food to live a healthy life and they are now dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Source "Vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity: updated data and analysis of drivers" .The vulnerability to food insecurity of the mountain people in the developing world is compounded by the presence and occurrence of natural hazards and armed conflicts that disrupt livelihoods or put strain on the natural resources on which mountain people depend”, the study concluded. 

Publications and articles on mountain ecosystems, mountain communities,  from UNCCD Library