Back to search

Fact of the Month - Word of the Week

wcloud

 

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 - April 2021 -  A WHO report on the burden of disease from environmental risks analysed the 133 diseases listed in the WHO’s Global Health Observatory and found 101 linked to the environment

The diseases with the largest environmental fraction (in dalys, which combine years of life lost and years lived with disability for comparability of disease burden across diseases) include cardiovascular diseases, diarrhoeal diseases and lower respiratory infections. ambient and household air pollution, and water, sanitation and hygiene are the main environmental drivers of those diseases.

Mortality and burden of disease from unhealthy environments: In 2016, 13.7 million people died as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment, representing 24% of all deaths. When accounting for both death and disability, the fraction of the global burden of disease due to the environment is 23%. In children under five years, up to 28% of all deaths could be prevented, if environmental risks were removed. 68% of these attributable deaths and 51% of attributable DALYs could be estimated with evidence-based comparative risk assessment methods, the impacts of other environmental exposures were assessed through expert opinion.

  • An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments
  • 24% of all estimated global deaths are linked to the environment ...That’s roughly 13.7 million deaths a year Infographic
  • Children under five and adults between 50 and 75 years old are most affected by the environment.
  • Low- and middle-income countries bear the greatest share of environmental disease.
  • In 2016, household air pollution was responsible for 3.8 million deaths, and 7.7% of the global mortality(Source)
  • Globally, more than 820 million people have insufficient food, leading to malnutrition and the risk of infectious diseases.  
  • An even larger number of people consume an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death and morbidity from noncommunicable diseases. Both these extremes occur while pressures on food systems increase (Willett et al., 2019). As populations increase and standards of living and nutrition improve, the demand for food will continue to rise.
  • The current world population is 7.6 million and is projected to increase to 8.6 billion in 2030, and 9.8 billion in 2050.
  • The population of sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is projected to grow by 124 per cent in the same period (UN/DESA, 2019b). The challenge is how to produce more food, of better nutritional quality, to an increasing population, but without further stressing the land.
  • The relationship between poverty, DLDD and health is well established. In 2015, 736 million people lived in extreme poverty, with 80 per cent in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, two billion rural people live on poor agricultural land.
  • Food shortage related impacts on nutrition are some of the most direct DLDD impacts on human health, especially in low-income countries.
  • Strategies to avoid land degradation and to ensure land sustainability and land restoration would protect and promote health in the long term (WHO/WPRO, 2017).Table 8.Health sector actions needed to respond to DLDD challenges (Source Land Under Pressure – Health Under Stress(UNCCD GLO paper)
  • Dust storms were associated with global cardiopulmonary mortality of about 402,000 people in 2005 with 3.47 million years of life lost in that single year. Although globally only 1.8% of cardiopulmonary deaths were caused by dust storms, in the countries of the Sahara region, Middle East, South and East Asia, dust storms were suggested to be the cause of 15–50% of all cardiopulmonary deaths ( Source )

WHO study Preventing disease through healthy environments. A global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks provides an approximate estimate of how much disease can be prevented by reducing the environmental risks to health.

  • it includes a meta-synthesis of key evidence relating diseases and injuries to the environment.
  • it brings together quantitative estimates of the disease burden attributable to the environment using a combination of approaches that includes cra, epidemiological data, transmission pathways and expert opinion.
  • the synthesis of evidence linking 133 diseases and injuries, or their groupings, to the environment has been reviewed to provide an overall picture of the disease burden that could be prevented through healthier environments.
  • environmental risks to health are defined, in this study, as “all the physical, chemical and biological factors external to a person, and all related behaviours, but excluding those natural environments that cannot reasonably be modified.”(Source) WHO Public health and environment
  • World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that environmental stressors are responsible for 12–18 % of all deaths in the 53 countries of the WHO Europe Region. Improving the quality of the environment in key areas such as air, water and noise can prevent disease and improve human health.(Source)

Air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk in Europe, and is associated with heart disease, stroke, lung disease and lung cancer. Exposure to air pollution is estimated to result in over 400 000 premature deaths in the EU each year.

Further reading from UNCCD library ;  

📚 Word of the Week - Forests restoration

The global forest area in 2020 is estimated at 4.06 billion ha, which is 31 percent of the total land area.This area is equivalent to 0.52 ha of forest per capita,  although forests are not distributed equally among the world’s people or geographically.

Forty-five percent of the world’s forests are in the tropical domain, followed by the boreal (27 percent), temperate (16 percent) and subtropical (11 percent) domains (Figure 5). Table 2 shows the distribution of forest area at the regional and sub regional levels. Europe accounts for 25 percent of the world’s forest area, followed by South America (21 percent), North and Central America (19 percent), Africa (16 percent), Asia (15 percent) and Oceania (5 percent). More than half (54 percent) of the world’s forest area is in only five countries – the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China. The ten countries with the largest forest area account for about two thirds (66 percent) of the world total (Table 3). (Source)

The World Bank estimates that up to 150 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty this year. Forest ecosystems deliver goods and services across seasons and years that support the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people-a crucial safety net for local populations in times of hardship.

The sustainable use of biodiversity needs to be part of the blue print for‘ Building Back Better’. Global recovery programs must have strong environmental safeguards in place and make full use of the opportunities in the forest sector to reset economies on a greener track. (Source)

Forests cover 31 percent of the world’s land surface, store an estimated 296 gigatonnes of carbon and are home to the majority of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Forests are a source of fibre, fuel, food and fodder, and they provide livelihoods for millions of people, including many of the world’s poorest.

Some 2.4 billion people use wood-based energy for cooking. Forests help mitigate climate change and improve soil, air and water quality. If sustainably managed, forests are also a source of renewable raw materials, making a crucial contribution to building circular economies. (Source)

This past decade has seen remarkable progress in actions to conserve and restore biodiversity and promote its sustainable use. However, these efforts are still widely insufficient to “bend the curve” of biodiversity loss, especially in forest ecosystems. Forest habitat fragmentation and encroachment promotes new interfaces between humans as well as domestic and wild animals which can lead to the emergence of communicable diseases like COVID-19.

By protecting and restoring forests, we guard ourselves against new viruses that could be transmitted to humans. The pandemic has also created an unprecedented economic crisis, that reinforces inequalities by disproportionally affecting the poorest and most vulnerable populations.

The world is still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. Societies and economies need to confront huge challenges, such as putting our economies back on track, reducing poverty and inequalities, while addressing the impending climate and biodiversity crisis.

Forest restoration provides a common answer to all these issues. It can generate employment, benefit livelihoods, provide habitat for threatened species, sequester carbon and mitigate the effects of climate change. Restoring 350 million hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 could remove 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and generate ecosystem services valued at $9 trillion. More than 1 billion people depend on forest foods and 2.4 billion people use fuelwood or charcoal to cook their daily meals, noted the Director General. "Forests are also green pharmacies. In developing countries, up to 80 percent of all medicinal drugs are plant-based."  

"Restoring forests - and managing them more sustainably - is a cost-effective option to provide multiple benefits for both people and the planet. Investments in forest restoration", "will contribute to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by creating green jobs, generating livelihoods, greening cities, and increasing food security."(FAO)

Further reading from UNCCD library ; forest restoration ; forests  

📚 Word of the Week - Drylands forests/ Forests in drylands

You might not expect it, but over 25 percent of the world’s forests are in drylands!  Trees are present on almost a third of the world's dryland regions, equalling 1.1 billion hectares of forest, according to FAO’s latest Dryland Assessment

Covering 41 percent of the global land area and home to 2.7 billion people, drylands supply about 60 percent of the world's food production and support more than a quarter of our forests and woodlands, according to Building climate-resilient dryland forests and agrosilvopastoral production systems
With four billion people projected to be living in drylands by 2050, there is a need to ensure the sustainability of food production systems under climate change and after COVID-19, which includes giving a greater voice to marginalized dryland populations.

Drylands, comprising hyper arid, arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid zones, cover about 6.1 billion hectares, or 41 percent of the Earth's land surface. Of these, some 1.1 billion hectares (18 percent) consist of forest, according to FAO's assessment. 

Globally, about 18 percent of drylands are forest, just over half of which have canopy density above 70 percent, while barren land accounts for 28 percent, grassland 25 percent and cropland 14 percent. Trees are also present on drylands outside of forests, notably in Asia and Europe, and all told there are trees on some 2 billion hectares of drylands.

  • Drylands are home to an estimated 2 billion people, half the world's livestock, and more than a third of global biodiversity hotspots, and provide critical migration points for birds.
  • Their ecosystems are vulnerable to water shortage, drought, desertification, land degradation and climate change impacts.
  • The world's drylands are expected to expand by 10 to 23 percent by the end of the 21st century, with dangerous ramifications for food security, livelihoods and human welfare. (Source)

The process of land degradation is particularly acute in the drylands, which are home to more than 2 billion people and contain 44 percent of the world's agriculturally productive land.

  • Drylands also host an impressive array of biodiversity, from the vital bacteria thriving in the soil to the livestock farmers depending on dryland resources to nourish the herd.
  • Accounting for more than 40 percent of the global terrestrial area, dryland landscapes are important to the functioning of many ecosystem services. (Source
  • Drylands are home to more than 2 billion people and contain 44% of the world’s agricultural land that supports over half of the world’s food production.
  • Drylands also host the most fragile ecosystems on the planet, including a quarter of all global biodiversity hot spots and many threatened and endemic species.
  • Drylands provide much of the world’s grain and livestock, many tree products and vegetable species, as well as globally important agro-biodiversity.
  • Climate change, a growing population, and especially overgrazing of rangelands will exacerbate problems in dryland areas and further induce land degradation, negatively affecting the livelihoods of its inhabitants, including 600 million smallholder farmers.

Investing in the sustainable management of drylands is becoming ever more urgent, given the convergence of a number of global trends: high population growth rates; increasing water scarcity, sometimes exacerbated by climate change; increasing food insecurity; out-migrations of young people; loss of cultural heritage; and decreasing habitats for wild species with detrimental effects for biodiversity. Such forces are highlighting the value of healthy drylands to the world, and their role in a secure global future. (Source)

  • FAO also released a new issue of Unasylva exploring the role of forests as nature-based solutions for water management. Its key message is that forested watersheds provide an estimated 75 percent of the world's accessible freshwater resources and thus constitute are crucial and cost-effective natural infrastructure for the production of high-quality water - including for cities - for more than half the world population. Their management for water will become increasingly important in the face of climate change.

Poor crop and soil management, and habitat destruction undermine the ability of drylands biodiversity to perform nutrient recycling, and water storage and filtration services.

  • On severely degraded land – devoid of biodiversity – as little as 5% of total rainfall may be used productively.
  • An estimated 20 million hectares of fertile land is degraded every year, and in the next 25 years global food production could fall by up to 12% as a result of land degradation – threatening the food and water security of the rising human population (Source; SourceDrylands facts and figures  

Trees and forests in drylands generate a wealth of environmental services, they provide habitats for biodiversity, protect against water and wind erosion and desertification, help water infiltrate soils and contribute to soil fertility.

  • Trees and forests in drylands help increase the resilience of landscapes and communities in the face of climate change.
  • Drylands contain 1.11 billion hectares of forests (18% of the global drylands area and 27% of the global forest area), 1.8 billion of grasslands (31% of the global dryland area), 0.86 billion hectares of cropland (14% of the global dryland area). 
  • Trees are present on 1.9 billion ha of the world’s drylands.
  • The long-term sustainability of dryland forests is in jeopardy due to population increase, growing demand for natural resources, poverty, social conflicts, lack of market opportunities and technical capacity, lack of appropriate policies, governance and investments and lack of integration among different sectors.
  • Climate change affects dryland forests and people as it exacerbates all these negative human-related factors.   (Source)  FAO. 2019. Trees, forests and land use in drylands: the first global assessment Full report. FAO Forestry Paper No. 184.

Local financing mechanisms for Forest and Landscape Restoration highlights financing opportunities for restoration that support local-level actors, including smallholder farmers, foresters and landowners.  

Further reading from UNCCD library ;  drylands  

📚 Word of the Week - Drought tolerant crops

Drought tolerance is the ability to which a plant maintains its biomass production during arid or drought conditions. Other plants, specifically crops like corn, wheat, and rice, have become increasingly tolerant to drought with new varieties created via genetic engineering. Staple food crops like sorghum, cassava, sweet potato, pearl millet, cowpea and groundnut are naturally more drought-tolerant than maize. For centuries, farmers in parts of West Africa have grown maize alongside cassava and sweet potatoes

📚 Word of the Week - Drought resilience

Nowadays drought is more often viewed as a natural event that requires society to take a pro-active preparedness approach to reduce societal vulnerability and increase resilience to drought [4]. As with any natural disaster, addressing drought should not be focused solely on managing the crisis, but needs to encompass the full cycle of disaster management.

A pro-active approach to increasing drought resilience is centred on better management of land and water resources.

Halting land degradation along with protecting and restoring natural capital and ecosystem services through land rehabilitation, ecological restoration and the allocation of water to environmental flows will strengthen ecological, economic and social systems against more severe impacts of drought and increase their ability to recover from disaster.

Nature-based solutions to drought management provide many other ecological benefits, including reducing risks from other natural disasters as well as mitigating and adapting to climate change. Pro-active ways to reduce drought risks also include improved drought monitoring, forecasting and early warning systems, along with assessments on drought vulnerability and impact for communities at risk.

The priorities and principles of the Sendai Framework provide a strong foundation for drought resilience, adaptation and management policies that can reduce risks associated with drought at national and subnational scales.

The first African Drought Conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia in August 2016, brought together African Member States and Parties to the UNCCD, as well as ministers, heads of Delegation and experts to discuss ways to enhance drought resilience in Africa. A coherent and integrated drought resilience and management policy framework would avoid fragmented and uncoordinated investments in land, water and socio-economic systems.

The Drought Resilience, Adaptation and Management Policy (DRAMP) Framework takes an integrated, multipronged approach to reducing risks and impacts of drought. Organized around six cross-cutting goals (Figure 1), the DRAMP Framework identifies pragmatic actions for countries to better prepare and respond to drought, and guides the design and implementation of drought policy at national to sub-national level.

The six goals of the DRAMP Framework are not mutually exclusive, with many of the actions for managing and adapting to drought applicable for more than one goal. The six goals of the DRAMP Framework are:

1. Reduce exposure to drought: reduce the potential for loss of people, livelihoods, ecosystem services and resources, infrastructure, as well as economic, social or cultural assets in places that could be adversely affected by drought;

2. Reduce vulnerability to drought: reduce tendency to be adversely affected by drought;

3. Increase resilience to drought risk: strengthen the ability of communities, ecosystems and economies to anticipate, absorb, accommodate or recover from the effects of drought quickly and efficiently by ensuring the preservation, restoration or improvement of natural capital;

4. Transformation: alter fundamental attributes of social, economic and ecological systems, including value systems; regulatory, legislative, or bureaucratic regimes; financial institutions; and technological or biological systems;

5. Prepare, respond and recover from drought: the backbone of management and planning approaches to reduce drought risk, including development of comprehensive drought monitoring and early warning systems.

6. Transfer and share drought risks: distribute risks among wider section of society to include those who benefit directly and indirectly from robust drought risk management. Read further (Source)

Becoming Drought Resilient: Why African Farmers Must Consider Drought Tolerant Crops 

Further reading from UNCCD library

📚 Fact of the Month - March 2021 - International Women's Day has occurred for well over a century with the first gathering held in 1911. The History behind the Day

2021 and beyond
The world has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation may feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men. However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so each year the world inspires women and celebrates their achievements.

Purple, green and white are the colors of International Women's Day. Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolizes hope. White represents purity, albeit a controversial concept. The colors originated from the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908.(Source)

International Women’s Day 2021 theme – “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world

📚 Word of the Week - Benefits 4 NbSA

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)

  • The absence of clear definitions, guidelines, and metrics and methodologies to track, quantify, and value NbSA benefits may significantly inhibit the development and financing of a robust pipeline of NbSA-related investments. 
  • Overall, the amount of public international funding flowing to nature-based solutions (NbS) for adaptation is still relatively small, accounting for only US$3.8–8.7 billion, or approximately 0.6–1.4 percent of total climate finance flows and 1.5–3.4 percent of public climate finance flows, in 2018.   
  • Furthermore, Climate Policy Initiative estimates that total funding for both adaptation and mitigation in the “agriculture, forestry, land-use, and natural resource management” sectors in 2018 only accounted for 3 percent of all tracked climate finance or 7 percent of tracked public finance.
  • Funding for NbS for adaptation (NbSA) in 2018 was driven by a handful of major bilateral donors, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Sweden. The European Union,  Asian Development Bank, the Green Climate Fund, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development were among the largest multilateral donors and channels of funding.
  • Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and Central Asia received approximately 50 percent of total public NbSA funding.
  • Demand exists. Seddon et al. (2019) showed that more than 60 percent of countries recognize the need to preserve ecosystems and have included NbS into their first nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
  • Likewise, a similarly high number of countries acknowledge that protecting ecosystems and enhancing biodiversity is a key goal of their adaptation planning efforts

In case of interest on how to include NbS into reporting processes, adaptation plans etc, and to see some examples of projects,  please consult the paper just included in our collection :  Public International Funding of Nature-based Solutions for Adaptation: A Landscape Assessment

 Page 27

Several efforts are attempting to develop methodologies for quantifying NbS benefits (see Box 5 Examples of Standards, Tools, Metrics, and Valuation Methodologies for Nature-based Solutions), including for adaptation. The table on the page provides recommendations for how donors and channels, as well as developing countries, can support the development of these approaches and accelerate their adoption.

Today, public capital is often still a decisive factor in determining whether an NbSA project is implemented and its benefits realized.

Publications, articles and more about on nature-based solutions ; 

📚 Word of the Week - Gender Equality

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

The world has made unprecedented advances, but no country has achieved gender equality. (Source)

  • Fifty years ago, we landed on the moon; in the last decade, we discovered new human ancestors and photographed a black hole for the first time.
  • In the meantime, legal restrictions have kept 2.7 billion women from accessing the same choice of jobs as men. Less than 25 per cent of parliamentarians were women, as of 2019. One in three women experience gender-based violence, still.
  • Women earn 23% less than men globally.
  • Women occupy only 24% of parliamentary seats worldwide
  • Globally, women are just 13 per cent of agricultural land holders.
  • Women in Northern Africa hold less than one in five paid jobs in the non-agricultural sector. The proportion of women in paid employment outside the agriculture sector has increased from 35 per cent in 1990 to 41 per cent in 2015.
  • More than 100 countries have taken action to track budget allocations for gender equality.

More than 100 countries committed to concrete actions that would advance gender equality for women and girls everywhere at a virtual high-level meeting during the UN General Assembly. This gathering –  under the theme “Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls” – marked the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most comprehensive roadmap for women and girls’ empowerment. What is the state of gender equality in the world?

Although women constitute 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, many of them are without ownership of the lands they work in and neither do they have an authoritative voice in local governments.

  • UNICEF said the 200 million hours women and girls spend every day collecting water is a colossal waste of their valuable time. However, UN estimates are that in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, for 29 per cent of the population (37 per cent in rural areas and 14 per cent in urban areas), improved drinking water sources are 30 minutes or more away. (Source)
  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has calculated how much time women and girls spend carrying water every day, which equals 200 million hours, or 8.3 million days, or 22,800 years (UNICEF, 2016).
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, one roundtrip to collect water is 33 minutes on average in rural areas and 25 minutes in urban areas. In Asia, the numbers are 21 minutes and 19 minutes respectively. However for particular countries the figures may be higher. A single trip takes longer than an hour in Mauritania, Somalia, Tunisia and Yemen. (Source)

"Land belongs to the man, the produce in it to the woman.” All over the world, women farm land to both feed their families and make a living – yet they have no say in how it is managed. This common African saying perfectly embodies women’s struggle to own and inherit property throughout history. (Source)

It is also well documented that granting women the right to control assets, most notably land, may result in more bargaining power for them within their households. The implications of this include greater agency in household and marital matters and investment in better agricultural practices. Research has found that women’s ability to own and manage land is positively associated with their access to finance. More broadly, land rights may play an important role in establishing more equal gender relations within households and boosting women’s status in society. (Source)

More resources  : 

and Further reading from UNCCD library 

📚 Word of the Week- Water scarcity 

Water scarcity can mean scarcity in availability due to physical shortage, or scarcity in access due to the failure of institutions to ensure a regular supply or due to a lack of adequate infrastructure.

Water scarcity already affects every continent. Water use has been growing globally at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, and an increasing number of regions are reaching the limit at which water services can be sustainably delivered, especially in arid regions. (Source)

Water covers 70% of our planet, and it is easy to think that it will always be plentiful. However, freshwater—the stuff we drink, bathe in, irrigate our farm fields with—is incredibly rare. Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is tucked away in frozen glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use.

As a result, some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year.

Inadequate sanitation is also a problem for 2.4 billion people—they are exposed to diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses. Two million people, mostly children, die each year from diarrheal diseases alone.

Many of the water systems that keep ecosystems thriving and feed a growing human population have become stressed. Rivers, lakes and aquifers are drying up or becoming too polluted to use. (Source)

  • World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. SDG 6 is to ensure water and sanitation for all. Without a comprehensive understanding of water’s true, multidimensional value, we will be unable to safeguard this critical resource for the benefit of everyone.
  • Agriculture places the biggest demand on global freshwater resources and is a major contributor to environmental degradation.
  • Despite being fundamental to food security, water in food production is generally given a low value when assessed purely through the economic lens of value produced in relation to water used.
  • The United Nations global water conventions: Fostering sustainable development and peace
  • Water is complex because it is linked to almost everything in the world. But complexity should not hinder understanding: Water is a precondition for human existence and for the sustainability of the planet. See water facts
  • Around 1.2 billion people, or almost one-fifth of the world’s population, live in areas of scarcity.
  • 3.2 billion people live in agricultural areas with high to very high water shortages or scarcity, of whom 1.2 billion people – roughly one-sixth of the world’s population – live in severely water-constrained agricultural areas. (FAO, 2020)
  • Over 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress. (UN, 2018)
  • It is estimated that by 2040, one in four of the world’s children under 18 – some 600 million in all – will be living in areas of extremely high water stress. (UNICEF, 2017)
  • UNICEF said the 200 million hours women and girls spend every day collecting water is a colossal waste of their valuable time. However, UN estimates are that in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, for 29 per cent of the population (37 per cent in rural areas and 14 per cent in urban areas), improved drinking water sources are 30 minutes or more away. (Source)
  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has calculated how much time women and girls spend carrying water every day, which equals 200 million hours, or 8.3 million days, or 22,800 years (UNICEF, 2016).
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, one roundtrip to collect water is 33 minutes on average in rural areas and 25 minutes in urban areas. In Asia, the numbers are 21 minutes and 19 minutes respectively. However for particular countries the figures may be higher. A single trip takes longer than an hour in Mauritania, Somalia, Tunisia and Yemen. (Source)
  • 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030. (Global Water Institute, 2013)
  • About 4 billion people, representing nearly two-thirds of the world population, experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year (Mekonnen and Hoekstra, 2016)
  • With the existing climate change scenario, by 2030, water scarcity in some arid and semi-arid places will displace between 24 million and 700 million people. (UN, 2009).
  • A third of the world’s biggest groundwater systems are already in distress (Richey et al., 2015).
  • Nearly half the global population are already living in potential waterscarce areas at least one month per year and this could increase to some 4.8–5.7 billion in 2050. About 73% of the affected people live in Asia (69% by 2050) (Burek et al., 2016). ( Source:Factsheet on Water scarcity)

Further reading from UNCCD library water security ;  water footprint  ; water stress  ; water harvesting 

Land restoration is a vital ally to World Water Day. As we celebrate today, let’s remember that we must value water and land equally as part of the same challenge – to build a better, more equal, healthier planet post COVID-19. 

📚 Word of the Week - Urban development

Coalition for Urban Transitions releases a new report ‘Seizing the Urban Opportunity’, which provides insights from six emerging economies on how national governments can recover from COVID-19, tackle the climate crisis and secure shared prosperity through cities. Launching as a call to action for national governments ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, it builds on the Coalition’s flagship 2019 report: Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity.

National governments can spur COVID-19 recovery, achieve shared prosperity and drive climate action through national policies and targeted investments to decarbonise cities and make them more resilient. This report shows the power of urban transformation and the many ways to achieve it by looking up close at six major emerging economies: China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

Cities are vital to solving the triple challenges of COVID-19 recovery, sustainable and inclusive development, and climate change; but they need national leadership and support to realise their potential.

This new report builds on previous research from our 2019 flagship report, Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity, which found that national governments hold the key to urban transformations as they drive or control key policy realms and are responsible for mobilising resources at the scale needed.

This is a pivotal time for national governments, as the choices they make amid the COVID crisis can put their countries on track for a more prosperous and resilient future, or accelerate the climate emergency.

By 2030, investment in urban infrastructure must be directed towards zero-carbon, resilient, and inclusive development if cities are to reach their potential for delivering the emission reductions needed for a well below 2°C climate scenario. This report seeks to build momentum for enhanced climate ambition by national governments and other actors ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.

Recognising that developing and emerging economies face particularly complex challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, the report focuses on six key countries: China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa. Together, they produce about a third of global GDP and 41% of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use.

They are also home to 42% of the world’s urban population. The extent to these six major emerging economies can unleash the power of cities to catalyse sustainable, inclusive and resilient growth is therefore critical not only for their future trajectory, but for the whole planet.

Across the six countries studied, implementation of the report’s solutions, using currently available measures, could collectively support:

Climate benefits, including cutting annual emissions from key urban sectors (buildings, transport, materials use and waste) by 87–96% by 2050 beyond their initial NDC commitments under the Paris Agreement. Economic benefits including economic returns with a net present value of over $12 trillion by 2050, based on energy and material cost savings alone. Development benefits including potentially supporting millions of new jobs in 2030: 15.2 million in China, 8.2 million in India, 2.3 million in Indonesia, 4.5 million in Brazil, 650,000 in South Africa, and 500,000 in Mexico.

 

The report is a collaborative effort, created in consultation with experts and policymakers in the six focus countries, with additional input from more than 36 organisations across five continents.

National governments can reap $12 trillion in returns, create millions of new jobs, reduce emissions through low-carbon investments in cities

The report finds that these solutions could collectively support significant economic and development benefits, and cut annual emissions from key urban sectors by 87–96% by 2050 beyond their initial NDC commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Facts and figures:

  • Urban areas produce 80% of global GDP, and as of 2020, were home to about 56% of humankind.
  • Recognising that developing and emerging economies face particularly complex challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, Seizing the Urban Opportunity focuses on:
  • Six major emerging economies: China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa.

These countries represent about :

  • 1/3 of global GDP,
  • 42% of the world’s urban population, and
  • 41% of global fossil fuel emissions.
    • The report finds that the six countries could collectively cut emissions by up to 96% from key urban sectors (buildings, transport, materials use, and waste) by 2050, lead to $12 trillion in economic returns based on cost savings alone and deliver millions of new jobs

Further reading on urban related issues 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 - Drought 

Over 15 per cent of natural disaster damages and losses are caused by drought. Droughts account for 85.8% of livestock losses and drought is the most lethal natural hazard to livestock (FAO, 2015). The distribution of drought-related losses show high relative losses in Sub-Saharan Africa but Central and South America, southern Europe, the Middle East and southern Australia are also at high risk (Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis, 2005).

  • With the anticipated pressures on water resources and with more intense and severe droughts predicted, a paradigm shift is needed. Poorly coordinated “crisis management” in the face of drought will no longer suffice (Managing drought risk in a changing climate: The role of national drought policy, weather and climate extremes, 2014). A well-planned approach that focuses on reducing the impacts of drought is needed now.
  • The adoption of national drought policies that are focused on risk reduction and which are complemented by drought mitigation plans at various levels of government will have significant ripple effects across key sectors.
  • The adoption of these policies supports the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal target 6 – “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” – by promoting integrated water resources management. The vulnerability to future drought episodes can be significantly reduced and the coping capacity of communities, even entire nations, can be improved.
  • UNCCD has developed a Drought Toolbox Providing drought stakeholders with easy access to resources to support action on drought preparedness with the aim to boost the resilience of people and ecosystems.The drought toolbox collates a large number of tools organized in 3 modules.
  1. Drought Monitoring and Early Warning.
  2. Drought Vulnerability and Risk Assessment.
  3. Drought Risk Mitigation Measures.

On the last day of CRIC 19, delegates finalized discussions on the interim report of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on drought. In her response, Gunilla Björklund, IWG Chair, thanked delegates for providing concrete suggestions, including a proposal to establish an interagency mechanism on drought under the UN Environmental Management Group, and calls for the report to analyze links between drought, and land and soil degradation. Highlighting suggestions to make a stronger economic case for drought mitigation, she stated that the IWG will benefit from an ongoing partnership of the World Meteorological Organization, the Global Water Partnership and the World Bank addressing the economics of drought preparedeness. (Source

Further reading from UNCCD Library:  drought  ; drought policy ; 

📚 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 complexities.io 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:

📚 Word of the Week - Wetlands

A wetland is a place where the land is covered by water, either salt, fresh or somewhere in between. Marshes and ponds, the edge of a lake or ocean, the delta at the mouth of a river, low-lying areas that frequently flood—all of these are wetlands.

Arid wetlands are vital water stores in otherwise uninhabitable landscapes. They help strengthen the capacity of local people to survive droughts and fight desertification. A changing climate and lower river flows due to upstream diversions is putting these wetlands and the communities they support at risk. We improve resilience to disasters by protecting and rehabilitating the wetland ecosystems on which people depend.(Source)

Rivers and wetlands are critically important life-support systems running through the Sahelian drylands. They provide food, water supplies and fertile soils for tens of millions of people. The loss of wetlands results in increased water scarcity, hunger and instability. We seek to safeguard seasonal water flows that nourish the floodplains and local communities.(Source)

Wetlands are often viewed as wasteland: places to be drained and converted for development and other land uses. Since 1900 more than 64% of wetlands have been lost through drainage and conversion, and much of the rest have been degraded. Nature that depends on freshwater is in a major decline. As wetlands are lost, people are deprived of their well-being too. As the demand for water, land and food increases and climate change intensifies, wetlands are coming under pressure. (Source)

World Wetlands Day marks the date of adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the only multilateral environmental agreement to date that focuses solely on the conservation and wise use of wetlands, of which Wetlands International plays an instrumental role. This year is the Convention’s 50th anniversary. (Source)

The destruction of wetlands is a concern because they are some of the most productive habitats on the planet. They often support high concentrations of animals—including mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates—and serve as nurseries for many of these species. Wetlands also support the cultivation of rice, a staple in the diet of half the world’s population. And they provide a range of ecosystem services that benefit humanity, including water filtration, storm protection, flood control and recreation.(Source)

Without wetlands, cities have to spend more money to treat water for their citizens, floods are more devastating to nearby communities, storm surges from hurricanes can penetrate farther inland, animals are displaced or die out, and food supplies are disrupted, along with livelihoods. WWF, governments and other organizations have pursued efforts to conserve and protect wetlands through the Ramsar Convention, the only international treaty devoted to a single ecosystem type. More than 476,000 acres of wetland have been protected through this treaty, saving them and their services for future generations (Source)

Wetlands are the world’s water filters. They trap pollutants such as phosphorus and heavy metals in their soils, transform dissolved nitrogen into nitrogen gas, and break down suspended solids to neutralize harmful bacteria. New York City found that it could save $3-8 billion in new wastewater treatment plants by purchasing and preserving $1.5 billion in land around its upstate reservoirs. (Source)

Wetlands are often underappreciated because they are viewed as being more valuable for their water and undeveloped land than the ecosystem services they provide. They are often drained to make room for agriculture or human settlements. And any wetlands nearby left untouched may lose their own water to this development.(Source)

Climate change brings a variety of alterations to patterns of water and climate. In some places, rising sea levels are swamping shallow wetlands and drowning some species of mangrove trees. In others, droughts are destroying estuaries, floodplains and marshes.(Source)

Dams alter the natural flow of water through a landscape. There are possibilities for building dams or locating them in more sustainable ways that limit impact on existing ecosystems, but many have been very destructive to wetlands.(Source)

Further reading from UNCCD library 

📚 Word of the Week -  Arable lands

Arable land is defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as land under temporary crops (double-cropped areas are counted once), temporary meadows for mowing or for pasture, land under market or kitchen gardens, and land that is temporarily fallow;  Arable land (% of land area)

Land degradation is a global environmental issue that affects the world’s arable lands on a large scale, thus threatening global food production systems. (Source)

With a spatial footprint of ~40% of global arable areas, this type of process is by far the dominant degradation-inducing pressure in these anthropogenic systems. The authors also found that soil erosion is another important vector of uni-degradation, which acts alone in ~20% of worldwide arable landscapes.(Source)

Also, the latest findings showed that African countries are, percentagewise, the most heavily affected by the various pathways of arable land degradation. At the same time, the authors found that the two processes act simultaneously on an additional ~7% of arable areas and, as such, are the main pathways of multi-degradation (the incidence/convergence of two or more degradation processes) in arable lands worldwide. (Source)

Loss of World’s Arable Land Threat to ‘Everything We Eat, Drink, Breathe’, Speaker Says, as Second Committee Takes Up Sustainable Development. UNCCD ES IbrahimThiaw stressing that land is the basis for human health and livelihood. “Simply put, land feeds us all,” he said, noting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science‑Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services report that 25 per cent of the world’s land has been rendered unusable, “threatening everything we eat, drink and breathe”.In the face of that daunting statistic, many speakers addressed the issue as an existential threat that forestalls development. (Source)

Science tells us that desertification, land degradation and drought are real threats to humanity, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science‑Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services reporting that 25 per cent of the world’s land has been rendered unusable, “threatening everything we eat, drink and breathe”.(Source)

While unsustainable land use practices are responsible for nearly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, he noted that demand for agricultural products is predicted to increase by 50 per cent by 2050.  He stressed that Asia and Africa will soon have the highest number of people vulnerable to increased desertification.  Land degradation costs 10 per cent of the world’s annual gross domestic product (GDP), costing Central Asia alone an estimated $6 billion, with drought affecting every climatic region including around 70 countries.  Citing impacts in Jamaica, Peru and across the Sahel, he said by 2050, the combination of land degradation and climate change may force 50 to 700 million people to migrate.(Source)

However, land is part of the solution, as nature‑based solutions can provide over one‑third of climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to stabilize warming to below 2°C.  Around 2 billion hectares of land, twice the size of China, now degraded, can be restored, while halting and reversing current destructive trends could generate up to $1.4 trillion in annual economic benefits. (Source)

Agricultural land is defined as the land area that is either arable, under permanent crops, or under permanent pastures. Arable land includes land under temporary crops such as cereals, temporary meadows for mowing or for pasture, land under market or kitchen gardens, and land temporarily fallow. Land abandoned as a result of shifting cultivation is excluded. Land under permanent crops is cultivated with crops that occupy the land for long periods and need not be replanted after each harvest, such as orchards and vineyards. This category excludes land under trees grown for wood or timber. Permanent pasture is land used for five or more years for forage, including natural and cultivated crops. This indicator is presented as a total and per type of agricultural land and is measured in hectares and in percentage. Other agro-environmental indicators include Organic farmland and Transgenic cropland. (Source)

Ten million hectares of arable land worldwide are 'lost' every year. Less and less fertile and healthy soil. About ten million hectares of arable land are lost around the globe every year, an area equivalent to nearly 14 million football fields. One quarter of the world's soils already has significantly less humus and nutrients than 25 years ago and can no longer be used as cropland. The main reasons: land reclamation by deforestation, slash and burn practices, ploughing up of lands, and agricultural practices which are not adapted to the special conditions of its location. "Fertile and healthy soils are a basic requirement to secure our food supply. The degradation of soil is the cause of hunger and malnutrition – and hence conflicts and migration"

Further reading from UNCCD library 

📚 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)

Further reading from UNCCD library 

📚 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. 

Nearly 25 million people were displaced in 2019 because of natural disasters, compared with approximately 8.6 million displaced by conflict and violence. The figures for those displaced due to disaster vary each year but have steadily trumped the number forced to flee because of violence since 2008. Around the world, the number of people displaced within their own countries rose by almost 25% in 2019.

“What we see in those instances where we have some insights is that people stay within as close by as possible usually or move into the next urban area. So open urban centers are really the magnet, in a sense, for most of this type of displacement, so people can seek other opportunities for livelihoods, etc.,” said Bina Desai, head of programs at IDMC. (Source)https://www.devex.com/news/climate-migration-keeps-growing-but-doesn-t-look-as-you-might-expect-99214?

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 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

DID YOU KNOW:

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.

DID YOU KNOW:

  • 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.

About 931 million tons of food — or 17 per cent of all food available to consumers in 2019 and roughly equal to 23 million fully loaded 40-ton trucks bumper-to-bumper, enough to circle the Earth seven times — were trashed by households, retailers, restaurants and other food services, a Food Waste Index Report 2021 says

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)

Further reading from UNCCD library 

📚 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)
  • UNICEF said the 200 million hours women and girls spend every day collecting water is a colossal waste of their valuable time. However, UN estimates are that in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, for 29 per cent of the population (37 per cent in rural areas and 14 per cent in urban areas), improved drinking water sources are 30 minutes or more away. (Source)
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, one roundtrip to collect water is 33 minutes on average in rural areas and 25 minutes in urban areas. In Asia, the numbers are 21 minutes and 19 minutes respectively. However for particular countries the figures may be higher. A single trip takes longer than an hour in Mauritania, Somalia, Tunisia and Yemen. (Source)

Publications, articles and more about gender and land, gender equality, gender and land rights

Further reading 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 systemsFurther reading 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, Further reading 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 

📚 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: https://ipbes.net/biodiversity-pandemics-participants

Further reading from UNCCD library 

📚 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  ;

Further reading 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  ; Further reading 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

According to the target and indicators of LDN, a first step towards rebuilding and restoring soil capital is to halt land degradation. An abundance of options are available to land managers in pursuit of this goal, but the appropriate solutions in each context are not always known and many hurdles still impede progress. Land health needs to be recognised as a precondition for resilient agricultural production and incentivised to trigger the desired shift and impact at scale. Restoring land health is one element of wider changes needed in the food system. Efforts to improve equitable access to natural resources (especially land and water) and access to food, to reduce unhealthy diets, and mitigate food loss and wastes are also essential. Common ground: restoring land health for sustainable agriculture IUCN (Source)

Further reading from UNCCD library 

📚 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)

Further reading from UNCCD library 

📚 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.

Further reading from UNCCD library 

📚 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 ;   and  Further reading 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. 

Further reading from UNCCD library Publications and articles on mountain ecosystems, mountain communities,