Multilateral Action for combating desertification



Policy Update #13

Combating Desertification through Multilateral Action


From 12-23 October 2015, delegates who had convened for the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 12) considered whether the Convention would take on a goal akin to the Aichi Targets for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the objective of limiting temperature increases to 2˚C from pre-industrial levels for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Fortunately, the UNCCD COP 12 convened at an auspicious time in 2015, capitalizing on the global momentum and energy following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September and leading up to the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, which is expected to adopt a new agreement on climate change in December. Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) include a specific target on Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) (SDG 15.3) in its Goal to “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss,” as well as a Goal on sustainable agriculture and food security (SDG 2), both of which are extremely relevant to the UNCCD mandate.

Ensconced between these two meetings, calls for greater recognition of the ties of desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) to climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity loss, and agriculture were realized. COP 12 adopted the LDN by 2030 target and agreed on indicators (trends in land cover, land productivity and carbon stocks above and below ground) to be used to measure progress.[1] These outcomes, relevant for reporting across all three Rio Conventions (UNCCD, UNFCCC and CBD), are expected to more firmly link the UNCCD to the CBD and UNFCCC.[2]


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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