Maximizing the land’s potential and protecting its vegetation

UNFCCC, UNCCD and UNEP Highlight Development Benefits of Linking Land and Climate Agenda

13 July 2015: In their joint op-ed, titled ‘The Land Battle for Sustainable Development,’ Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), underscore the “huge, largely untapped potential for rapid gains in both the fight against climate change and efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs].”

The article was published by Project Syndicate as a contribution to the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3), which took place from 12-16 July 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Asserting that “there are reasons to be optimistic about the fight against climate change and the pursuit of sustainable development,” the three UN leaders highlight current high levels of investment in energy efficiency and conservation as promising steps forward. They note, however, that the importance of improved land management to win the fight against climate change “has largely been overlooked.” They warn that this risks depriving the world of “crucial tools in the creation of a low-carbon future” and missing “important opportunities to build resilience and adapt to the effects of rising temperatures.”
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Equator Prize 2015




UNDP and partners are pleased to announce the opening of the Equator Prize 2015 Call for Nominations.   

The Equator Prize 2015 will honor 20 outstanding indigenous peoples and local community initiatives that are reducing poverty, protecting nature, and strengthening resilience in the face of climate change.

We count on the support of Project Steering Committee (PSC) members and project partners to get the announcement out far and wide.

We would like to see a high number of quality nominations from sub-Saharan Africa, and hope to work through your networks to identify leading community-based initiatives and to disseminate the call widely.

The theme of this cycle of the Equator Prize is ‘empowerment, rights, and partnerships for local climate action’.   Emphasis has been placed on indigenous peoples and local communities that are:

  • Protecting, restoring and sustainably managing forests
  • Promoting sustainable agriculture and food security
  • Advancing community-based adaptation to climate change
  • Protecting and securing rights to communal lands, territories and natural resources 
  • Forging innovative partnerships for sustainable development   

Please note that the nomination deadline is May 27, 2015 — this is a shorter nomination period than previous cycles of the award — so your immediate action in activating your networks is most kindly requested. 

The official announcement is attached here (in English and French), and contains all relevant nomination information (nominations may be submitted in 15 different languages), eligibility requirements and selection criteria.

We look forward to hearing your ideas on how to give this announcement maximum visibility and thank you in advance for your support on the outreach and nomination effort.

Building on the successes of  the Equator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa (click here for footage) and the Equator Prize 2014 (click here for footage), the Equator Prize 2015 will be awarded at an Academy Awards-style event during the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris in December 2015.     

The Equator Prize 2015 website is here.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my colleague Joseph Corcoran at

Very best regards,

Initiatives to help farmers adapt to deteriorating land conditions

Photo credit: Google

Near Wolof village of Ndiagene in Senegal in the Sahel.

  • Statement calls for action on climate-resilient farming

    Speed read

    • The declaration sets out how research can be turned into evidence-based policy
    • Climate change is happening, there is no time to do further research, say scientists
    • The field is “full of best practices”, says an expert, and farmers must be heard
    Coùmabting desertification to get food security -
    Coùmabting desertification to get food security –

    Research on climate-resilient agriculture must be turned urgently into initiatives to help farmers adapt to deteriorating land conditions, a conference has heard.

    Attendees of the UN Climate-Smart Agriculture conference, which took place this month (16-18 March) in Montpellier, France, issued a declaration listing several steps that governments could take to create evidence-based agriculture policies from scientific results.

    Allahoury Amadou, a member of the UN high-level panel of experts onfood security and nutrition, told the conference that farmers are facing difficult conditions due to climate change, but policymakers are stalling on solutions.

    “The issue of land degradation is going so fast that we want action,” said Amadou, who is also the high commissioner for food security to the President of the Republic of Niger. “We don’t want to keep on researching and researching. Our world is already full of best practices.”

    He urged governments and international organisations to focus on improving farmers’ ability to produce food in today’s changing climate, rather than taking more time and resources to do further studies.

    Read the full article: SciDevNet

Mobilizing action around climate change and desertification through artworks

Photo credit: Artists Paris Climate 2015

UN Climate and Desertification Chiefs Back Paris 2015 Art Initiative

In the lead up to the Paris 2015 Climate Change Conference, major contemporary artists from around the world are mobilizing action around climate change and desertification through artworks to be displayed in the public spaces of Greater Paris, stretching from the Paris city center to the Conference site, in Le Bourget.

During the event, dubbed “Artists 4 Paris Climate 2015″, a charity auction of the artworks will be conducted by the premier International Auction House, Christie’s, together with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, in support of actions against climate change and desertification.Sustainability driven corporations are supporting the event.

Recognized for their commitment as well as their ability to mobilize the widest audience, visual artists from around the world, both North and South, have agreed to participate in the initiative. They will either create a completely new work inspired by the crucial issues of the Conference or one from a previous project, echoing the global event.

Read the full article: UNFCCC Newsroom

Small-scale farming and climate change

Photo credit: CCAFS-CGIAR

Farmers learning exchange in Peru to discuss climate change and adaptation practices. Photo: Manon Koningstein (CIAT)

Why smallholder farming is crucial in new climate deal

Countries should seize the chance to shape the new global climate deal.

Following December’s climate change meeting in Lima, countries are working on identifying their national contributions to mitigation and adaptation for submission at the end of March. These will form the basis of a new climate deal to be agreed in Paris at the end of this year. But with no formal arrangement for addressing agriculture within the negotiations, we could miss a key opportunity to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while enhancing food and nutritional security.

The global food system produces about 25 per cent of GHGs, of which around half comes from food production and the rest from processing, transport, packaging and land use change to agriculture.

Climate change is already having a negative impact on agricultural production and food security, as made forcefully clear in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment.

Read the full article: CCAFS-CGIAR

Deforestation in Brazil affects rainfall

Photo credit: Google

WWF warns on looming Amazon deforestation disaster

The science is clear: Forest loss behind Brazil’s drought


New research is showing the effects of forests on rainfall in the Amazon, and as deforestation in the region continues, rainfall in the southern part of Brazil will continue to be affected


The role of tropical deforestation in global climate change has been the subject of much international discussion and debate in the media and in policy forums like the UN Climate Change Convention. However, the role of deforestation in local climate change has received much less attention.

Now, with southern Brazil suffering from unprecedented drought, attention is turning toward more localized impacts of deforestation.  Dr. Antonio Nobre, a scientist at the Brazilian National Space Research Institute, released a report, “The Future Climate of Amazonia,” that linked the current drought to deforestation in the Amazon Basin. Politicians are questioning these conclusions. What does the science say?

Read the full article: Forests News

Genetic diversity in agriculture

Photo credit: UN News Centre

A crop of sorghum in Uruguay, funded by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic resources for Food and Agriculture.

Photo: FAO/Sandro Cespoli

UN agency stresses need for genetic diversity in agriculture to combat climate change

Knowledge of agricultural genetic resources needs to grow more quickly because of the critical role they have to play in feeding the world as climate change advances faster than expected, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

As the FAO’s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture starts its biennial meeting today, the Organization has sounded a warning that much more must be done to study, preserve and use the biological diversity that underpins world food production.

“In a warmer world with harsher, more variable weather, plants and animals raised for food will need to have the biological capacity to adapt more quickly than ever before,” said FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo. “Preventing further losses of agricultural genetic resources and diverting more attention to studying them and their potential will boost humankind’s ability to adapt to climate change.”

During its meeting, the Commission will consider adopting guidelines for integrating genetic resources into climate change adaptation plans that the FAO has developed in line with guidance from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The draft guidelines argue for an increased and explicit use of genetic resources as a part of overall adaptation measures needed to assure food security – in recognition of the critical role that genetic diversity must play there – and contain a range of recommendations aimed at helping countries implement policies and strategies for studying, preserving, and utilizing genetic resources to adapt to climate change.

The aim is to support Governments’ use of genetic resources – ranging from seed varieties of major staple crops to the millions of microbes living in the soil, an area where expertise is relatively thin – in their national plans for coping with climate change. Micro-organisms are often decried as agents of disease in crops and livestock but actually perform myriad functions and protect their hosts from myriad threats.

“We need to strengthen the role of genetic resources and help farmers, fishers and foresters cope with climate change,” says Linda Collette, Secretary of the Commission and lead editor of a book released by the FAO on the subject of genetic resources.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

UNFCCC: Send us your photos (Every Day Climate Change)

Photo credit: Newsroom

A shepherd prepares firewood outside a shack on barren grasslands

Climate Photo of the Week


The Climate Photo of this Week features the difficulties of the people from the central China’s Ningxia province, highly affected by desertification. In the picture a shepherd prepares firewood outside a shack on barren grasslands.

This photo was taken by photographer Katharina Hesse and it is part of Every Day Climate Change, an Instagram feed where photographers from around the world share their images to raise awareness about climate change.

Send us your photos

If you have cool photos of high quality that you might want us to feature, please e-mail with a caption, date and place where the photo was taken plus any copyright restrictions.

Read the full article: Newsroom


Focus on land and soil should be central to UNFCCC and Rio+20 (Google / RTCC)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

Bonn 2012: UNCCD calls for agriculture to be central to Rio+20

By Tierney Smith
RTCC in Bonn

Agriculture and a focus on land and soil should be central to both this year’s UNFCCC climate talks and the Earth Summit in June.

Home to around a third of the population, drylands account for 44% of cultivated land systems and 50% of its livestock – and yet poor land management and agricultural practices continue to be a major cause of desertification worldwide.

Speaking to RTCC, Sergio Zelaya from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) said he was pleased to see real work taking place at the conference on agriculture.

This year in Bonn sees agriculture considered and dealt with in an organised way within the UN climate process.



Global Media Campaign on Environment Protection in China (Google / Xinhua / CRI)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

Global Media Campaign on Environment Protection Launched in Beijing

A global media campaign aimed at alerting the public across the world to the need for environment protection was launched in Beijing on Sunday.

The campaign was jointly initiated by Xinhua News Agency, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and Reuters, to coincide with the World Earth Day on Sunday.

UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said he hoped the “Xinhua-spearheaded communications campaign will inspire the public to the rich array of possibilities and encourage those making decisions on all our behalf to show the leadership needed to break with the past in order to break into a sustainable future in 2012.”

He said the launch of the global media campaign on the Earth Day would “take us on a journey through UN World Environment Day under the theme A Green Economy: Does it include you? to Rio+20 and the UN General Assembly where, 40 years ago, UNEP was legally founded.”

The campaign was first advocated by Xinhua President Li Congjun in November 2011 during a meeting with Steiner, who is also UN Under-Secretary General.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres told Xinhua in a recent interview all environment issues were “very complex … it’s something where you have to go through a concerted long-time campaign that actually brings down to the level of the public what the climate is about.”

She said she believed Xinhua had taken a very good approach because the initiative was not just about reporting the results of one conference or the other, but a much deeper commitment that the media needed to take.

Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of UNCCD, told Xinhua the implications of desertification on food, water, energy and even human security were not well known.

“Not only do I welcome the initiative of Xinhua, but I also see the potential to work together to take on the issue that is often overlooked, to take it out of what I call ‘blind spots’,” he said.


Rio +20 and Beyond (Google / Natural Choices)

Read at : Google Alert- desertification


Reclaiming our future: Rio +20 and Beyond: La Vía Campesina Call to action 16.02.12

On 20-22 June 2012, governments from around the world will gather in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to commemorate 20 years of the “Earth Summit”, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that first established a global agenda for “sustainable development”. During the 1992 summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Convention to Combat Desertification, were all adopted. The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was also established to ensure effective follow-up of the UNCED “Earth Summit.”

Twenty years later, governments should have reconvened to review their commitments and progress, but in reality the issue to debate will be the “green economy” led development, propagating the same capitalist model that caused climate chaos and other deep social and environmental crises.

La Vía Campesina will mobilize for this historical moment, representing the voice of the millions of peasants and indigenous globally who are defending the well-being of all by implementing food sovereignty and the protection of natural resources.

20 Years later: a planet in crisis

20 years after the Earth Summit, life has become more difficult for the majority of the planet’s inhabitants. The number of hungry people has increased to almost one billion, which means that one out of six human beings is going hungry, women and small farmers being the most affected. Meanwhile, the environment is depleting fast, biodiversity is being destroyed, water resources are getting scarce and contaminated and the climate is in crisis. This is jeopardizing our very future on Earth while poverty and inequalities are increasing.


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