Key insights from the 17th Meeting of the GCF Board in Songdo, Korea


Photo credit: Forests News

Green Climate Fund steps up to reduce deforestation and forest degradation

South Korea – The Green Climate Fund (GCF) recently adopted two new decisions intended to reduce global emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as to support forest restoration and conservation in developing countries via REDD+.

These two new decisions relate to:

  1. The GCF’s role in financing development of policies and preparatory activities in developing countries; and
  2. The GCF’s policy related to making payments for verified emission reductions achieved through such policies and measures.


It has been a long trek to get to this point at the international level. The work on REDD+ started as early as 2005, and the international framework was finalized between 2013 and 2015. The UN Climate Convention Standing Committee on Finance has more recently been undertaking work to move the finance discussion forward since 2014 and much groundwork has been done through initiatives led by the World Bank, UNDP, UNEP and the FAO, such as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the UN-REDD Programme.

Since efforts to curb forest loss and restore and conserve forests commenced through REDD+, there has been more than USD $6 billion provided to countries across Asia, Africa and Central and South America- mostly on behalf of the governments of Norway, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. Now, more funding (likely several hundreds of millions of USD), is expected to come from the GCF.

Read the full article: Forests News

Number of people needing humanitarian assistance on the rise


Photo credit: FAO

A livestock owner in Kenya with his remaining cattle after drought killed two-thirds of his herd.

FAO issues alert over third consecutive failed rainy season, worsening hunger in East Africa

14 July 2017, Rome – Poor rains across East Africa have worsened hunger and left crops scorched, pastures dry and thousands of livestock dead – according to an alert released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The most affected areas, which received less than half of their normal seasonal rainfall, are central and southern Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, northern Tanzania and northeastern and southwestern Uganda.

Poor rains across East Africa have worsened hunger and left crops scorched, pastures dry and thousands of livestock dead – according to an alert released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The most affected areas, which received less than half of their normal seasonal rainfall, are central and southern Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, northern Tanzania and northeastern and southwestern Uganda.

The alert issued by FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) warns that the third consecutive failed rainy season has seriously eroded families’ resilience, and urgent and effective livelihood support is required.

“This is the third season in a row that families have had to endure failed rains – they are simply running out of ways to cope,” said FAO’s Director of Emergencies Dominique Burgeon. “Support is needed now before the situation rapidly deteriorates further.” 

Increasing humanitarian need

The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in the five aforementioned countries, currently estimated at about 16 million, has increased by about 30 percent since late 2016. In Somalia, almost half of the total population is food insecure.  Timely humanitarian assistance has averted famine so far but must be sustained. Conditions across the region are expected to further deteriorate in the coming months with the onset of the dry season and an anticipated early start of the lean season.

Read the full article: FAO

Over-abstraction of groundwater


Photo credit: CGIAR

 A well in Tunisia.

Groundwater over-abstraction in the MENA region: 5 problems and some solutions

Written by

In the Haouaria Plain of Northern Tunisia, a too familiar scene unfolds: a farmer stands near the edge of a wide hand-dug well, distraught. Groundwater levels continue to drop every year, increasing salinity and reducing the amount of crops that can be cultivated. Precipitation does not replenish the shallow aquifer like it used to. Groundwater depletion is a vexing phenomenon threatening sustainable economic and social development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Controlling and managing over-abstraction has become a clear challenge for policy-makers, managers and academics in the region.

Can innovative policies and regulations be used to reverse the current trend of groundwater depletion? This complex problem requires a systematic far-reaching approach that builds on existing knowledge and practices within and beyond the region. Implemented by IWMI and national partners in Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, and the UAE, a three-year USAID-funded project studied the uses, limitations and potential of policy tools and stakeholder dialogue to curb groundwater over-abstraction. The project has found that the current regulation and management tools in the MENA region suffer from five “wicked” problems that prevent them from properly addressing groundwater issues.

1. Scattered web of groundwater users

The main problem affecting groundwater resources in the MENA region is the myriad and scattered number of groundwater users.

Read the full article: CGIAR

Crop irrigation with untreated wastewater


Photo credit: IWMI

Basudev Mondal irrigates a farm near the busy EM Bypass road of Calcutta, India growing brinjal or egg plant. Photo: Chhandak Pradhan / IWMI

Crop irrigation with untreated wastewater

A major health and environmental menace

The use of wastewater to irrigate crops is far more widespread than previously estimated, according to a new study, exposing hundreds of millions of people to health risks and posing a major environmental hazard.

Study results, based on on advanced modeling methods, show that 65% of all irrigated areas within 40 kilometers downstream from urban centers – amounting to about 35.9 million hectares (Mha) worldwide – are affected by wastewater flows to a large degree. Of this total area, 29.3 Mha are in countries where wastewater treatment is very limited, exposing 885 million urban consumers as well as farmers and food vendors to serious health risks.

Five countries – China, India, Pakistan, Mexico and Iran – account for most of this cropland. The new findings supersede a widely cited 2004 estimate, based on case studies in some 70 countries and expert opinion, which had put the cropland area irrigated with wastewater at a maximum of 20 million hectares.

Read the full article: IWMI

Jamaican Farmer Field Schools and drought


Photo credit: Foodtank

Surviving the Drought with Jamaican Farmer Field Schools

Since winning the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition’s YES! Competitionlast year, Shaneica Lester and Anne-Teresa Birthwright now run a knowledge transfer project for small-scale farmers in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. Lester and Birthwright’s program, which focuses on irrigation conservation education, provides farmers with skills and education necessary to combat drought-related issues that impact their lands.

Lester and Birthwright’s Irrigation Farmer Field Schools (IFFS) include lessons on water conservation, understanding climate change, soil and water management, and ecosystem analysis. Through participating in the IFFS program, Jamaican farmers learn about technologies and techniques that can be directly applied to their fields and adapted to suit their needs, providing farmers with agency to decide how to manage their land and allocate their resources.

“We wanted to avoid a top-down approach and instead encourage self-empowerment within rural communities. A participatory approach allows farmers to be a part of their own solution by contributing their knowledge and expertise, as well as their perception and understanding of climate change,” Lester and Birthwright said in an interview with Food Tank.

Small farmers drive Jamaica’s agricultural sector and ensure the nation’s food security. When researching the challenges experienced by small rural farmers, Lester and Birthwright discovered that drought was the primary leading factor causing Jamaicans to quit farming and preventing young people from wanting to farm.

Read the full article: Foodtank

Community rights around large dams.


Photo credit: IIED – LAND-L

Global Water Initiative animations

In February 2017, the Global Water Initiative (GWI) West Africa released an animation explaining how policymakers can work with local communities to protect the rights of people affected by large dams in West Africa.

The animation is the first in a series of three animations looking at community rights around large dams. It is available in English and French, and can be viewed at the IIED website.

The second animation in the collection looks at revenue sharing from dams and will be released next week – watch this space!

For further information on GWI contact Jamie Skinner (, principal researcher, IIED’s Natural Resources research group.


Anne Schulthess

International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

80-86 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8NH

Israel’s top 10 advances to combat desertification


Photo credit: Israel 21c

10 top ways Israel fights desertification

Israel has gained a worldwide reputation for its ability to turn barren desert into useful and arable land. ISRAEL21c takes a look at the country’s top 10 eco-strategies.

By Karin Kloosterman – JULY 15, 2012, 12:00 AM

This past year’s erratic and violent weather is only a small taste of what’s to come, climate scientists predict, as the impact of global warming starts to hit. Weather will become more unpredictable, flooding will become even fiercer, and droughts and famine more widespread as land increasingly gives over to desert.

With desert covering a large part of its surface, Israel has had to quickly develop solutions for its lack of arable land and potable water. Israeli research, innovation, achievements and education on this topic now span the globe in tackling problems common to all desert dwellers.

“We’ve done a lot of research on ecosystem response to drought because we have this problem on our doorstep,” says Prof. Pedro Berliner, director of Israel’s foremost research center for desert research, the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev Desert.

ISRAEL21c looks at Israel’s top 10 advances to combat desertification, putting special focus on the work done by researchers at the Blaustein Institute.

1. Looking to the ancients

They lived in the Land of Israel more than 2,000 years ago in the heart of the Negev Desert, yet found a way to survive and thrive. How did the Nabateans build a sustainable community that provided food, firewood and fodder for animals?

This is Prof Pedro Berliner’s area of interest.

Read the full article: Israel 21c

Desertification occurs not only in Africa (in German)


Photo credit: EURACTIV

Dürre in Äthiopien [Oxfam/Flickr]

Wüstenausbreitung findet nicht nur in Afrika statt

Von: Michael Brüntrup | Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik

Mit Welttagen ist es wie mit katholischen Heiligen und mit UN-Organisationen – es gibt viele und für alle Sorgen einen. Doch das Thema Wüstenbildung könnte derzeit eine Renaissance erleben.

Den Welttag für die Bekämpfung von Wüstenbildung und Dürre (17. Juni) gibt es erst seit 1995. Er ist damit das Pendant der ebenfalls 1994 verabschiedeten internationalen Konvention zur Bekämpfung der Wüstenbildung, die im vollen Titel (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa, UNCCD) ebenfalls das Doppelproblem Wüstenbildung und Dürre thematisiert. Diese wiederum ist eine der drei aus dem Erdgipfel in Rio 1992 hervorgegangenen Umwelt- und Entwicklungs-Konventionen, gemeinsam mit den Abkommen zum Klimawandel (UNFCCC) und zur Biologischen Diversität (CBD).

Deutschland und Bonn haben einen besonderen Bezug zu dem Thema, denn sie beherbergen seit 1999 das UNCCD Sekretariat. Damals war Verwüstung ein besonders brisantes Thema. So erklärte der Wissenschaftliche Beirat der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveränderungen (WBGU) anlässlich des Weltwüstentages 1996: „Die weltweit zu beobachtende Desertifikation und Degradation von Böden wird nach Ansicht des WBGU in den nächsten zwei bis drei Dekaden sehr viel deutlicher zu spüren sein als die Folgen des globalen Klimawandels“.

Doch schon bald nach der Verabschiedung wurde es relativ still um Konvention und Gedenktag. Wüstenbildung und Dürre galten hauptsächlich als Probleme in und für arme Länder, während es schien, als hätten die Industrieländer diese hinter sich gelassen beziehungsweise im Griff.

Wüstenausbreitung findet nicht nur in Afrika statt

Sinnbild der Wüstenbildung war damals die sich nach Süden ausbreitende Sahara, nicht der Dustbowl des mittleren Westens der USA. Der weiter gefasste Begriff der (Boden- und Vegetations-) Degradation wurde nicht gewählt, obwohl er oft die bessere Bezeichnung für die Art von Prozessen ist, die durch die Konvention bekämpft werden soll. Auch die Reduzierung auf trockene und halbtrockene Standorte schloss viele Länder der gemäßigten Breiten aus.

Read the full article: EURACTIV

Better management of land so that it can provide a place where individuals and communities “can build a future.”



Help preserve land – our ‘home and future’ – UN urges on World Day to Combat Desertification

India Blooms News Service

With hundreds of millions of people around the globe directly affected by desertification – the degradation of land ecosystems due to unsustainable farming or mining practices, or climate change – United Nations agencies have called for better management of land so that it can provide a place where individuals and communities “can build a future.”

“Population growth means demand for food and water is set to double by 2050 but crop yields are projected to fall precipitously on drought affected, degraded land. More than 1.3 billion people, mostly in the rural areas of developing countries, are in this situation,” said Monique Barbut, the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) secretariat, in her message on the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.

“So this year, the Convention is calling for a focus on making the land and life in rural communities viable for young people […] let us give them better choices and options.”

According to estimates, nearly 500 million hectares of once fertile land – close to two million square miles – have now been abandoned.

The UNCCD believes that with access to new technologies and to the knowledge, these lands can build resilience to extreme weather-elements like drought and with the right, feed a hungry planet and develop new green sectors of the economy.

“Let us give young people the chance to bring that natural capital back to life and into production [which can then] develop markets for rural products and revitalize communities.” added Barbut, calling for increased and relevant investments in land, rural infrastructure and skills development so that “the future can be bright.”

The role of environment change is also increasingly clear in motivating or compelling people to migrate or become displaced.

With more land getting lost to desertification, rural populations – relying on pastoral livelihoods, agriculture and natural resources – will face additional vulnerabilities, compounding poverty, poor levels of education, lack of investment and isolation, voiced Irina Bokova, the head of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

To address this growing threat, Bokova called for a two pronged approach: first, better land management to arrest desertification as well as for preserving its productivity; and second, strengthening resilience of vulnerable populations by supporting alternative livelihoods.

“We must recognise that desertification is a global phenomenon that threatens everyone and we must start to act globally to build a sustainable and stable future for all,” she underscored.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) also highlighted the challenges noted by Ms. Bokova.

Read the full article: INDIA BLOOMS

China: shrinking degraded land and reduced poverty in desertified areas



China makes strides in combat against desertification


China has made great progress in the fight against desertification in the past few years, with shrinking degraded land and reduced poverty in desertified areas.

Land degradation in China has lessened in recent years, Zhang Jianlong, head of the State Forestry Administration, told Xinhua ahead of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, which falls on June 17 each year.

The area of desertified land in the country shrank by an annual average of 1,980 square km in the 2010-2014 period, a sharper decline than 1,717 square km for the 2005-2009 period and 1,283 square km for 2000-2004.

That was a reversal from the years before 2000, when desertified land was increasing, he said.

One result of the change can be felt in the capital city Beijing, which used to be plagued by sandstorms but has seen much less frequent occurrences.

Only two to three sandstorms were seen each year for the past two years, compared with over 13 around the year 2000, according to official data released last June.

China wants to rehabilitate 10 million hectares of desertified land in the 2016-2020 period, turning more than half of the country’s reclaimable deserts into green land.

To achieve that goal, the country must increase forest coverage to 23 percent by 2020 from 21.7 percent at the end of 2015, though the rate is still below the world average level of around 30 percent.

One of the largest forest projects is the Three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program. Launched in 1978 and expected to be completed by 2050, it consists of afforestation in northwest, north and northeast China.

By 2015, the project has seen nearly 30 million hectares of forests planted and preserved, Zhang said.

Read the full article: ECNS.CN

2mn indigenous trees have been planted throughout Pakistan


Photo credit: Gulf Times

Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme

by Amos YEE

More than 2mn indigenous trees have been planted throughout Pakistan so far as a part of Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme. This was stated by Mohamed Saleem, a representative of the Ministry of Climate Change, yesterday.

“Launched on February 9 this year at the Prime Minister Office, the Green Pakistan Programme aims to reinvigorate country’s ailing forestry sector through a large-scale plantation besides protecting and conserving wildlife and their habitats for revival of the overall biodiversity, which is in danger because of over-exploitation or sustainable use of natural resources,” he said.

He claimed that more than 1mn trees had been planted in Punjab followed by 409,300 trees in Sindh, 202,000 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 232,400 in Balochistan, 130,500 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 86,330 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 87,000 trees in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). He said 9.58mn saplings were in different nurseries set up in various parts of the country under the programme.

“These 9.58mn more saplings will be planted across the country in the next few months, particularly in watershed and areas which are vulnerable to floods, land erosion, landslides and where desertification is expanding,” Saleem added.
He said a viable mechanism had been hammered out to ensure maximum survival of the tree samplings through utmost care.

In this regard, local forest communities are also being engaged for their direct involvement in the tree plantation and their care.
Under the five-year ambitious Green Pakistan Programme, 100mn trees will be planted till 2021 at a cost of Rs10bn.

Some 50% of the cost will be met by provincial governments, Gilgit-Baltistan, AJK and Fata regions while the remainder will be extended on a yearly basis by the federal government.

Read the full article: Gulf Times

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