Success stories and best practices to combat desertification


Iran 2002 : Meeting of TPN3 – Demonstration site for best practices of sand dune fixation

Photo WVC 2002-12-20 – TPN3-05- Rui ZHENG, Representative of the UNCCD.jpg


PEOPLE FOR ACTION, an electronic network for combating desertification


by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (University of Ghent, Belgium).


Originally published at:


At the end of 2002, I launched an electronic network for people interested in all aspects of desertification and poverty. In 2006, this network had already more than 1000 members. On the demand of the UNCCD, it has been taken over by the Secretariat of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST), but only for a period of 6 months (until the end of 2006).

In March 2007, trying to keep this network alive and looking for opportunities to network organisations and individuals with interest in desertification, I used my desertification blog ( to collect information and make the data available over the internet.

This blog aims at bringing all these people closer to one another, as they all have the same attention for combating desertification and alleviating hunger and poverty.

In the coming period, I will try to compose a sort of historical review of the most important contributions to the PEOPLE FOR ACTION-network. I am convinced that, looking back at the last period (1994-2007), we will find a lot of data to be reviewed in the light of recent events, particularly the successes booked and the best practices documented.

Dec 2002 TPN3-11a---Iran
Photo WVC Dec 2002 TPN3-11a—Iran.jpg

IRAN 2002: Representatives of different countries inspecting field work for the demonstration of best practices and success stories for sand dune fixation in TPN3 countries

Photo WVC Dec 2002 TPN3-11a—Iran.jpg



One of the important messages and conclusions of UNCCD’s CRIC1 in Rome (11-22/12/02) was that there is an urgent need for exchange of information within a network of individuals interested in the desertification problems. Many of us enjoyed in Rome very much the presentations of case studies and the ensuing discussions, although seemingly there was no time left for in-depth analysis or exchanges of views on the situation in other countries than those who presented the case studies. Nevertheless, CRIC1 was a real success!

Most of the participants will remember that single sentence, repeatedly coming up in different interventions from the podium and the floor : There is no more time for talking, only time for action !.

I had a couple of times the privilege and the pleasure of reminding my colleagues in Rome that “REAL ACTION” should be launched by selecting a small number of success stories (best practices) and applying these in small scale projects, but in a large number of countries in all regions.

The TPNs (Thematic Program Networks) seem to be an excellent forum for setting up such comparative initiatives (see the pilot projects of the Asian TPN3 on sand dune fixation and rangeland management to be launched in Iran 2002). It goes without saying that we still need to exchange a lot of ideas on the way such actions could be optimally planned.

In order to enable a large number of colleagues and friends to participate in this exchange, I take today, March 26th, 2007, the liberty of sending this message to a list of email addresses stocked in my computer, asking first of all if you are interested in receiving from time to time my messages concerning desertification aspects. IF NOT, PLEASE SEND ME A SHORT NOTE TO TAKE YOU OFF MY NETWORK LIST.


In Aleppo (Syria) 2002-05: TPN4, fraternising with the Chinese delegation

Photo WVC 2002-05-UNCCD-TPN4b.jpg


Maybe you have from time to time some interesting information for our network? Please do not hesitate to send it to me and I will forward it to all the members of the network. It is my intention to create in this way a functional network of individuals interested in desertification under the umbrella of the UNCCD. Through our exchanges we will be gradually in a better position to bridge the intersessional periods of COPs and CRICs. I hope you will contribute to it in a very effective way, by sending comments on former messages, by sending important information yourself and especially by promoting the real CCD-family spirit.  Success stories and best practices: that’s what we need to apply at the largest scale.  Let’s go for it !

Today, Feb. 23, 2016, this blog registered 1,997,548 hits.  Not bad, don’t you think ?



World Day to Combat Desertification

Photo credit: Google – Imgres.jpg


United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June 

Let us find long‐term solutions, not just quick fixes, to disasters that are
destroying communities,” urged Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD.(See PRESS RELEASE below).


Willem Van Cotthem: We keep hoping that success stories and best practices will be applied at the global level. Priority should be given to methods and techniques providing daily fresh food to the hungry and malnourished. It cannot be denied that hunger and malnutrition are constantly undermining the performances of people. Application of existing success stories in local food production (kitchen gardens, school gardens, hospital gardens, …) would positively influence the efforts to combat desertification (limiting erosion, stimulating reforestation, etc.). We keep hoping.

ReplyUnited Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Hi Willem Van Cotthem, would you like to share some success stories you have? We always welcome all to share!”

       ReplyWillem Van Cotthem : Hello Friends at the UNCCD Secretariat: It will be my pleasure to select a series of success stories in the literature. However, I am convinced that the UNCCD secretariat has the necessary documentation to compile even a book on this subject (to the best of my knowledge the documents, e.g. presentations at COPs and meetings of CST and CRIC, have been there during my active period in the CST and in Bonn). Please consider a consultancy to achieve top class work that would serve all member countries, the CST and the CRIC. To be presented at the next World Day June 17th 2016.

UNCCD’s Monique Barbut Calls for Long‐Term Solutions Not Just Quick Fixes To Drought Bonn, Germany, 22/02/2016 –
“Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People. This is the slogan for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June. I am calling for solidarity from the international community with the people who are battling the ravages of drought and flood. Let us find long‐term solutions, not just quick fixes, to disasters that are destroying communities,” urged Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The droughts and floods beating down on communities in many parts of the world are linked to the current El Niño, which is expected to affect up 60 million people by July. In some areas, including in North Eastern Brazil, Somali, Ethiopia, Kenya and Namibia, the El Niño effects are coming on the back of years of severe and recurrent droughts. It is impossible for households that rely on the land for food and farm labor to recover, especially when the land is degraded.
What’s more, these conditions do not just devastate families and destabilize communities. When they are not attended to urgently, they can become a push factor for migration, and end with gross human rights abuses and long‐term security threats.
“We have seen this before – in Darfur following four decades of droughts and desertification and, more recently, in Syria, following the long drought of 2007‐2010. It is tragic to see a society breaking down when we can reduce the vulnerability of communities through simple and affordable acts such as restoring the degraded lands they live on, and helping countries to set up better systems for drought early warning and to prepare for and manage drought and floods,” Barbut said.
Ms Barbut made the remarks when announcing the plans for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification, which will take place on 17 June.
“I hope that World Day to Combat Desertification this year marks a turning point for every country. We need to show, through practical action and cooperation, how every country is tacking or supporting these challenges at the front‐end to preempt or minimize the potential impacts of the disasters, not just at the back‐end after the disasters happen,” she stated.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 17 June as the observance Day to raise public awareness about international efforts to combat desertification and the effects of drought.
Ms Barbut thanked the Government and People of China, for offering to host the global observance event, which will take place at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
“China has vast experience in nursing degraded lands and man‐made deserts back to health. This knowledge can and should benefit initiatives such as Africa’s Great Green Wall, the re‐ greening in southern Africa and the 20 X 20 Initiative in Latin America. We can create a better, more equal and climate change‐resilient world,” she noted.
“I also call on countries, the private sector, foundations and people of goodwill to support Africa  when the countries meet later in the year to develop concrete plans and policies to pre‐ empt, monitor and manage droughts,” Ms Barbut stated.
The 2016 World Day campaign is also advancing the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September last year. The Goals include a target to achieve a land degradation‐neutral world by 2030. That is, a world where the land restored back to health equals to, or is more than, the amount degraded every year.
For more information on the Day and previous events, visit:‐and‐campaigns/WDCD/Pages/default.aspx
For background information and materials for the 2016 Observance, visit: For information about the Global Observance event, visit:‐and‐ campaigns/WDCD/wdcd2016/Pages/default.aspx
Contact for World Day to Combat Desertification:
For Media information:

CRIC 13 and Sustainable Land Management


UNCCD CRIC 13 Addresses Sustainable Land Management Linkages in Post-2015, Climate Agendas

Delegates to the 13th session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 13) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) made a critical assessment of the status of the Convention and exchanged views on how to ensure its continued relevance and effectiveness. Pointing to the continuing “implementation gap” despite the high number of submitted country reports, several delegates questioned whether “we are collecting the right information to spur further action,” and suggested that a focus on synergies with the other Rio Conventions and adopting a global target on land degradation neutrality (LDN) could enhance the Convention’s impact.

Sharing her assessment of the reporting and review exercise, UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut highlighted shortcomings that require attention, with particular regard to measuring progress toward achieving sustainable land management (SLM) goals at national and global levels. She suggested that national reporting should focus on information that leads to a better understanding of land degradation and should “convince donors to increase financing by demonstrating the importance of land management, in particular for climate change mitigation and adaptation.” Highlighting ongoing efforts to develop common indicators among the three Rio Conventions, Barbut noted that LDN could become “a tangible national objective,” if adopted as part of a global post-2015 agreement.

Among ‘process’ actions to enhance the Convention’s relevance, Executive Secretary Barbut proposed: a longer reporting cycle of four years in order to focus on measuring impacts and results and enhance alignment with the GEF; holding back-to-back sessions of the CST and CRIC alongside major international events such as the Global Soil Week; strengthening regional implementation and governance, including by holding annual regional conferences; and strengthening the CRIC Bureau.

Read the full article: IISD






UNCCD Secretariat Evaluates the Effectiveness of NAPs in Advance of CRIC 13

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has published an evaluation report on the effectiveness of national action programmes (NAPs) as tools for policy change, based on the premise that “a virtuous circle” exists between the dual roles of NAPs as both a practical framework for action and a driver of political action. The evaluation stresses that this circle has in fact broken down, and explores the political dimension of obstacles to national-level implementation of action on desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD).

The report, titled ‘Evaluation of the effectiveness of national action programmes to implement the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification,‘ seeks to identify blockages that are keeping DLDD from being taken seriously at the national level and the reasons behind examples of stronger political will to take effective action, including cases where NAPs may not have been a prominent part of the structures and measures employed. It offers conclusions relating to how NAPs are conceived and designed, as well as how they are supported by the UNCCD Secretariat.

 Read the full article: IISD

Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Desertification Convention (CRIC)

Photo credit: IISD

View ofWorld Conference Center Bonn (WCCB), venue of the session


Thirteenth Session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 13) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

25-27 March 2015 | Bonn, Germany

The thirteenth Session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 13) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will convene in Bonn, Germany, from 25-27 March 2015. The meeting will take place at the World Conference Center Bonn (WCCB) in the Wasserwerk and Pumpenhaus buildings. It will be immediately preceded by regional meetings, from 23-24 March 2015, also taking place in Bonn.

Read the full article: IISD


In those early days of the CRIC: Three CST-members discussing the future role of science within UNCCD, representing Belgium, USA and Germany.

CRIC 13 agenda

The thirteenth session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 13) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will review progress made in implementing the Convention’s 10-Year Strategic Plan (The Strategy) and make recommendations to the Conference of the Parties (COP) on further steps to be taken to facilitate the effective implementation of the Convention. Delegates will also discuss how to integrate ongoing processes to align national action programmes with the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relating to sustainable land management.

According to the provisional agenda of the meeting, CRIC 13 will specifically assess the provisionally adopted performance indicators for five operational objectives of The Strategy covering: advocacy, awareness raising and education; policy framework; science, technology and knowledge; capacity building; and financing and technology transfer.

CRIC 13 will convene from 25-27 March 2015, in Bonn, Germany. The meeting will be preceded by consultations of affected country Parties of the Convention’s Regional Implementation Annexes, from 23-24 March 2015, in the same location.
Read more: Land-l.iisd


UNCCD – CRIC 11 (IISD Reporting Services)

Read at :  


15-19 APRIL 2013

The eleventh session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 11) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) took place in Bonn, Germany, from 15-19 April 2013. The meeting was preceded by the third Special Session of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST S-3) and the UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference, whose outcomes and recommendations were conveyed to CRIC 11.

In line with earlier decisions of the Conference of the Parties (COP), most of the plenary sessions at CRIC 11 were conducted in an interactive format to facilitate the sharing of country and regional experiences and lessons, with a half-day devoted to dialogue with civil society organizations (CSOs). The approximately 375 participants at CRIC 11 took part in interactive panel discussions that covered: communication strategies to mobilize action on desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD); crucial issues of alignment of national action programmes (NAPs); constraints and opportunities for the implementation of national monitoring systems on DLDD; input from the ad hoc Advisory Group of Technical Experts (AGTE) on “operationally delineating affected areas”; current UNCCD funding flows and future prospects, including the role of CSOs; and data access tools and policy frameworks for enhancing accessibility to best practices. CRIC 11 also took note of the input from CST S-3 on how best to measure progress in the implementation of the Convention’s10-Year Strategic Plan for 2008-2018 in a session on scientific input to the CRIC.