Let’s Speak and Write More about Desertification


Veronika Gregušová

My name is Veronika and I come from the Czech Republic. I am a curious person and passionate to share my knowledge with those who are interested in it. I wish that my blog (https://pinklich.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/desertification/) serves you as a platform for getting new ideas. Worlds seems too gloomy from the newspapers headlines, but it does not necessarily mean that it is so. From my perspective, there are many excellent things we are not aware of. My blog is an attempt to let you DISCOVER, LEARN and HELP inspiring initiatives. You can browse through categories (Society, Education, Environment) or read one of the interviews. I care about creating a quality content, that is why I post a new article every two to three weeks. I will be happy to hear any feedback from you. You can contact me on my e-mail address – 382630@mail.muni.cz. Veronika


Why is it that the global community is so concerned about climate change, but desertification rarely gets any attention in the press and what is more puzzling, in the research community? As an International Relations student I was surprised by the lack of scientific debate about this issue among social scientists. That is why the aim of my Master’s thesis “United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification: Challenges and Chances of a Troubled Regime” was to discover how desertification regime works, whether it is effective, and how it strives to make its functioning better.

The thesis provides the first comprehensive description of the desertification regime, while it also presents a list of the regime’s problems, and an explanation of the regime’s efforts to tackle these problems. Scholars have often referred to existence of a desertification regime, but they have not analyzed it by applying regime theory. I explain that the regime is denoted ineffective because until today it has not managed to reverse desertification, mitigate drought, and reduce poverty.

The UNCCD faces several problems including lack of funding, disagreements about financial responsibilities, and investment into unsustainable projects. Secondly, problems in science (small role of scientists in previous and current negotiations, malfunctioning of the Committee for Science and Technology and lack of scientific cooperation and data) lead to misunderstandings about significance of the desertification problem. A third problem lies in the design of the regime, namely in lack of consensus, low political will, and institutional weaknesses. Fourthly, there is a lack of advocacy about desertification and insufficient connections to other two Rio Conventions (UNFCCC and CBD).

The thesis also points out to UNCCD’s efforts of making the Convention more effective. I argue that the adoption of The Strategy for 2008-18 and the introduction of Land-Degradation Neutral World concept represent significant moves towards better implementation of the Convention, nonetheless, these projects have excessively ambitious goals.

To conclude, I believe the UNCCD is indispensable in our fight against desertification, but we have to make it more effective so that it reaches the affected populations and ecosystems. Desertification should also be taken seriously as a scientific topic even among social scientists.  If you feel interested in my thesis, please contact me through my blog and we can discuss some new ideas for research.

Veronika Gregušová holds an M.A. in International Relations from Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. She writes articles on her own blog Veronika & Global Ideas.

See also: https://pinklich.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/desertification/

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 (https://desertification.wordpress.com/) 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: http://www.unccd.int/en/programmes/Event‐and‐campaigns/WDCD/Pages/default.aspx
For background information and materials for the 2016 Observance, visit: For information about the Global Observance event, visit: http://www.unccd.int/en/programmes/Event‐and‐ campaigns/WDCD/wdcd2016/Pages/default.aspx
Contact for World Day to Combat Desertification: Yhori@unccd.int
For Media information: wwischnewski@unccd.int

New publication on financing for forest and landscape restoration


Message sent by LAND-L

FAO and Global Mechanism of the UNCCD launch new publication on financing for forest and landscape restoration

More than USD 300 billion are needed per year to restore the world’s degraded land in order to achieve a new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target by 2030, according to a new publication by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (GM).

The joint discussion paper, Sustainable financing for forest and landscape restoration: opportunities, challenges, and the way forward, was launched today at the Global Landscapes Forum in Paris during a session on ‘’Investing in integrated landscapes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’’.

Currently, the world’s degraded land amounts to 2 billion hectares, which is equal to an area the size of South America. Each year an additional 12 million hectares of land are degraded, while 7.6 million hectares of forest are converted to other uses or lost through natural causes.

“The degradation of the world’s land and forests is a serious threat to the livelihoods and food security of millions of people who depend on them, and there is an urgent need to invest in forest and landscape restoration to bring a significant portion of that degraded land back to a productive state,” said Douglas McGuire, Coordinator of the Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism hosted by the Forestry Department of FAO.

Funding falls short of global commitments

Countries have already made ambitious commitments to forest and landscape restoration, including under Goal 15 of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which sets a target (15.3) to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030.

In addition, some countries had previously pledged to restore 150 million hectares by 2020 in the framework of the 2011 Bonn Challenge, and 350 million hectares by 2030 under the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests.

However, mobilization of funds is one of the chief constraints to achieving these global targets. The USD 300 billion a year needed for SDG target 15.3 aside, the Bonn Challenge is estimated to require USD 36 billion a year, and the New York Declaration USD 49 billion a year.

“One of the main barriers is insufficient awareness of financing opportunities and investors’ lack of understanding of forest and landscape restoration,” said Markus Repnik, Managing Director of the GM.

Key questions addressed at the Global Landscape Forum session on ‘’Investing in integrated landscapes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’’

The GLF is one of the largest events held on the sidelines of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The session on ‘’Investing in integrated landscapes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’’, at which the publication was launched, addressed a number of key questions on forest and landscape restoration financing, including:

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]How are investments coordinated within integrated landscape initiatives?

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]How can investors better engage with landscape stakeholders?

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]How can these models be scaled-up and applied in the implementation of SDGs?

The joint FAO-GM discussion paper addresses these issues by providing an overview of existing funding sources and financial instruments that could be adapted specifically for forest and landscape restoration purposes both at the local, national, regional and global levels.

The Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative launched a complementary publication at the same discussion forum entitled “Scaling up investment & finance for integrated landscape management: Challenges and innovations”.

Innovative financing solutions proposed in the publication launched in Paris

The FAO-GM discussion paper sets out key messages on financing for forest and landscape restoration for governments, development banks, international agencies, environmental funds, NGOs and private companies. It also proposes innovative and non-traditional ideas such as crowdfunding and green bank cards.

 “With both governments and development agencies facing increasing funding shortages, long-term financing solutions may rely on private-sector investors – businesses and individuals – whether in the framework of corporate social responsibility or as investors looking for a mix of social and financial returns,” said Ludwig Liagre of the GM.

The joint publication also identifies ways to create an enabling environment for sound investments in forest and landscape restoration and proposes recommendations for building and strengthening financial alliances.

A joint FAO-GM public policy brief and infographic with key messages on sustainable financing for forest and landscape restoration included in this publication were launched in October 2015 at the Forests and Landscape Forum – organized by the GM, FAO, and LPFN, among other partners- during the 12th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD in Ankara, Turkey.

Related links

Discussion Paper on ‘’Sustainable financing for Forest and Landscape Restoration: opportunities, challenges, and the way forward’’

Infographic on Sustainable financing for forest and landscape restoration: key messages

Policy brief on ‘’Sustainable financing for forest and landscape restoration: the role of public policy makers’’


Global Mechanism’s work on forest and landscape restoration

FAO’s Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism

Upcoming events


DesertNet International Newsletter n. 3/2015

Important upcoming events

List of links to next meetings regarding desertification, water conservation and land degradation.


5‐6 Dec

Paris, France

28‐29 Dec

Colombo, Sri Lanka


17–20 Jan

International Remote Sensing Conference ‐ Saudi Arabia


Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

13‐15 Mar

RDC 2016 ‐ Rural Development Conference


Bangkok, Thailand

14‐17 Mar

4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves

http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/SC/pdf/First_Ann ouncement_WCBR2016_en.pdf

Lima, Peru

8‐12 May

The International Society for Ecological Modelling Global Conference


Towson University, MD, USA

31 May –2 Jun

International Conference on Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Land Use

Budapest, Hungary

1–4 Jun

2nd EWaS International Conference: Efficient & Sustainable Water Systems Management toward Worth Living Development


Chania, Greece

10–14 Jul

8th International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software (iEMSs 2016)


Toulouse, France

13–15 Jul

22nd International Sustainable Development Research Society Conference http://www.isdrsconference.org/

Lisbon, Portugal

22–26 Aug

10th European Conference on Ecological Restoration Best Practice in Restoration

Freising, Germany

29 Aug – 1 Sep

Montpellier, France

12–15 Sep

8th International Conference on Scour and Erosion


Oxford, United Kingdom

Information provided by: DNI Bureau

Consortium of Science and Knowledge Networks on Sustainable Land Management (ICoN SLM)


DesertNet International Newsletter n. 3/2015

Message from Wafa Essahli 

Chair of DesertNet International

Dear members of DesertNet International,

The major event of recent months was the participation of DesertNet International at the twelfth Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD (CoP12) that was held in Ankara, Turkey from 12th to 23rd October 2015 through the side event organised by the newly created International Consortium of Science and Knowledge Networks on Sustainable Land Management (ICoN SLM).

ICoN SLM is a network of networks founded by DNI, WOCAT and GNDRI. Since its launch in Windhoek on September 2013 during UNCCD CoP11, DNI has been very active in its implementation process.

The side event in Ankara on:

Policy‐oriented research to achieve land degradation neutrality: ICoN SLM‘s contributions to COP 12

aimed at discussing the policy oriented research needs proposed by ICoN SLM and to identify ways to operationalise LDN and develop a process for concrete interactions between ICoN SLM and the UNCCD’s Science Policy Interface (SPI).

The side event saw the active participation of many representatives of the Parties who provided precious feedback on how ICoN SLM could interact between the scientific community on one side and the SPI of the UNCCD on the other to achieve the upscaling of SLM strategies at Government level.

Certainly, ICoN SLM gives DNI a great opportunity to strengthen its activities and improve its impact on the UNCCD’s related knowledge and science development. DNI’s members present in Ankara also discussed the network’s activities and sought to identify all the opportunities offered by their projects to initiate actions that can mobilize members and increase the visibility of our network.

Wafa Essahli

DNI and ICoN SLM Chair

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]


Use the UNCCD Library



Library catalogue

The UNCCD library holds a specialized interesting collection of monographs and series, reports, audio-video collection, grey literature in fields of desertification, land degradation and drought, and its cross-cutting subjects such as development, economics, environment, land, soils, agriculture, energy, water, climate change, biodiversity, science and technology.  Welcome to UNCCD Library online public access catalogue managed with Adlib. Your search will give results with call numbers and the following symbols:  B (book);  E (electronic book); A (article); AVM (audiovisual materials); SER (serial).

UNCCD library offers hard copies and electronic full text access for​ most of the titles included in the catalogue. When opening the selected title, the External document link will lead you to a full text version. Some publications are available as hard copies only and could be consulted by visitors at place. In case you need a hard copy and you cannot visit our library, please consult the section: Continue your library search. Repeat the search with KVK and OCLC and find out the closest library in your area offering hard copy of  the publication not available online.
Detailed guidelines and FAQ are to be published as well, please be informed that the catalogue is in a process of development, the advanced and expert search  will be finalized soon. In case of further queries, or request for a visit send a mail to library@unccd.int. UNCCD librarian will assist you in person, by telephone or e-mail. ​


Photo credit: WVC 1994-07 – Bois de la Fraternisation in Arbolle (Burkina Faso),

Belgian TC-Dialogue with Canadian Cooperation

Happy to remind me of an former publication in the CBD Magazine 2002

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Belgium)


Arbolle 1988-07 at the start of the project (Photo credit - WVC)
Arbolle 1988-07 at the start of the project (Photo credit – WVC)


Click on the text to enlarge the size

Arbolle 1990-07 - Young wood developing thanks to soil conditioner TerraCottem
Arbolle 1990-07 – Young wood developing thanks to soil conditioner TerraCottem

Arbolle 1998-12 : Ten years after plantation with TerraCottem soil conditioner, the Bois de la Fraternisation (Wood of Fraternization) is a remarkable success. Reforestation at its best. (Photo credit WVC)
Arbolle 1998-12 : Ten years after plantation with TerraCottem soil conditioner, the Bois de la Fraternisation (Wood of Fraternization) is a remarkable success. Reforestation at its best.
(Photo credit WVC)

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