UNCCD Fellows report on calls for collaboration, stepped up action to combat land degradation

The 14th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification was aimed at reviewing progress made to control and reverse further loss of productive land from desertification, land degradation and drought. Held from September 2-13 in New Delhi, India, a mix of representatives from national, regional and local governments, science and research communities, the private sector, international and non-governmental organizations and all forms of media addressed these issues during the event.

As part of a Fellowship program carried out with the support of the Global Environment Facility, EJN sent six selected journalists from Africa and India to the conference, where they engaged with other participants and program organizers in an orientation workshop, breakfast briefings, interviews and sessions with high-level officials and mentorship.

Over the course of the week, Fellows reported on calls by high-level leaders to ramp up action on land protection and management, including an announcement by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the opening of COP14 to provide technical support to other UNCCD member countries to meet land restoration goals outlined under the convention. Modi also emphasized India’s commitment to restore 26 million hectares of land by 2030 and invest in water resources.

During a meeting on the sidelines of the convention, African leaders further committed to restoring 100 million hectares of land while creating more than 10 million green jobs across the Sahel by 2030, as Ghana-based Fellow Reuben Quainoo reported.

Nigerian Fellow Nkechi Isaac wrote in this report about Nigeria’s call for international support and collaboration to tackle an environmental and humanitarian crisis stemming in large part from climate change and environmental degradation in the Lake Chain basin.

And fellow Tanmay Bhaduri, with Youth Ki Awaaz in Kolkata, highlighted a report by the Global Commission on Adaptation calling for investment in effective climate change adaptation.

Line Renee interview
Fellow Line Renée Anaba Batongue from Cameroon during an interview.

Investment in early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture crop production, global mangrove protection and in making water resources more resilient, could generate US$7.1 trillion in net benefits, Bhaduri reported.

Later during the COP he covered the launch by Korea’s minister of forestry, Kim Jae-Hyun, of the Peace Forest Initiative, which supports cooperating in land restoration efforts in cross-border and post-conflict situations.

Throughout the multi-day conference speakers and panels raised issues such as the need for more decision-making power among local governments to combat desertification and the benefits of public-private partnerships in helping restore degraded lands.

Jitendra Choubey, a Fellow from New Delhi, reported on the release of a report which found that droughts were the costliest natural disaster for agriculture in developing countries between 2005 and 2015, amounting to losses of $29 billion.

There were also reports on statements by high-level leaders who Fellows might not normally have access to, like Ghana’s Deputy Environment Minister, Patricia Appiagyei, who said land rehabilitation was key to tackling the current climate emergency but felt Africa’s commitment to achieving this goal was idle.

As the convention came to a close, the Fellows reported on a call for policymakers to involve women in solving land degradation and desertification. They also highlighted concluding commitments from member states to reduce the risks and impacts of desertification, land degradation and drought though the development of community-driven projects and gender-responsive programs.

And Fellowship lead and director of EJN's Bay of Bengal and Third Pole projects, Joydeep Gupta, co-authored this story about the COP's closing declaration, which held that ecosystem restoration and land-based solutions must drive action to stem biodiversity loss and restrain global warming.

You can read through all of the reports our Fellows produced at the links below:



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