Despite taking place online “for reasons that we would have preferred to avoid,” as Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw noted, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s (UNCCD) Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC) made good use of the opportunity to share experiences on issues to be addressed at the next session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP15).
The global pandemic delayed CRIC 19 by several months, and ultimately forced it to take place virtually with a reduced agenda, but Thiaw highlighted that COVID-19 has also demonstrated the importance of the UNCCD’s work.
He noted links between land health and unsustainable land-use changes, and emphasised that land restoration creates green jobs, mitigates climate change, slows biodiversity loss, increases food security, and frees millions of people from poverty and hunger.
The CRIC 19 agenda included updates on: the status of implementing Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) projects, including progress with operationalising the LDN Fund; support to the UNCCD Drought Initiative, and policy frameworks adopted by parties relating to drought, gender, and land tenure; and the interim report of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on effective policy and implementation measures for addressing drought under the UNCCD.
On the LDN Fund, CRIC participants learned that over $150 million has been secured since the Fund’s inception in 2018, with 70% coming from private funding sources, and over 220 projects screened to date.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin reports that the fund manager called attention to the need to secure social and environmental safeguards and ensure the involvement of local stakeholders in land governance processes.
Participants expressed different views on the issue of drought and how best to manage it, with some calling for a UNCCD Drought Protocol with dedicated financial resources to ensure drought receives the attention it deserves. Other participants supported collaboration with existing international programmes and specialised institutions working on drought.
On land tenure, several speakers noted the need to build national capacities to enact and implement legal frameworks in line with the FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security.
Participants also addressed the need to mainstream gender across all UNCCD programmes, with calls to raise current ambition as set out in the UNCCD’s Gender Action Plan, and to strive towards more systemic approaches.
CRIC 19 convened in daily two-hour online sessions from March 15-19, 2021. The 15th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD (COP15) is expected to take place at the end of 2021.