The thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 13) has concluded with the adoption of 37 decisions. Through these decisions, the COP endorsed a scientific conceptual framework for land degradation neutrality (LDN), and addressed emerging issues such as drought, sand storms and migration as well as how to align UNCCD implementation with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The COP concluded with the issuance of the Ordos Declaration, a decree by 80 ministers urging enhanced action to fight desertification.

The UNCCD’s two subsidiary bodies, the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) and the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC), also concluded meetings with each negotiating six decisions for consideration by the COP. The CST approved a scientific conceptual framework that provides the basis for understanding LDN and offers practical guidance for implementing and monitoring programmes to achieve LDN targets. By the end of the COP, Brazil, India, and Liberia announced national LDN targets, bringing the total number of countries to do so to 113. Through these voluntary targets, and guided by the framework, the countries aim to rehabilitate land and reverse degradation within their borders.

The COP also adopted the UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework, which will guide future actions under the Convention. UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut told the COP, “We now have a clear, action-oriented, path forward!”

The COPs discussion on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reflected the UNCCD’s role as the custodian agency of SDG indicator 15.3.1 on the proportion of land degraded over total land area. The decision emphasizes the interlinkages among the three Rio Conventions on land, biodiversity and climate as a means for achieving global goals and targets. It further calls on parties to ensure that LDN targets and related activities “create leverage and synergies” with the climate and biodiversity agendas, “ideally through joint programming of the three Rio Conventions.” This outcome links implementation of the UNCCD with the SDGs through the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD took an additional step towards enhanced implementation and reporting across the Conventions, announcing that the planned Project Preparation Facility, jointly operated with the other two Rio Conventions, is approaching operationalization.

On emerging issues, COP 13 adopted a decision on drought. The text states, among other actions, that the COP invited all parties to use the Drought Resilience, Adaptation and Management Policy framework to strengthen preparedness and response to drought. The COP also invited parties to pursue a comprehensive system on drought preparedness. On migration, the COP’s decision promotes “the positive role that measures taken to implement the Convention can play to address desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) as one of the drivers that can cause migration.” On sand and dust storm issues, the COP calls for mainstreaming these issues into national disaster risk reduction policies and for promoting cooperation.

The COP also adopted a decision on gender, including a Gender Plan of Action to support gender-responsive implementation of the UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework.

In addition to these outcomes, other highlights from the meeting included the launch of the LDN Fund with an initial capitalization of US$300 million, and the launch of the first edition of the ‘Global Land Outlook’ (GLO). On the fund, the UNCCD states that it is the first global private sector fund dedicated to implementing the SDGs. It will bring together public and private sector investors to finance projects that restore degraded land and help meet the challenges highlighted by the GLO.

UNCCD COP 13 convened from 6-15 September 2017, in Ordos, China. [UNCCD Press Release] [IISD RS Coverage of UNCCD COP 13] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Opening of COP 13] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on LDN Fund Launch] [UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework]


This article is originally from SDG Knowledge Hub which was written by Lauren Anderson and was published on 19 September 2017.

UNCCD COP 13 Adopts 37 Decisions, Links LDN to Emerging Issues

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