Dealing with drought: the UNCCD COP in India
Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people live in areas where the soil is depleted; often they are forced to, or the region they have been living in for generations has become increasingly arid over time. The desert is advancing and this is a global problem. Opinions about the causes of land degradation and desertification, but especially about the solutions, are very divided. To discuss this, the biennial global conference on desertification will take place from 2 to 14 September. This is where policymakers, scientists, NGOs, female and male farmers and pastoralist, herders and companies from all over the world come together. Our colleague Nathalie van Haren is present at the conference and explains why.
"UNCCD COP, the conferences' abbreviaton, stands for the 'United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Conference of Parties'. A mouth full, that’s for sure, but then again the topic is very important. One could see this conference as the less visible sister of the climate summit, the UNFCCC-COP which is held in Chile this year. Although there is a lot of overlap - land degradation is one of the biggest causes of climate change, as we have again seen confirmed in the recent IPCC report - the conference in New Delhi focuses on combating desertification and land degradation, dealing with drought and the restoring and sustainable use of land. "
Representative of the NGOs
"At the beginning of 2018, I was elected to be a CSO panel member of the UNCCD. That means that I am one of five people representing civil society. Each panel member represents NGOs from a region for two years: Africa, Asia, Latin America / Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and my region 'Western European and other groups’. This last region consists of Western Europe, Australia, the USA, Canada and Turkey, say the countries with money. In total, the 5 panel members represent more than 500 organisations and there are 140 NGOs in 'my' region alone. There has been little attention to dry areas and desertification in my region so far, because, unlike climate change, these specific problems have not been directly related to the daily reality of rich countries for a long time."
Poor people's convention
"Because the rich countries have always paid less attention to the UNCCD, it is also called the ‘little sister’ of the climate treaty and the biodiversity treaty. In my view this is undeserved, as the UNCCD is very progressive and has an inclusive design. In addition to the fact that the countries are being facilitated in their negotiations, there is a CSO panel, something that neither the UNFCCC nor the 'Convention on Biological Diversity' has established. Another nickname for the UNCCD is 'poor people's convention'. People who live in arid regions are often not taken into account by policymakers and politicians in the capital cities, and the rich countries barely put money into this convention because it doesn’t concern them very much.
Exhausted soil becomes fertile again
"Huge numbers of people live in arid regions. Of course they want to participate in decisions about how their environment can be used in a sustainable inclusive and future-proof way, and where necessary restored. If land and ecosystems are being restored through sustainable food production methods, through growing trees and shrubs or by improving soil health, then this must be done in consultation with and in cooperation with the population, or even better: on their call! There are countless examples of 'community-led' initiatives using sustainable farming to convert degraded land into fertile and productive land. We call this agro-ecology which, thanks to the focus of female and male farmers and pastoralists, smart knowledge exchange between land users and scientists and building on environmentally friendly farming methods, helps the soil to become healthy and fertile again. Moreover, biodiversity and biomass are increasing, and people who are sure of long-term use of the land, who are supported in knowledge exchange about sustainable land use, and who can participate in decisions about their environment have a better and sustainable future perspective. "
The priorities of the NGOs
"Together with the NGOs present in India, we ensure that these types of initiatives are brought to the attention of policymakers and funds to show that they are really worth investing in. My assignment as a CSO panel member is to support NGOs to be visible in the UNCCD negotiations. Together with the accredited NGO’s, we have identified a number of priorities, including recognition and funding for local initiatives, advocating land use rights and involving women in decision making. "
Focus on delivery at the COP
"I hope the COP in India will help countries to secure land use security for female and male farmers and pastoralists in national laws and regulations in such a way that women and men are supported and encouraged by the government use the land in a sustainable way. And I hope that COP14 will help countries with inclusive land use planning, so that local communities have a say (or will get it back) in decisions and investments with regard to their environment. But most of all I hope that this conference will help countries to not only talk about sustainable land use, but to actually see community led initiatives - which are very often supported by NGOs - and support them!”
Both ENDS and partners organise three 'side events' at the conference:
• Drynet: Pathways for big money to reach local communities: how large funds can support communities to contribute to Country Degradation Neutrality and SDG15.3 while leaving no one behind: Wednesday 4 September from 13:00 to 15:00 in MET-13
• Both ENDS & CARI: CSO actions to combat desertification: working with communities to up-scale Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration throughout the Sahel: Friday 6 September from 13:00 to 15:00 in MET-09
• Drynet: From global frameworks to local actions: the change that (upcoming) global reports can bring to policies and action on sustainable land management: Thursday 12 September from 08:00 to 10:00 in MET-10
As a CSO panel, Both ENDS also organises the Open Dialogue Session, this is an official part of the agenda and will take place on Thursday 5 September 2019 from 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. in the plenary room. The focus will be on 'Community based initiatives, women, country tenure, enabling environment and adequate finance policy'.
For more information
Read more about this subject
Together with civil society organisations from all over the world, the Fair Green and Global (FGG) Alliance aims for socially just, inclusive and environmentally sustainable societies in the Netherlands and the Global South.
Event / 6 September 2017
From 6-16 september, the 13th Conference of Parties' of the UNCCD (UN Convention to Combat Desertification) took place, this time in Ordos, China. The UNCCD is the global convention of the United Nations on combating desertification and drought. Every country in the world has signed this convention. Canada withdrew in 2012, but in 2016 - under the Trudeau administration - started a process to re-enter the convention. Both ENDS is a member of Drynet, a network of local organisations and communities in dry regions searching for ways to use land in a sustainable manner.
News / 29 October 2019
The second United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was held from 2 to 14 September in New Delhi, India. Our colleague Nathalie has been working together with many civil society organisations for several years to show the UNCCD that large numbers of local communities around the world are working on sustainable land use and on combating desertification and land degradation, and that land-use security is essential.
Publication / 1 September 2017
Publication / 1 September 2017
Both ENDS works with partners around the world to ensure that land is governed fairly and inclusively and managed sustainably with priority for the rights and interests of local communities.
News / 28 September 2017
This September, Both ENDS participated at the 13th Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD in Ordos, Inner Mongolia in China. We were part of the Drynet delegation, a network of CSOs, to bring local realities to the international UNCCD discussions.
Blog / 25 September 2017
Access to, ownership and control over land is inherently part of a successful implementation of land degradation neutrality (LDN) and sustainable land management. Sustainability often means investing for the long term, and insecurity withholds land users to do so. In particular women's land use rights are fundamental as they are the ones working on the land and thus putting LDN into practice.
News / 10 May 2022
From May 9 to 20, the 15th Conference of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (UNCCD COP15) will take place in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d'Ivoire. Governments, policymakers, civil society organisations and scientists from countries all over the world will discuss the problems around drought, land degradation and desertification that are increasing. Colleagues Nathalie van Haren and Stefan Schüller will be there, as will a large number of representatives of organisations with which Both ENDS has been working together for decades. But what is the purpose of the meeting, what is discussed and why is it important to be present? We asked Nathalie and Stefan.
News / 17 June 2021
Today is World Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought Day. Such a day is more than needed to get attention for desertification, land degradation and drought that are threatening and hitting hundreds of millions of people in many regions throughout the world. While the causes - such as large-scale agriculture, use of pesticides, water extraction and climate change - are clear and need to be stopped, it is just as important to focus on solutions like restoration and sustainable land use.– in line with World Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought Day's theme for this year: 'Restoration. Land. Recovery. We build back better with healthy land', we will therefore especially focus on inspiring solutions during the next few weeks.
News / 23 November 2018
Today, the Right Livelihood Awards 2018 will be presented in Stockholm. One of the four people who will receive the prize this year is Yacouba Sawadogo, 'the man who stopped the desert'. Yacouba, a farmer from Yatenga, Burkina Faso, is one of the founders of so-called 'Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration' with which degenerated and dry areas are becoming green and fertile again. According to Both ENDS, Yacouba's award is very well-deserved!
External link / 2 January 2015
The website about the project iSQAPER: Interactive soil quality assessment in Europe
and China for agricultural productivity and environmental resilience.
Event / 16 May 2022, 13:00 - 15:00
UNCCD-COP15: How funders can best support agroecological initiatives by local communities in drylands
Join our dialogue on how to set up more and better financial mechanisms that can support agroecological initiatives of local communities living in drylands.
The land degradation neutrality (LDN) response hierarchy of Avoid > Reduce > Reverse land degradation is an overarching principle for LDN implementation, which guides people in planning interventions to achieve LDN. The hierarchy articulates which interventions should be prioritised based on their potential to maximise the conservation of land-based natural capital, recognising that avoiding or reducing land degradation is generally more cost-effective than efforts to reverse past degradation. As value for money is highest in the Avoiding and in Reducing Land Degradation response, a smart way to spend money is to support sustainable land management approaches like agroecology that work with nature, not against it.
Event / 18 May 2022, 10:45 - 12:15
UNCCD-COP15: Monitoring Tree Cover and Enhancing Decision Making Tools Across Africa’s Great Green Wall
Join us for an open space for a reflection and exchange on a new dataset, developed by WRI, to monitor regreening efforts, and its applications in the Sahel.
In the drylands of Africa, land degradation threatens the livelihoods of millions of people. Fortunately, there are promising initiatives emerging all over the continent that are turning the tide. Throughout the Sahel, for example, vast tracts of land along the Great Green Wall have been restored by local communities. They have nurtured the plants that spontaneously spring from the soil, protecting young sprouts from cattle and other hazards.
Publication / 11 July 2019
News / 7 October 2018
We are very proud that our director Daniëlle Hirsch has been included again in the ‘Sustainable 100’ (an annual ranking list published by Dutch newspaper Trouw), and has gone up more than 40 spots compared to last year! Danielle was included in the list because of the many things she does with her organisation as a whole, but she got the higher ranking for the way she combines her criticism of the destructive role of the Netherlands as a trading nation and large cause of CO2 emissions in the world (often supported by the Dutch government), with a constructive attitude when it comes to finding alternatives and solutions.
Event / 16 May 2022, 13:00 - 15:00
Join our event, providing space for an interactive discussion among COP15 participants on multi-actor collaboration and the financing of community-based restoration
Publication / 8 April 2019
Publication / 14 January 2019
News / 3 June 2020
Last Friday, 29 May, it was announced that both the Fair, Green and Global Alliance (FGG) and the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) have been selected as two of the 20 potential strategic partnerships of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the 2021-2025 period. Both ENDS is pleased that the Dutch government is seriously considering extending its support to these networks, as they show that cooperation on the basis of equality between grassroots organisations and NGOs throughout the world can continue to bring about change in the position of women, in respect for human rights and in making trade chains and financing systems sustainable.