“Existential threats,” harsh warnings and hope in U.N. Global Land Outlook – ATIBT
“At no other point in modern history has humanity faced such an array of familiar and unfamiliar risks and hazards interacting in a hyper-connected and rapidly changing world,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, the executive secretary of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), in a statement on the launch of the second Global Land Outlook report (GLO2).
“We cannot afford to underestimate the scale and impact of these existential threats,” he said.
Launched in the lead-up to the UNCCD COP15 summit in Abidjan, the outlook states that up to 40 percent of the planet’s land is degraded, directly affecting half of humanity and threatening around half of global gross domestic product ($44 trillion).
GLO2 then lays out three scenarios for the planet’s degradation trajectory to 2050. Under a business-as-usual scenario, an area around the size of South America will continue to degrade – with serious implications for carbon emissions, biodiversity and agricultural productivity. As such, “business-as-usual is not a viable pathway for our continued survival and prosperity,” Thiaw said. “Conserving, restoring, and using our land resources sustainably is a global imperative: one that requires action on a crisis footing.”
Ermias Betemariam, a land health scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) who was on the outlook’s steering committee, also emphasized the salience of the human-environment relationship in the findings.
“Readers will recognize the pivotal roles that land plays for people and nature,” he said. “The report highlights very clearly that we need more, faster, and better action to prevent, reduce, and restore land degradation.”
So what might such necessary and urgent action look like? According to the report, if we instead restore 35 percent of our land area – that’s 5 billion hectares, which is five times the global area currently pledged for restoration – agricultural productivity will increase, while carbon stocks will rise due to gains in soil carbon and reduced total emissions.
Soil water holding capacity will increase by 4 percent in rainfed croplands, and while biodiversity will continue to decline, 11 percent of total biodiversity loss will be averted.
“Investing in large-scale land restoration is a powerful, cost-effective tool to combat desertification, soil erosion, and loss of agricultural production,” Thiaw said. “As a finite resource and our most valuable natural asset, we cannot afford to continue taking land for granted.”
Better still, if we both restore degraded land and conserve key natural areas, an additional 83 gigatonnes of carbon would be stored compared to the baseline – equivalent to more than seven years of total current global emissions.
Around a third of the biodiversity loss projected in the baseline would be prevented, and an additional 4 million square kms of natural areas (the size of India and Pakistan) would be gained, with the largest increases expected in South and Southeast Asia and Latin America.
“Land is the operative link between biodiversity loss and climate change, and therefore must be the primary focus of any meaningful intervention to tackle these intertwined crises,” said Andrea Meza Murillo, deputy executive secretary at UNCCD.
“Restoring degraded land and soil provides fertile ground on which to take immediate and concerted action.”
The report found that the economic returns of restoring land and reducing degradation, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss would be immense – up to $125 or $140 trillion a year.
The investments required to do so would be minimal in comparison to the annual $700 billion in perverse subsidies given to the fossil fuel and agricultural industries: to meet current pledges to restore a billion hectares in the next decade, for instance, would require repurposing just $1.6 trillion of that sum.
Given the U.N. Decade for Restoration (2021-2030) has just begun, Thiaw is hopeful that such a shift will be timely and actionable.
As the world races to mitigate global warming, agricultural expansion generally characterized by the practice of slash and burn has been identified as the topmost driver of deforestation that leads to carbon emission in the world’s largest carbon sink. In a new report titled Congo Basin Forests – State of the Forests 2021 produced by the Central Africa Forest Observatory (OFAC), experts say population growth puts fresh pressure on the forests of Central Africa and consequently reduce carbon stock as thousands of arrival of agrarian households into forest areas leads to clearing to establish farmlands. The experts also listed logging, territorial development, land use, governance and need for energy as other factors driving deforestation.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH have signed an agreement with the Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) for a USD 79.3 million project (USD 35.2 million in GCF financing), to address a much-needed transition to the climate resilient management of forests and landscapes at scale.
GCF and the World Bank have signed an instrumental legal agreement to rapidly begin implementing the second phase of a renewable energy facility. It will support nine countries in meeting their NDC commitments while increasing access to electricity for the most vulnerable populations. The mitigation/adaptation cross-cutting Facility aims to also increase the reliability of the grid infrastructure, improving the country’s economic resilience, and the resilience of vulnerable households to better adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change.
On 5 January 2023, during the ceremony to present New Year’s greetings to the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou N’Guesso reiterated the announcement he had made at the 27th United Nations Climate Conference (COP27) in Egypt. In his capacity as president of the Congo Basin Climate Commission, he announced that the summit of the world’s three major forest basins would be held in Brazzaville in June 2023. The Congo Basin in Central Africa, the Amazon Basin in South America and the Borneo Mekong Basin in Southeast Asia.
As part of an effort to operationalize an integrated landscape approach in southern Zambia, the COLANDS (Collaborating to operationalize landscape approaches for nature, development, and sustainability) initiative has been developing and applying new tools and techniques designed to understand and integrate stakeholder visions for the Kalomo Hills Forest Reserve landscape.
The thirty-fifth meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board has ended with the approval of USD 587.7 million in new climate finance for developing nations, as well as the selection of a new Executive Director. Mafalda Duarte has been selected as the next Executive Director of GCF, with Henry Gonzalez, GCF Deputy Executive Director, appointed to serve as interim Executive Director until Duarte starts her tenure with GCF. The outgoing Executive Director Yannick Glemarec is reaching the end of his four-year term and will leave GCF on 2 April 2023.
“Working on gender issues requires the ability to understand questions such as ‘why’ and ‘how’,” said Stibniati Atmadja, Ethiopia’s Country Lead for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)’s Women’s Land Rights Initiative (WLR). “Qualitative data is key for this – but collecting and analyzing such data is a major skill gap in many countries.”
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board has selected Mafalda Duarte as its new Executive Director. Following an extensive global recruitment process, the Board made the selection during its thirty-fifth meeting at the GCF headquarters in Songdo, Incheon, Republic of Korea.
For developing countries who are part of the UN’s REDD+ scheme (to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks), establishing baseline forest reference emission levels (FREL) is essential obligation to track progress towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. FREL covers emissions from deforestation and – in some countries – from forest degradation and peat decomposition. In countries like Indonesia, Peru, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Republic of Congo (RoC), that have large amounts of standing forest – and which can contribute significantly to a country’s emissions due to land-use change – these reference levels are particularly critical.
Ghana has become the second country in Africa after Mozambique to receive payments from a World Bank trust fund for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, commonly known as REDD+. The World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) paid Ghana $4,862,280 for reducing 972,456 tons of carbon emissions for the first monitoring period under the program (June to December 2019).
Paris, 27 February 2023 – The One Forest Summit will be held in Libreville, Gabon, on 01-02 March, with the goal of making progress on climate action and protecting biodiversity by promoting solidarity between the three major forest basins of the world. Director General Audrey Azoulay will attend to highlight UNESCO’s unique mandate to protect forest areas and numerous conservation programs.
Mungu Amurinde Jeanne d’Arc, a resident of Rubavu District in the Western Province of Rwanda has expressed special gratitude to the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame for the positive impacts brought by the Sebeya Catchment conservation project.
Baroness Scotland is head of the Commonwealth Secretariat - the organisation's main intergovernmental agency. Getty Image. The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, will be in Gabon from Wednesday 1 March to highlight the importance of protecting global biodiversity at the One Forest Summit in Libreville on Thursday.
The SOF 2021 four-part report highlights facts and figures on the Congo basin forests recognized worldwide for their essential role in carbon sequestration and the conservation of biological diversity. It also provides considerations that will guide decisions on forest management.
Following an initial call for proposals launched in March 2022, the RESSAC coordination committee is calling on scientific and academic institutions from Central African and European countries, as well as on forest and environmental resource managers from Central Africa, to form a grouping and submit research proposals for RESSAC funding. For this second call for proposals, the RESSAC programme will favour research proposals relating to the social and/or economic sciences. Proposals should be sent by 15 April 2023 at the latest.
For decades, Lake Chad has remained a mainstay for the Basin’s 45-50 million people, most of whom are fishermen, farmers, herders, and petty traders who depend on the Lake for their livelihoods and economic well-being. However, over the years, the combined effects of the Lake’s shrinking and variability due to climate change has resulted in the increasing loss of livelihood for the region.
Niamey is hosting a high-level international conference on the Lake Chad Basin since 23 January 2023. Co-organized by Germany, Norway, the United Nations System (OCHA, UNDP) and Niger (host country), this two-day meeting brings together the governments of the region (Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon) as well as international donors and partners, multilateral and international organizations.
The commitment was made during the High-Level Conference on the Lake Chad Region held in Niamey from 23 – 24 January 2023. The two-day Conference brought together over 30 countries, international organisations, and more than 100 civil society organisations in the capital of Niger. The Conference aimed to ensure that the people of this hard-hit region have humanitarian assistance and protection and foster solutions for durable solutions, including the voluntary return, reintegration, and resettlement of returnees and displaced persons (refugees band internally displaced persons) in a dignified manner.
Should the international community pay tropical forest countries for services to humanity? The countries concerned frequently request such payments to compensate for their loss of revenue as a result of being unable to convert forest areas to farmland and mining operations. The authors of the latest IDDRI Issue Brief are calling for "payments for environmental services" schemes to be included in a broader co-investment for sustainable development approach.
Agroecology sets out to make use of biodiversity and boost soil health to make farming systems more resilient. How can we apply those principles to crop protection? Can we do without ? What sort of research is still needed? An international team of around 50 researchers gives some answers in a reference article in the journal Advances in Agronomy.
The Carbon & Biodiversity Commission regularly reviews relevant news and information on carbon and biodiversity and prepares a summary. We share with you here the main points of the 6th watch. The newsletter is available on request for ATIBT members.
The threshold of 10 million hectares certified as being under sustainable management should be crossed in 2025, according to the analysis of forest certification data in the Congo Basin carried out by the ATIBT Certification Commission. This is also an opportunity to look at the incentives for certification in the different countries.
Over a decade from the adoption of seven safeguard principles for REDD+ by the United Nations 2010 Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP16), the national implementation of two safeguards that address Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPs and LCs) remains a work in progress.
Wild mammals, reptiles, birds and insects are eaten by people worldwide. But overhunting – driven mainly by the demand for wild meat in urban centres – is threatening hundreds of wildlife species with extinction. It also risks cutting off millions of families from a critical source of nutrition, especially Indigenous Peoples and local communities in tropical and subtropical regions. Widespread commercial trade further complicates the issue.
On 9 March 2023 representatives of the European Parliament’s Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) Working Group, the Greens/EFA and Fern will host an event “How Partnerships complement the EU Deforestation Regulation: A discussion on the EU Strategic Framework for Partnerships”. Speakers will include representatives from Tropical Forested countries, European Policymakers and civil society actors and the discussions will focus on the elements that would make Partnerships a success.
Caught between climate change and ever-growing global demand for wood, natural tropical forests are more vulnerable than ever. We urgently need to find new sources of timber, particularly since the current sustainability criteria are failing to guarantee stand renewal. Plinio Sist, Head of CIRAD's Forests and Societies research unit, looks at the alternatives.
After several decades in Cameroon, and despite their significant contribution to agricultural research and development in Cameroon, the CGIAR Centers and their achievements are still not well known in the country. The centers organized an open day in Yaoundé on 19 January to amplify CGIAR and its partners’ actions to transform food systems in Cameroon and beyond while enhancing environmental health and biodiversity, despite the ongoing climate crisis.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated on 11 February, recognizes the often overlooked contributions of women scientists. Research shows that despite a shortage of skills in most technological areas, gender disparity still exists in the field. Women make up less than a third of the workforce across science, technology and engineering. Women scientists are typically given smaller research grants than their male colleagues, and their work tends to be underrepresented in high-profile journals.
Drought is one of nature's costliest disasters – across the globe, more frequent and prolonged droughts are up nearly by a third since 2000. No country or region is immune to their impacts, which cost the global economy billions of dollars each year and range from the loss of life, livelihoods and biodiversity to water and food insecurity, disruption in the energy, transportation and tourism sectors, as well as forced migration, displacement and conflicts over scarce resources.
Gracing every continent of the Earth, wetlands are essential to the planet’s health, often compared to its vital organs, acting as arteries that carry water and as kidneys that filter harmful substances. Wetlands serve as the watchful sentinels of our wellbeing: they form protective barriers against tsunamis and sponge up the excess rainfall to reduce flood surges.
Bonn, Germany, 10 February 2023 – Today, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Korea Forest Service of the Republic of Korea signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to further support Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).
Addressing the UN General Assembly (UNGA), UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted his priorities for 2023. Describing 2023 as “a year of reckoning,” he urged Member States to change the mindset of decision making from near-term thinking to long-term thinking and develop a strategic vision to act decisively “in deep and systemic ways.”
The resumed first meeting of the ad hoc Open-ended Working Group on a Science-Policy Panel for Chemicals, Waste, and Pollution (OEWG 1.2) continued its task of developing a science-policy panel, which will help scientists and policymakers inform one another on these issues. Delegates agreed on capacity building as a new function of the panel.
Permanent Representatives of Ireland and Qatar to the UN convened an informal meeting to hear delegates’ preliminary views on the scope and substance of the political declaration to be adopted by the 2023 SDG Summit in September. The co-facilitators also outlined their approach to the consultation process and timing of future meetings.
Peru has recognized the role of Indigenous Amazonian Peoples for ensuring the sustainable use of one the world’s most biodiverse biomes and realising its climate and conservation plans. However, community forest management, or CFM, has struggled to deliver on its promise of environmental and livelihood improvements. In Peru, as in many other tropical forest countries, communities are often unable to comply with forestry regulations and are pushed to the informal sector, where unjust commercial relations and unsustainable practices predominate.