On May 9-20, 2022, the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) which was hosted by Côte d’Ivoire for the 1st time at its Sofitel Abidjan Hôtel Ivoire in Abidjan on the theme ‘Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity’. The theme calls for action to ensure land continues to benefit present and future generations.
- H.E. President Alassane Ouattara host the UNCCD’s COP15.
- This conference, held pursuant to provisions contained in decision 33/COP.14, saw the round tables and interactive dialogue sessions among ministers and other high-ranking officials.
- Negotiations were focused on the work of the 15th session of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST15), 20th session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC20), and other major issues included in the programme of work of the COP.
- This is the first UNCCD COP since the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030) began.
Focus of COP15:
It focused on the future of land management by galvanizing sustainable solutions for land restoration and drought resilience, and future-proofing land use.
This two-week meeting was attended by nearly 7,000 participants, including Heads of State, ministers, delegates from the UNCCD’s 196 Parties and the European Union (EU), as well as members of the private sector, civil society, women, youth leaders and media.
India’s MoEF&CC Minister Bhupender Yadav led the Indian delegation at UNCCD COP15
The Indian delegation was led by the Union Minister Bhupender Yadav, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) which highlighted the developments during India’s presidency.
- It should be noted that India had hosted the UNCCD COP-14 on September 2-13, 2019, at New Delhi, Delhi and is serving as its President for 2019-2022.
- During COP14, India raised its target of restoring degraded land from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares by 2030.
Significant Developments during India’s presidency:
Despite the COVID-19, India during its presidency made significant contributions in bringing the nations together towards the global goal of halting and reversing land degradation which includes the following.
i.G-20 (Group of Twenty) leaders recognized the importance of combating land degradation and creating new carbon sinks, put up an aspirational goal to collectively plant 1 trillion trees by 2030.
ii.For the first time, an Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on effective policy and implementation measures for addressing drought under UNCCD was established by decision 23/COP.14.
- A draft report on this was discussed during the current session of COP15.
UNCCD COP15 adopts 38 Decisions
The UNCCD COP15 adopted 38 decisions, including on tenure, migration and gender that highlight the role of land in addressing multiple crises. The other key decisions are as follows:
i.They agreed to establish an IWG on Drought for 2022-2024 to look into possible options, including global policy instruments and regional policy frameworks, to support drought management.
ii.The also agreed to accelerate the restoration of one billion hectares of degraded land by 2030.
- Notably, 40% of earth’s land is degraded. This will directly affect half of humanity and is a threat to about 50 percent of global GDP or around $44 trillion.
iii.Focusing on improving data gathering and monitoring to track progress against the achievement of land restoration commitments.
iv.Establishing new partnership models for large-scale integrated landscape investment programs.
v.Addressing forced migration and displacement driven by desertification and land degradation by creating social and economic opportunities.
vi.Prioritizing women’s involvement in land management for effective land restoration.
vii.Addressing sand and dust storms and other escalating disaster risks by designing and implementing policies including early warning and risk assessment, etc.
vii.Promoting decent land-based jobs for youth and land-based youth entrepreneurship and strengthen youth participation in the UNCCD process
viii.Ensure greater synergies among the three Rio Conventions.
3 Declarations issued during COP15:
The significant outcomes of the COP15 included the following three key declarations:
i.The Abidjan Call issued by the Heads of State and Government attending the Summit hosted by Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara on May 9, 2022.
ii.Abidjan Declaration on achieving gender equality for successful land restoration, which emerged from the Gender Caucus chaired by the First Lady of Ivory Coast, Dominique Ouattara.
iii.The COP15 Land, Life and Legacy Declaration, which responds to the findings of the UNCCD’s flagship report, Global Land Outlook (GLO) 2.
Reports Released during COP-15:
Following are the reports released during COP15 which UNCCD publications:
i.Drought in Numbers, 2022 which calls the world to prioritize drought preparedness and resilience.
ii.Southern Africa Thematic Report which highlights rising pressures on land and land-based resources. It is a part of the Global Land Outlook (GLO) series.
iii.Differentiated Impacts of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought on Women and Men revealing women are twice more affected by these issues.
iv.Sand and Dust Storms Compendium, an Information and guidance on assessing and addressing the economic, environmental and health risks of these increasing phenomena.
Apart from above, a Business for Land initiative; Sahel Sourcing Challenge, and Droughtland, a new UNCCD public awareness campaign that aims to showcase solutions and rally global action on drought were also launched during the summit.
i.The Science Policy Interface (SPI) hosted a Science-Day at UNCCD COP15 Rio Conventions Pavilion.
- Rio Conventions Pavilion hosted its first-ever Food Day
ii.The 15th session of the CST convenes at UNCCD COP15. Its Chair is Masuku Bongani from Eswatini
iii.The US$2.5 billion raised for the Abidjan Legacy Programme launched by Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara, which has already surpassed the US$1.5 billion anticipated for it.
COP15 brings together leaders from governments, the private sector, civil society and other key stakeholders from around the world to drive progress in the future sustainable management of one of our most precious commodities: land.
- The COP is the decision making body of the Convention.
- UNCCD’s COP15 is the first COP of the three Rio Conventions taking place in 2022, ahead of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP27 in November 2022 in South Sinai, Egypt; and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15.
About United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD):
Executive Secretary– Ibrahim Thiaw (Mauritania)
Headquarters– Bonn, Germany