Global Drylands: A UN System-wide Response Report Launched at UNCCD COP 10

20 October 2011: The report "Global Drylands: A UN System-wide Response," which was prepared by 18 UN agencies through the Environment Management Group (EMG), was launched during a side event at the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 10).

At the launch, UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja noted the importance of "coming together as one UN" to implement the UNCCD, and highlighted functional and thematic areas for cooperation identified in the report. Regarding next steps, he noted an implementation plan with joint efforts in the lead up to the UN Conference Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) and a report to COP 11 were envisaged.

Hossein Fadaei, EMG, said the report seeks to provide a positive image of drylands and opportunities for investment. He invited feedback on the report and ideas for follow-up. Jessica Smith, UN Environment Programme - World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), on behalf of the EMG, presented the report's key messages, including that drylands offer opportunities for local populations and provide regional and global benefits, and that the UN is uniquely positioned to promoted investments in drylands.

Developed following calls by governments for a UN system-wide response to land challenges, a central element of the common agenda is the need to address the underlying causes of land degradation and create enabling conditions for the sustainable development of drylands. Key findings include: dryland biodiversity provides important ecosystem services that benefit local communities; drylands have contributed much to ecosystem services including pharmaceuticals and raw materials; drylands can have major global climate benefits; and the potential benefits that drylands may offer have not been fully used due to myths about drylands along with market failures, weak incentives, high investment costs, gender inequalities, and social marginalization of dryland populations. [IISD RS Sources] [EMG Webpage on Land Issue Management Group] [Publication: Global Drylands: A UN System-wide Response] [UNEP Press Release]