The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was signed in 1994 based on recommendations of article 21 of the Rio Conventions which was held in 1992.
Alongside the UN Convention Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), these three conventions are also known as the Rio Conventions.
What is desertification?
Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations. Desertification does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts.
It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of the world‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to over-exploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land. Over 250 million people are directly affected by desertification, and about one billion people in over one hundred countries are at risk. These people include many of the world‘s poorest
Combating desertification is essential to ensuring the long-term productivity of inhabited drylands. Unfortunately, the problem of land degradation continues to worsen around the world. The UNCCD was established to address this issue. It aims to promote effective action through innovative local programmes and supportive international partnerships.
UNCCD also acknowledges the constraints to protect drylands and there will be no quick fix solution. This is because the causes of desertification are many and complex, ranging from international trade patterns to unsustainable land management practices. As the dynamics of land, climate and biodiversity are intimately connected, the UNCCD collaborates closely with the other two Rio Conventions; the UNCBD and UNFCCC, to meet these complex challenges with an integrated approach and the best possible use of natural resources
UNCCD is recognized as a unique instrument that will bring attention to land degradation in the drylands where there exist some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and people in the world. An instrument which can make a lasting contribution to the achievement of sustainable development and poverty reduction globally.
UNCCD in Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands acceded to this convention in 1999. The focal point of the UNCCD is Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.
Solomon Islands has a draft National Action Program (NAP) which is the key instrument to implement the convention. The NAP spells out the practical steps and measures to to combat desertification in specific eco-systems.
Relevance of UNCCD to REDD+
The UNCCD invites all Parties to adopt and scale up sustainable forest management policies and practices to prevent soil erosion and flooding, to increase carbon sinks, and to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity (decision 4/COP.8).
The UNCCD, being the sole legally-binding instrument on land and soil, recognizes the importance and potential for REDD+ in drylands to contribute to land degradation neutrality, sustainable economic growth, poverty eradication and other urgent goals pledged at the Rio+20 conference. Moreover, the UNCCD is one of the founding institutions of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), a policy forum and partnership on all types of forests, including dry forests.
In collaboration with other organizations of the CPF, the UNCCD facilitates the UNFCCC, UNFF and other processes related to REDD+.
To foster SLM/SFM with the aim of climate change mitigation and adaptation, the UNCCD COP10 adopted the Advocacy Policy Framework (APF) on Climate Change which invites Parties to include considerations on DLDD in their national REDD+ processes. In addition, the UNCCD secretariat encourages country Parties to include REDD+ strategies in their National Action Programmes (NAPs) to combat DLDD and build synergies between DLDD, climate change and biodiversity activities.