Since 2000, the number and severity of droughts has increased 29% worldwide, according to a UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) report released today. Following that trajectory, by 2030 an estimated 700 million people will be at risk of being displaced by drought.
With the challenge of droughts rising on the global political agenda, the international community is responding with policy measures and actions to help the most vulnerable act early to avoid loss of life and livelihoods, as well as damage to property and ecosystems. "Drought Day" at the Rio Conventions Pavilion at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the UNCCD put a spotlight on many of these necessary steps, with various stakeholders exploring how to transform political commitments to action on drought resilience. It showcased effective drought response policies and projects on the ground from around the world and delivered a call to action to the COP.
Specifically, Drought Day sought to:
- showcase examples of effective national and regional policies and projects that improve drought resilience;
- highlight the role of recent technologies, including satellite imagery and artificial intelligence, in delivering data for early warnings and timely decision making;
- exemplify how to channel sustainable finance into nature-positive, bankable projects that contribute to drought resilience;
- present a summary of the UNCCD’s Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought’s (IWG) report and its recommendations;
- highlight tangible actions to enhance multi-stakeholder coordination and partnerships; and
- deliver key messages to UNCCD COP15 on these objectives.
Throughout the day, speakers noted the substantial progress made within the last decade by the UNCCD on policymaker awareness and uptake of disaster risk reduction steps relating to drought. The co-benefits of land restoration for climate change adaptation and biodiversity restoration were also often central in the spirit of the Rio Conventions Pavilion. Still, the projections of drought severity increase under different global warming scenarios, which added a sober note to each session and presenters' frequent calls for action.
An opening high-level session was followed by four thematic sessions that:
- showcased examples of effective national and regional policies and projects that improve drought resilience;
- focused on early warning and action systems, highlighting the role of new technologies, including satellite imagery and artificial intelligence, in delivering input and analysis for timely decision making;
- addressed sustainable finance and ways to channel in into nature-positive bankable projects that contribute to drought resilience; and
- examined lessons learned from the High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policies (HMNDP) in March 2013) and discussed a possible multi-partner 2023 High-level Meeting on Drought (HMNDP+10).
A working lunch break saw the launch of new publications on droughts, including:
- Drought in Numbers 2022, which provides an authoritative compendium of updated drought-related information and data;
- Drought and Water Scarcity, which examines the links between the two issues in the context of accelerating climate change;
- A Rapid Review of Drought Risk Mitigation Measures, which offers an overview of the wealth of mitigation measures available;
- A Rapid Review of Effective Financing for Policy, Implementation and Partnerships Addressing Drought Risks, which presents an overview of current knowledge and thinking on the effectiveness of three distinct layers of financing to address drought risks in different ways; and
- an IWG Blue Paper.
The Rio Conventions Pavilion is taking place from 10-18 May on the sidelines of UNCCD COP 15 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.