Land and its soil are vital to humankind. Soil resources are a complex mixture of eroded rock, minerals, ions, partially decomposed organic material, water, air, roots, fungi, animals, and microorganisms, formed over thousands or even millions of years. Land degradation—the deterioration or loss of the productive capacity of soil—is a global challenge that affects everyone through food insecurity, higher food prices, climate change, environmental hazards, and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Globally, approximately 25% of total land area is already degraded. As land becomes degraded, carbon and nitrous oxide are released into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change. Approximately 24 billion tons of fertile soil is lost each year, largely due to unsustainable agriculture practices. If this trend continues, 95% of the Earth’s land areas could become degraded by 2050. Land degradation is particularly severe in the drylands, which cover approximately 40% of the world’s land area and support two billion people, especially women and children.

Events and Articles

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62nd Meeting of the GEF Council

GEF Council Members endorsed the more than USD 5 billion replenishment for the next four-year period of the GEF and adopted Work Programs worth more than USD 238 million, launching projects that will contribute to a green and blue recovery and direct significant resources to small island developing States and least developed countries.
Event 21 June 2022 - 23 June 2022

Rio Conventions Pavilion at UNCCD COP 15

The Rio Conventions Pavilion, supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), sought to contribute to this effort through a series of events which aimed to increase ambition to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change, restore and maintain healthy landscapes, and establish a post-2020 global biodiversity framework to halt biodiversity loss.
Event 10 May 2022 - 18 May 2022

15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD (COP 15)

Following two weeks of high-level discussions and negotiations, delegates adopted 38 decisions to improve drought resilience, reduce land degradation, invest in land restoration efforts, and improve synergies with the climate change and biodiversity conventions.
Conference of the Parties (COP) 9 May 2022 - 20 May 2022

Launching Event of the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development

The launching event of the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development, 2022, aimed to raise awareness of the importance of mountains for sustainable development. Speakers drew attention to the ecosystem services that mountain ecosystems provide and the challenges mountain communities face, including in the context of climate change.
Event 28 April 2022

2nd Extraordinary Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD

Convening under a “silence procedure,” the parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification adopted its 2022 budget, ensuring the Convention and the Secretariat will continue to operate until the Conference of the Parties can convene in 2022.
Conference of the Parties (COP) 6 December 2021 - 9 December 2021

60th Meeting of the GEF Council

The 60th meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council adopted a Work Program worth USD 281.1 million that includes eight stand-alone full-sized projects on international waters, four on biodiversity, three on climate change mitigation, and two on chemicals and waste.
Event 14 June 2021 - 18 June 2021

How to Make Hybrid Meetings Work

All three Rio Conventions announced in-person meetings for the final quarter of 2021. The trio of organizations—UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)—all seem to be going ahead full steam. The UNFCCC Bureau just announced it will hold three weeks of informal talks in June and agreed decision making is an in-person affair, to occur at the next formal meeting. (The day after this article was originally published, the UNCCD announced its COP will take place in 2022. A virtual ExCOP will adopt an interim budget this year.)