Photo: Women planting to combat desertification. Credit: UNCCD - Photo: 2017

Launch of the Fund to Fight Desertification a Key Achievement

By Rita Joshi

BONN (IDN) – The official launch of the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Fund is an outstanding achievement for the United Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 2017. It is a first-of-its-kind investment vehicle leveraging public sector funds to raise private sector capital for sustainable land management and landscape restoration activities worldwide.

It was launched during the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD (COP13) held in Ordos, China, in September 2017, which adopted 36 decisions and one resolution, including the new UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework with an initial target size of USD 100 million.

120 heads of state and government attended the presentation of the LDN Fund at One Planet Summit in Paris on December 12. The Fund became one of the initiatives supported by the Summit, with the protection of land and water resources from the effects of climate change being the second of the Summit’s twelve engagements.

114 countries committed to set the voluntary Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets. Among them, more than 50 countries had already set these targets and were advancing towards the development of LDN transformative projects and programmes tapping innovative finance. 17 international partners are supporting countries in this journey.

According to the Bonn-based UNCCD Secretariat, the Fund has turned the traditional approach to investment on its head: boldly uniting project leaders, farmers, public and private investors to redefine healthy and productive land as an asset. It has encouraged public funders to secure the risk taken by private investors – to achieve measurable sustainable impact on the ground.

The LDN Fund is well placed to kick start a revolution in sustainable development and entrepreneurship and accelerate progress to cover 25% of the gap left to meet the Paris Agreement, the UNCCD Secretariat said in a press release. “In the process, it can help achieve multi-benefits for the planet, including creating millions of green sector jobs, boosting food security and increasing adaptation and resilience to climate change.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said in his statement closing the One Planet Summit: “Here, several concrete measures have been taken to mobilize the 300 million United States dollars needed to activate the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund, that is, the Fund to combat land degradation and desertification. France, Canada and other partners announced funds to realize actions aiming to reading land degradation neutrality by 2030, an attainable objective if in the next few weeks we can raise the USD300 million needed to realize the fund.”

Canada’s Fondaction, a retirement savings plan by workers in Quebec, followed swiftly with an announcement on December 13 that it will contribute USD10 million to the Fund, making it the first private sector investor to join the Fund.

Fondaction is joining the European Investment Bank, French Agency for Development, the Government of Luxembourg, Global Environment Facility, WWF Global Fund and French Foundation which have so far contributed a total of US100 million,” said Leopold Beaulieu, President and Director-General of Fondaction.

“Combatting land degradation is one of the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Fondaction is a Fund for workers, whose objective since inception in 1996, is to encourage the creation and maintenance of jobs with a perspective of sustainable development. Today, all of our investments aim to encourage, promote and support sustainable development. The knowledge and expertise we have gained over more than 20 years explains why we are the first private investor to respond favorably to the LDN Fund initiative,” he added.

President Macron also announced actions in agricultural and solar technologies that would enhance the UNCCD’s global efforts to ensure that by 2030 and going forward, the amount of degraded land is equivalent to or less that the land we had degraded by 2015 when the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted.

Among other achievements in 2017 is UNCCD first-ever COP Youth Forum which attracted more than 200 participants from 25 countries around the world.

On June 17, the World Day to Combat Desertification, three Presidents in West Africa – Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – urged solidarity and responsibility of international community in land rehabilitation and sustainable land management, and endorsed a Call for Action on land-based jobs to tackle Africa’s challenges.

The Science-Policy Interface (SPI) produced two technical reports and two science-policy brief on the topics of LDN, Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change. This work led to the publication of a scientific journal article and to the endorsement by COP13 of the Scientific Conceptual Framework for LDN.

Besides, said a Convention’s spokesperson, UNCCD library has reached close to 15,000 knowledge product subscribers with 11 publications, 20 news alerts and ten press releases.

Three winners of the Land for Life Award from India, Sudan and China were honoured at a special ceremony in Ordos, China, attended by more than 300 people.

The UNCCD Capacity Building Marketplace held two major exhibitions, offered four e-learning training courses for national focal points (NFPs) and other stakeholders, delivered 10 lectures, held a global video competition, conducted a panel discussion on LDN and SLM that brought together over 60 participants from 10 universities, established formal working partnerships with 15 civil society organization (CSOs) and in the second half of the year registered a 400 per cent increase in CBM offers in Spanish and French. [IDN-InDepthNews – 24 December 2017]

Photo: Women planting to combat desertification. Credit: UNCCD

IDN is the flagship of International Press Syndicate. –

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