A bi-monthly update on the work of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)


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In this issue







From the Executive Secretary
Economics must go green, also with regard to land management practices. My message for Rio+20: The world has to become land-degradation-neutral. More…

Publications and Multimedia More…

Rio+20: The (land-degradation-neutral) future we want
Desertification and land degradation must be incorporated as important elements in the Rio+20 agenda in pursuit of a green economy. More…

Water, energy and food security
From silo thinking to systemic approaches. More…

Limited land, rising demand: Ways out of the dead end
Jeremy Oppenheim, sustainability expert at McKinsey & Company, shares his views on sustainable land use, waste and the power of consumers for a green economy. More…

Grassroots green economy: Sustainable cookstoves for Burkina Faso
A solar bread oven designed in Burkina Faso provides an alternative to using wood fires for cooking and supports the country’s efforts to build a green economy. More…


Revisiting Rio: Towards sustainable land use
for all and by all

The “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 was a landmark in the global efforts to preserve our planet’s health. Twenty years later, in June 2012, the world will gather in Rio again for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). By promoting a systemic shift towards a green economy, it is committed to setting another milestone on the way to sustainable development.

In the twenty years between the two Summits in 1992 and 2012, major changes have occurred, both positive and negative: The topics of the three Rio Conventions – desertification/land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss – have become an integral part of the international political agenda. Countless initiatives have been launched and people all over the globe have become conscious of global sustainability needs.

Yet the magnitude of the Earth’s environmental challenges is still increasing. The imperative to ensure sustainable use of land remains unclear to many people. The percentage of Earth’s land area stricken by serious drought has more than doubled from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Land degradation directly affects 1.5 billion people globally and 75 billion tonnes of fertile soil, which is the most significant non-renewable geo-resource, disappear every year.

These facts make it very clear that we must act now. A key option for promoting a sustainable future is a strategy to replace our outdated economic behaviour and understanding of what constitutes economic success. 52 per cent of the land used for agriculture today is moderately or severely affected by land degradation. However, sustainable land practices are a key element of the long-term sustainability of our society. We have to make use of this opportunity, which implies a major paradigm shift in modern agriculture. We should not waste any more time, as the environmental, social and economic costs of our unsustainable land use practices are becoming more obvious every day.

Sustainable land practices are a key element of the long-term sustainability of our society.

In pursuing our goals, a concerted effort is vital. Policy-makers, the business community and civil society will have to pull together. I am particularly pleased that Jeremy Oppenheim from McKinsey & Company shares his views on a green economy from an economic perspective in the interview in this issue of UNCCD News. But a concerted effort also implies pursuing a broader approach encompassing various topics which are interdependent. Our special report on “Water, energy and food security – from silo thinking to systemic approaches” therefore advocates for “joined-up” thinking. You cannot think water without addressing soil, you cannot think food security without addressing land management and you cannot think energy without addressing deforestation.

Rio+20 will provide a rare opportunity to redefine what we mean by economic success and growth, and to draft a roadmap for the short- and long-term future. The economy must go green in many respects, also through enhancing land management practices. My message for Rio+20 is clear: We have no other option in the long run – the world has to become land-degradation-neutral. The international community must set itself a development goal which calls for sustainable land use for all and by all in agriculture, forestry, energy, with two main targets:

Rio+20 will provide a rare opportunity to redefine what we mean by economic success and growth.

  • Target 1: Zero net land degradation by 2030
  • Target 2: Zero net forest degradation by 2030

Impact indicators developed in the context of the UNCCD process and approved by UNCCD COP could be applied here.

Rio+20 might not change the world within a few days. But it can provide direction, give us hope and unite the world behind its common vision of a healthy Earth and a prosperous future for humankind.

Luc Gnacadja
Executive Secretary

World Day to Combat Desertification promotes
a land-degradation-neutral world

On 17 June 2012, people around the globe will observe the World Day to Combat Desertification. Its slogan will be “Healthy soil sustains your life: LET’S GO LAND-DEGRADATION NEUTRAL”. The global celebration is planned in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, only three days before the Rio+20 Summit, which will be held on 20 to 22 June 2012.

On the occasion of the slogan presentation, UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja said about the objective of a land-degradation-neutral world: “This target can be achieved by sustaining healthy soil and restoring degraded land. We should start with drylands, which support half of the world’s food production systems and are highly vulnerable to desertification, and then adopt successful practices elsewhere.”


Rio+20: The (land-degradation-neutral) future we want

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) – also known as Rio+20 and due to take place in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 – will be the culmination of many years of global sustainable development efforts. Stakeholders from various fields are preparing for this major event, and they have very high expectations. They know that Rio+20 will set the bar for the international community’s progress towards sustainable development for the next decades. The Conference will focus on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication as well as on the institutional framework for sustainable development.

For the UNCCD, the Rio+20 Summit has particular significance. It was during the first Rio Summit in 1992 (the Earth Summit) that the idea of a Convention to combat desertification and to mitigate the impacts of drought was born. Twenty years later, the Summit in Rio de Janeiro will focus on the green economy. Healthy soils, which are the UNCCD’s core mission, play a key role in the context of this important meeting. Through addressing desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), the majority of the poor and the most vulnerable have much better chances to adapt to climate change and become more resilient against poverty and hunger. UNCCD’s submission to the Preparatory Process for the Rio+20 Conference stated: “If we do not take bold actions to protect, restore and manage land and soils sustainably, we will miss climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity, forests and MDGs targets ... This will lead to consequences including more political conflicts over scarce resources and continued forced migrations.”

Addressing land degradation and drought will assist the poor to become more resilient against hunger.

Desertification and land degradation on the Rio+20 agenda

Desertification and land degradation must be incorporated as important elements in the Rio+20 agenda in pursuit of a green economy in the context of sustainable development. Actions can be taken in the following areas:

  • 1. The international community should commit to the global target of a zero net rate of land degradation within a given timeframe. In practice, this would require action to prevent the new degradation of currently still healthy soils and to rehabilitate and restore degraded land. “We know that this is an ambitious target, but at the same time, we are truly convinced that it is attainable, ” says Sergio Zelaya, UNCCD Coordinator of Policy for Advocacy on Global Issues.

  • 2. Because sustainable land management (SLM) is a key element for attaining sustainable development in rural areas, Rio+20 should promote its mainstreaming into a green economy approach. Sustainable land management is well suited to restore the economic productivity of degraded land and to maintain the productivity of healthy soils as it values the importance of soil as a natural capital and the services it provides to land users. The UNCCD assigns SLM an important role in promoting sustainable conservation agriculture and considers it to be a major strategic component of poverty alleviation.

  • 3. Effective action in mitigating the impacts of droughts and the fight against desertification and land degradation need a strong interface between science and policy-making. A mechanism is needed to bring together independent experts from a broad range of disciplines and with diverse geographical experience to critically evaluate existing scientific information on the state, trends, drivers and impacts of soil and land degradation. “Rio+20 must lay the basis for a global dialogue that will bring a global scientific authority on soil and land on its way,” Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, envisions.

Rio+20 should promote mainstreaming sustainable land management into a green economy approach.

  • 4. The UNCCD, in cooperation with a growing number of political and scientific partner organisations, continues promoting the development of economic approaches to DLDD through the initiative Economics of Land Degradation (ELD). This approach aims to increase public awareness of the costs and benefits of individual and collective decisions affecting land and land-based ecosystems, raise land stewardship or sustainable land management to a higher level of priority on global and national agendas and translate economic, social and ecological knowledge into practical tools.

An initial direction for the Conference outcomes

In January 2012, the United Nations released the draft document that will be negotiated during the Rio+20 Conference. This Zero Draft dedicates two paragraphs to land degradation and desertification:

  • 92. We recognize the economic and social significance of land, particularly its contribution to growth, food security, and poverty eradication, and note that the intensity of desertification of most of Africa’s arable land is a serious challenge to sustainable development in the region. We call for enhanced support by the international community to the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
  • 93. We agree to support partnerships and initiatives for the safeguarding of soil resources such as the Global Soil Partnership (GSP). We also encourage scientific studies and initiatives aimed at raising wider awareness of the economic benefits of sustainable land management policies that achieve healthy and productive land and soil.

All submissions to the Zero Draft were the subject of an analysis by the Stakeholder Forum. It assessed the level of interest in 97 specific items. The results show that “desertification” occurs in 113 of the 677 submission and ranks among the top 20 items. The Stakeholder Forum concluded that it is thus a high priority issue and needs to be given correspondingly high levels of representation in the final Rio+20 outcome document.

Beyond June 2012: Rio+20’s long-term perspective

Sha Zukang, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said at the UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP10) in October 2011 that “whatever the final decision at Rio, we are confident it will help combat drought and desertification.”

The host country Brazil expects 50,000 visitors to participate in Rio+20, including diplomats, journalists, business representatives, politicians and environmental activists. They will all pursue their own goals during the Summit, but it will still be a great opportunity to convince the opinion leaders gathering in Rio de Janeiro to back the cause of making sustainable land use in agriculture, food security and forestry a cornerstone of the green economy for poverty eradication and sustainable development.

Desertification is a high priority issue for Rio+20.

Despite the many difficult tasks ahead, Luc Gnacadja is clear-sighted about the main objective: “The future we want is a land-degradation-neutral world.”


Water, energy and food security: from silo thinking to systemic approaches

Every single global environmental challenge encompasses a high level of complexity. Land degradation and desertification are no exception. Their solution must be sought in a range of disciplines: geology, microbiology, agriculture and many others. This is a massive task in itself, but the need for an additional joined-up approach across thematic borders is becoming more and more apparent, because so many issues are interrelated. Silo thinking will not lead to any overarching progress in the long term.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in June 2012 will address these interdependencies, which are particularly relevant to a green economy. In the run-up to UNCSD, the nexus between water, energy and food security is in the spotlight as a model for providing solutions for the green economy. The Bonn2011 Conference: The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus – Solutions for a Green Economy, for example, conveyed the message that a nexus approach can help to sustain ecosystems and biodiversity. According to the Messages from the Conference: “It opens the eyes for mutually beneficial responses and the potential of cooperation. We need to think and act interlinked to realise direct and indirect synergy potentials.”

“We need to think and act interlinked to realise direct and indirect synergy potentials.”
(Messages from the Nexus Conference)

Water, energy and food security

With the world population steadily growing, global demand for water, energy and food is on the rise. The world’s seven billion people need adequate food to survive and live a healthy life, as well as water, not only for drinking and hygiene but also to produce food and generate energy. In parallel, energy consumption is increasing, not least due to rising living standards in emerging countries such as China, India and Brazil. Dietary patterns are also changing. There is a growing hunger for meat, combined with a greater reliance on industrialised food production, driving up energy demand.

However, water, food and energy are limited resources. Experts estimate that in 2030, there will be a 40 per cent shortfall in the amount of freshwater needed to meet demand. Agricultural production will have to double, at the very least, by 2050 in order to feed the world. A clean and reliable energy supply must also be provided: fossil fuels are finite and harmful for the environment.

The nexus: an intricate web of interactions

The international community must therefore develop strategies for the sustainable management and use of these natural resources – and only a nexus perspective can provide sound solutions.

“Actions in one sector have the potential to either help or harm the other two. For example, the way water is sourced, treated, priced, and distributed can reduce or increase energy requirements ... and decisions taken on which way to generate energy can significantly influence water demand or, in the case of biofuels, displace food production,” explain the Co-Chairs of the Bonn2011 Nexus Conference, Dr Uschi Eid, Vice-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), and Albert Butare, former Minister of Energy and Water in the Republic of Rwanda.

Today, trade-offs between different development goals still dominate international debates, but nexus thinking is gaining ground, especially with a focus on a green economy. Joppe Cramwinckel, Director of the Water Programme at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and a Bonn2011 Outcome Ambassador, offers an example: “I believe water is the lifeblood of a green economy. In a green economy, natural capital is valued as a critical economic asset and also as a source of benefits for the poor.”

Trade-offs between different development goals dominate international debates.

Fertile soils in the nexus

In a nexus approach, healthy soils are a key asset for water and food security: “Soil resources determine the water retention capacity, thereby influencing the storage of ’green‘ water and replenishment of groundwater,” according to the Conference input on the sustainable governance of soil. In addition, soils provide food, water and bioenergy and contribute to nutrient cycling and primary production. They are also essential for the water and carbon cycle.

Tangible solutions within reach

Overall, there seem to be good prospects of applying a nexus approach in the future, mainly because the lack of resources is not seen as predestined but as a consequence of poor governance and management, leading to inequalities in distribution. This insight gives cause for hope, because governance and management structures can be changed. Now, the challenge is to identify mutually beneficial responses and develop an informed and transparent framework for determining and resolving trade-offs. The aim is to meet increasing demand without compromising sustainability.

In her concluding remarks at the Bonn2011 Conference, Gudrun Kopp, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), therefore mapped out the next steps to be taken: “A new perspective in our economic and political plans and activities is needed here. And this demands better knowledge and information on the interactions that occur at the interfaces between the sectors of water, energy and food security. We also need cross-sectoral exchange of experience and expertise along with more interdisciplinary research.” She stressed that innovations and more efficient forms of production would be necessary to bring down current levels of resource consumption and thus secure the long-term prospects for economic gain and growth.

“A new perspective in our economic and political plans and activities is needed.” Gudrun Kopp, Germany.

Nexus opportunities

Applying a nexus approach is an urgent must to identify the policy levers to implement a common future agenda and to create new opportunities for achieving water, energy and food security while reducing tensions between sectoral objectives. Realising these opportunities requires action for change in key fields:

  • - Increase policy coherence by ensuring that synergies and trade-offs are identified and by incentivising cooperation and coordination.
  • - Accelerate access to water, sanitation, energy and food as a human rights obligation by prioritising access for the poor and the marginalised.
  • - Create more with less by increasing resource productivity, optimal allocation of scarce resources for productive purposes, and sustainably and equitably intensifying the use of land and water.
  • - End waste and minimise losses by reducing waste and losses along supply chains and reducing demands on water, land and energy, and by changing mindsets and incentivising technological development to turn waste into a resource and manage it for multiple uses.
  • - Value natural infrastructure by investing to secure, improve and restore the value of biodiversity and ecosystems to provide food and energy, conserve water, sustain livelihoods while strengthening the basic role that nature plays in supporting life, well-being and cultures.
  • - Mobilise consumer influence by actively utilising the catalysing role that individuals have in choosing consumption patterns and improving efficiency of resource use both through their direct actions and in influencing the way business is done.

  • (adapted from: Messages from the Bonn2011 Conference)


Limited land, rising demand: Ways out of the dead end 

Jeremy Oppenheim leads the Sustainability and Resource Productivity Practice at McKinsey & Company. He advises private, public, and social sector clients globally on low carbon and green strategies. His clients include some of the world’s largest oil companies, engineering groups, mining companies, and banks. In the public sector, he has advised both developed and developing countries on ways to combine robust economic growth with the protection of irreplaceable environmental assets.

Prior to joining McKinsey, Jeremy was a senior economist at the World Bank, where he specialised in industrial restructuring and technology development. Currently, he is also an expert advisor to the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability. UNCCD News editor Susanne Reiff spoke to Jeremy Oppenheim at the Bonn2011 Conference: The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus – Solutions for the Green Economy.

Trouble ahead: Productivity improvements will fail to keep up with demand increases

At present, around 1.5 billion hectares of the world’s land area are used for the production of agricultural crops: food, animal feed, and various fibres such as cotton. There are also four billion hectares of forest and a couple of million hectares of degraded land. I say this to put things into perspective.

Increasing demand for farm products creates an incentive to expand into new land.

With the demand for agricultural products increasing year on year, there are major challenges ahead. The present rate of agricultural productivity growth is failing to keep up with the increasing demand for farm products. This creates a very strong incentive to expand into new land, especially at present, when food prices are high.

Our projections for the next 20 or so years show that even assuming that yields will increase by 1 per cent a year on the land currently under cultivation, rising demand means that we will need another 170-220 million hectares to meet our overall agricultural requirements. This is a massive figure: to meet it, we would have to increase our total stock of farm land by around 15 per cent.

Key approaches to sustainable land use

But let’s start by thinking about one fundamental question: what do we mean by sustainable land use? There are two different interpretations and it is worth looking at them separately.

One option is to improve inputs and farming techniques on existing land. This is extremely important. Here, we have tremendous scope to improve our performance, from both an economic and an environmental perspective.

The second option involves preventing a substantial expansion of the land area under cultivation – and we need to find effective ways of achieving this. Expansion almost certainly involves cutting down forests: 80 per cent of the expansion process may play out through deforestation, simply because it is easier to deforest than to regenerate degraded land.

At McKinsey, we believe that the most critical task is to figure out what can be done to achieve more sustainable and higher productivity on the land already under cultivation.

Ideally, this approach should be combined with conservation policies which prioritise forest protection as well as other areas of biodiversity significance.

Targeting both commercial farms and smallholders

Firstly, we can continue to improve the performance of commercial farms. There is still significant variation in their productivity. Access to capital and technological skills have a key role to play here. Commercial agriculture is not a “sexy” issue, unlike smallholder farming, but it is a more effective lever than driving smallholder yield enhancement, even though larger farms cover a smaller share of the world’s cultivated land.

Commercial agriculture is a more effective lever than driving smallholder yield enhancement.

Secondly, driving and improving smallholder performance is extremely important, both from a yield and equity/justice point of view. This is a very complex issue which involves providing access to markets and improving access to inputs, including credit inputs. But it is also about diffusion of better farming practices and techniques.

Over the past 20 to 25 years, we have run down and degraded our agricultural extension systems quite dramatically and a massive amount of remedial work needs to be done here. So there are two major levers on the supply side: improving the sustainable use of land by enhancing yields, and therefore effectively reducing the demand for expansion into other land.

Reducing land requirements by reducing waste

We waste a tremendous amount of food in the entire system. At the end of the day, if we are serious about reducing the pressure on land, we will have to recognise that the best and the cheapest approach is to stop wasting as much food as we do today. If we pursue this approach with a modicum of discipline and commitment, we could reduce our land requirement by 5 to 10 per cent. We would also be looking at a much lower increase in the demand for farm products over the next 20 years or so.

Valuing water

So we clearly need to be thinking about sustainable land use in much broader terms. It is not just about the traditional economics of inputs and outputs, which ignores ecosystem services. In my view, the toughest battles ahead – at the local and the global level – will be about preserving water resources. The first step is the willingness to pay a price for water, which means putting in place mechanisms that allow some kind of water pricing. These can be cost-recovery mechanisms, or they can be mechanisms to recycle the revenues back into the local water system. Models can vary: there are many options available.

People have to be willing to pay a price for water.

If we fail to put in place these mechanisms, we will find ourselves aggravating the problem of water scarcity, particularly in countries which are already water-stressed.

Maintaining the status quo is not a viable option. It is an environmentally disastrous and deeply unfair approach, because it will be the wealthier farmers who will have access to scarce and dwindling water supplies. Figuring out how to value water and establish pricing mechanisms is not discriminating against the poor. On the contrary, it will ultimately serve their interests better. Water pricing has to be fair, and it has to be driven locally, by local communities and local politicians. This is not a matter for UNEP or the World Bank or any other global player: it needs local commitment and local action. It is about the local conservation agenda, which is probably the most important. That is the level that counts most.

Consumer power

If we are serious about making global agriculture sustainable, we need to look at how consumers behave. In my view, the initiatives taken by the private sector and civil society to convene round-tables on sustainable agricultural products (soy, beef etc.), gathering the whole value chain, are extremely important. Eventually, though, we need to move beyond a voluntary approach, although it’s impossible to say when that is likely to happen. So for now, we need to build on the existing momentum and capitalise in a very positive way on the fact that this is a market-driven rather than a government-driven phenomenon. The more this is driven by individual consumers choosing to use their money to promote an environmental agenda, the better it will be for everyone. Let’s see how far we can progress with this voluntary model before considering a regulatory approach. Let’s not rush into that.

We need to capitalise on this market-driven phenomenon.

The strongest incentive: Liberalising agricultural markets for countries that take forest conservation seriously

The most effective policy lever – and the one that fewer people talk about – is incredibly simple. Those countries which have genuinely stopped or considerably reduced the rate of deforestation, and which have a proven track record based on proper monitoring, have set a benchmark and a boundary for land use, which is truly profound. We should be willing to provide free access to our agricultural markets for those countries that have demonstrated that they have adopted REDD-compatible policies. By doing so, we will create a massive market-driven incentive to support REDD+ and the conservation of our forests.

This would leverage 10 or even 50 times more than the 10 billion US dollars a year that will otherwise ultimately trickle into the REDD+ space.

But there is one final important point that I want to emphasise. As consumers in developed countries, we are side-stepping our real responsibilities. We want to have cheap food, but we also want to have intact forests. But we can’t have it both ways. Our current approach is, in essence, a combination of agricultural protectionism and side-payments for REDD, which will be very hard to manage, monitor and govern.

Our current approach is a combination of agricultural protectionism and side-payments for REDD.

A more powerful approach – instead of providing REDD+ payments and pursuing a form of agricultural protectionism – would be to liberalise our agricultural markets for those countries which have taken serious steps to protect their forests.

That would change the way the world delivers on sustainable agriculture, and it would transform the incentives to invest in farming and boost agricultural productivity. It would also put money in the pockets of smallholders, whom we all care about.


Grassroots green economy: Sustainable cookstoves for Burkina Faso

As the concept of a green economy is currently fuelling academic and political debates and is discussed in countless reports and initiatives, practical green economic solutions are continuously developing at the local level. A solar bread oven, for example, recently received the 2011 SEED Award for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development. The oven was developed by a local entrepreneur from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and is a small-scale, but yet significant hands-on contribution to the country’s sustainable development. Distributed to local women’s cooperatives via a franchising network, it will provide an alternative to using wood fires for cooking – a dramatic improvement not only for rural people’s health, but also for women’s empowerment and the country’s efforts to reduce deforestation and build a green economy.

Burkina Faso: Reducing deforestation and building a green economy.

Burkina Faso is severely impacted by desertification, resulting from overgrazing, soil degradation and deforestation. Using wood for energy consumption makes things even worse. What’s more, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 16,000 deaths in Burkina Faso every year are caused by indoor air pollution from open fires used for cooking and heating. Collecting firewood – a tradition dating back thousands of years – results in high economic and environmental costs today. It is mainly the poor who depend on wood as their main energy source for meeting their livelihood needs, and they cannot afford to worry about the ecological consequences – namely land degradation and deforestation. In addition, the time women and girls spend walking long distances to collect firewood is lost for other economic activities.

William Ilboudo is General Manager of ISOMET Burkina Faso, a company which pioneers domestic energy solutions. In his view, “the photovoltaic idea uses complicated technology and materials that must be imported. However, the solar heaters produce a valuable market that keeps money in Burkina’s economy and helps in the fight against poverty.”

That’s why ISOMET took the initiative and developed the award-winning hybrid (solar/gas) high-capacity oven. It is suitable to cook or bake all kinds of foods, such as bread, biscuit, baked pork or the mutton barbecues which are very popular in West Africa. It can also be used for food processing operations such as roasting (shea nuts, peanuts, cashews, etc.), so it has great potential for small businesses.

Ilboudo explains that the technology behind the principle of his company’s the oven is as simple as it is captivating: Designed in ISOMET’s workshops, it is heated by a 16m² solar dish which concentrates sunlight into a focal point located in the oven. The temperatures developed at this stage oscillate between 500° and 1100° C. The heat is then passed through a heat exchanger and blown into the baking chamber, which operates at 250° C. If there is insufficient solar radiation, a second heat exchanger comes into operation, fired by a gas burner. The oven is designed for use in Burkina Faso but also in all countries with abundant sunshine. It can be installed in rural and urban areas, wherever enough space is available for the solar dish. This “green tech” solution reduces greenhouse gas emissions by replacing wood with renewable energy and cutting fossil fuel consumption.

The only downside is cost: small businesses would have to invest around 6,500 euros in purchasing the solar oven, including the solar dish, compared to 200 euros for a charcoal oven. This high price could be a major obstacle to large-scale diffusion of the oven, although the investment will pay off in the long run. The solar technology saves between 30 and 40 kg of wood per hour – the amount of fuel a charcoal oven would require to bake around a hundred 200 g loaves of bread.

William Ilboudo is not the first to search for alternatives to firewood-based cooking. Many global and national initiatives have been created to promote clean cookstoves. In 2011, the Government of Burkina Faso, for instance, joined the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a United Nations Foundation-led public-private partnership to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. The Alliance’s goal is that 100 million homes adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020.

100 million homes to adopt clean and efficient stoves

The great potential of ISOMET’s solar bread oven has now been recognised by the international community. Together with 34 other innovative start-up ventures, mainly from Africa, it has received an award from the SEED Initiative, a global partnership for action on sustainable development and the green economy, founded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. SEED supports innovative small-scale and locally driven entrepreneurships around the globe which integrate social and environmental benefits into their business model. UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner congratulated the winners: They “illuminate a business model that cannot only be successful but have outcomes that meet the environmental and social imperatives of communities and countries across the globe.”



UNEP Year Book 2012, Chapter 2: The benefits of soil carbon
Chapter 2 of the report focuses on the carbon in soils that provides multiple benefits, especially in enhancing food production and regulating our climate.
Download Year Book 2012 in PDF


World Bank: Apps for climate competition
The World Bank has launched the innovation contest Apps For Climate which will be running through March 16 2012. This competition challenges participants to develop software applications related to climate change. The applications should serve to raise awareness, measure progress, or to help in some other way to address the development challenges of climate change. Submissions may be any kind of software application, be it for the web, a personal computer, a mobile handheld device, console, SMS, or any software platform broadly available to the public.
Download document in PDF

Rio+20: Pictures of the world
At Rio+20, world leaders will have the opportunity to create a new paradigm of sustainable lifestyles. The Rio+20 website presents pictures of the world that show what a sustainable lifestyle means to people all over the world. Join and upload your pictures that represent a sustainable lifestyle!At Rio+20, world leaders will have the opportunity to create a new paradigm of sustainable lifestyles.
Watch the images and upload your own image

Farming First: Video on the story about agriculture and the green economy

Farming First is a coalition of multi-stakeholder organisations to articulate, endorse and promote practical, actionable programmes and activities to further sustainable agricultural development worldwide. The video shows that agriculture plays a vital role in a green economy.
Watch the video here: www.farmingfirst.org or on YouTube.


About the UNCCD

Developed as a result of the Rio Summit, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is a unique instrument that has brought attention to the land degradation affecting some of the most vulnerable people and ecosystems in the world. The UNCCD has 194 Parties (193 countries plus the European Union) and is one of the three so-called “Rio Conventions”, along with the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The UNCCD is increasingly recognised as an instrument that can make an important contribution to the achievement of sustainable development and poverty reduction.

For more information: Awareness Raising, Communication and Education Unit, UNCCD
Tel (switchboard): + 49 228 815 2800   Fax: + 49 228 815 2898   secretariat@unccd.int

Contact UNCCD News at newsbox@unccd.int


UNCCD News is published by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Editor: Susanne Reiff, to the point communication (Email)
Design: Rebus, Paris (Email)
Copyright ©2011 UNCCD (Email)

Photo credits: Contents: UN Photo/Evan Schneider; Eyewave/Dreamstime.com; Samrat35/Dreamstime.com; Hope Hempstone/Courtesy of Photoshare; Message: UN Photo/Evan Schneider; Policy: Adam Barclay/Courtesy of Photoshare; UNCCD; Germain Passamang Tabati/Courtesy of Photoshare; Jeremy Richards/Dreamstime.com; Bill Horn/Courtesy of Photoshare; Special Report: Anil Gulati/Courtesy of Photoshare; Lee Snider/Dreamstime.com; Kornelia Danetzki/ Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ); Ben Barber/Courtesy of Photoshare; Prem Vijay Patil/Courtesy of Photoshare; Interview: McKinsey&Company; Hope Hempstone/Courtesy of Photoshare; Jessie Kalsmith/Courtesy of Photoshare; Onepony/Dreamstime.com; Aaneela/Dreamstime.com; Tonnywu76/Dreamstime.com; DLR; Practice: 3x ISOMET Burkina Faso; Browsing: Nico Smit/Dreamstime.com.