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


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In this issue


Special Feature





From the Executive Secretary
“Although we may not be able to stop droughts from happening, we have the knowledge and the experience to put in place measures that will prevent a repeat of their crises.” More…

Publications, websites etc. More…

Drought: a creeping natural hazard
Droughts affect more people than any other type of natural disaster. Therefore, a paradigm shift away from vulnerability and towards resilience is essential. More…

Drought policy: from crisis management to risk management
The UN High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy and other recent initiatives promote the establishment of national drought policies with a long-term risk management approach. More…

Michel Jarraud: “I would like to see more drought-resilient societies”
The Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud, calls for pro-active drought management policies. More…

Readers’ survey
The editorial board of UNCCD News kindly asks you to answer six short questions about UNCCD News. More…


Don't let our future dry up

The drought in the Horn of Africa in 2011 is still fresh in our minds. More than 13 million people, mostly women and children, were affected. Lives and livelihoods were devastated. Estimates suggest that more than 50,000 people died, more than half of them children under five, and the crisis continues. In recent decades, droughts have escalated, causing widespread socio-economic impacts affecting millions of people across the world.

But it is not only developing countries that are severely affected by drought. Last year, the United States experienced a severe drought which is still ongoing. Its dramatic effect on global food prices showed very clearly that vulnerability to drought is a commonly shared challenge in our globalised world. Climate experts predict that in future, droughts will become even more intense, frequent and widespread.

So how do we react to these human, social and economic disasters? The current response to drought is too little, too late and is also reactive rather than pro-active. Our post-impact approaches not only push up the socio-economic costs of droughts, but also increase the vulnerability and reduce the resilience of affected communities and ecosystems to future droughts.

“The current response to drought is too little and too late.”

Building resilience to drought is not only a mitigation measure, but a smart investment with guaranteed high returns. Post-disaster relief is far more costly than drought preparedness and risk management. In my view, this inappropriate collective response to drought represents a systemic failure on the part of national governments and the international community. In the Horn of Africa, for example, there were indications that a crisis was coming from as early as August 2010. But we did not react as we should have.


This can’t go on any longer. The UNCCD secretariat, together with the World Meteorological Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other interested partners, has endeavoured to build a broad coalition to promote the establishment of national drought policies, which are an important step to increase resilience and reduce vulnerability to droughts. The result was the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy that took place in Geneva from 11-15 March. The road ahead is clear: Governments and all other stakeholders have to move from crisis management to preparedness and risk management and tackle the root causes of vulnerability.

This meeting was a great success in various ways. Its Final Declaration will serve as a guideline to establish more effective responses to droughts. Major stakeholders, including the UNCCD secretariat, have committed to take appropriate follow-up actions. We will, for example, undertake capacity building initiatives to empower nations and communities that are most vulnerable to droughts. During the conference, we launched our global awareness-raising and action campaign as part of our activities for the UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification and leading up to the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on 17 June. By then, we want every stakeholder and every community in the world to say “never again” to a post-impact-alone response to drought-related disasters.

“We will undertake capacity building initiatives to empower nations and communities.”

In this issue of UNCCD News, we highlight some of the meeting’s major outcomes and offer insights into useful science-based actions that can successfully address drought. You will see that although we cannot stop droughts from happening, we, the actors from the international community, do have the knowledge and the experience to put in place measures that will help to prevent the associated crises. What we need now is to complete the shift to this new paradigm, away from reaction and towards risk management and resilience building. Together, we won’t let our future dry up.

Luc Gnacadja
Executive Secretary


Drought: a creeping natural hazard

When discussing drought policy and the need to move from crisis management to risk management, a clear understanding of droughts, their impacts and ways to improve resilience is indispensible. This special feature provides the facts to show why it is time to act now.

Droughts are the world’s costliest natural disaster. They affect more people than any other type of natural disaster, cost billions of dollars annually and cause long-term socio-economic impacts. Since 1900, more than 11 million people have died as a result of droughts and a further 2 billion people have been affected. There is clear evidence that the situation is steadily worsening, with drought frequency increasing all over the world, partly as a result of desertification, land degradation and climate change.

More than a mere lack of rain

When we talk about drought, what exactly do we mean? Meteorologists define drought as a deficiency of precipitation from expected or “normal” that extends over a season or longer period of time. But there’s more to it than that. The definition by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) refers to hydrological drought “when deficiencies occur in surface and subsurface water supplies”, and agricultural drought “when there is insufficient soil moisture to meet the needs of a particular crop at a particular time”. As soon as people’s activities are affected, we speak of socio-economic drought.

Unlike other natural hazards, droughts occur gradually, making it hard to determine exactly when they begin, and often impossible to say whether or not they have ended. Sometimes, a shower of rain seems to spell the end of the drought, bringing much-needed relief to people, crops and soils, but this may be only temporary – a brief intermezzo in a continuing drought.

Inevitably, the impacts on the poorest communities are particularly severe, especially those dependent on subsistence agriculture. The effects of drought can last a long time after the rains return, with food remaining scarce and expensive and depleted water resources, eroded soils and weakened livestock causing problems for years. But the true social, economic and environmental costs of drought – both short- and long-term – are almost impossible to quantify due to a lack of reliable data.

Agriculture and food security are the sectors most stressed by drought, but energy and industry, the environment, including wildlife and natural ecosystems, infrastructure, transport and tourism are having to cope with drought conditions more and more often.

Drought vulnerability increases

Drought conditions 2010

Drought conditions 2030

Drought can affect any country, rich or poor – Australia, for example, has suffered multi-year droughts over the past decade. The effects on national economies can be devastating: between 1997 and 2007, Ethiopia lost more than 1 billion US dollars annually to drought – almost wiping out the international aid it received for poverty reduction and emergency relief over the same period. Yunnan in China has suffered years of drought, affecting more than 6.3 million people. Other regional drought hotspots are the Horn of Africa, where drought has exacted a dreadful human cost, and Russia, which suffered a devastating drought in 2010.

Although drought is primarily a local, national or regional problem, its impacts are felt worldwide, which is why it has become an issue of global concern. The most striking evidence of this wide-ranging dimension of drought is the dramatic rise in food prices since 2008, mainly triggered by serious drought conditions in Australia and the United States.

There is growing concern that climate change is causing an increase in droughts. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has observed that we are experiencing hotter weather and longer-lasting heat waves, increasing the frequency and severity of droughts. It seems inevitable that as droughts worsen, their human and economic costs will spiral as well, especially in vulnerable communities.

Turning vulnerability into resilience

But what makes a community vulnerable? As UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja explains, there are various determining factors and drivers. They include poverty and dependence on rain-fed agriculture, especially in developing countries with a high level of small-scale and subsistence farming; desertification and environmental degradation; a weak institutional framework and governance; political instability, social and civil conflicts; and climate and societal change. Studies from all regions confirm that drought risk is closely connected to poverty, especially in rural regions. All over the world – from Latin America to India and South Africa – poor rural households whose livelihoods depend on rain-fed subsistence agriculture are highly vulnerable to drought and least able to absorb and mitigate its impacts. Rural poverty is thus both a cause and a consequence of drought risk.

While we cannot prevent a drought from occurring, we have many opportunities to mitigate its impacts.

So with drought being a growing problem for the world community, and especially the poor, how should we respond? What action do we need to take? Indeed, can action possibly be effective? After all, drought is a natural phenomenon that can hardly be eliminated, and its severity, duration, frequency and spatial extent are beyond our control.

But while we cannot prevent a drought from occurring, we have many opportunities to mitigate its impacts. What vulnerable communities need are successful strategies that put people and their ability to cope with drought centre stage and turn vulnerability into resilience. FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva explains: “We must build resilient, ‘drought-resistant’ communities. This means not simply reacting after the rains fail, but investing over the long term, so that when drought does hit, people and food systems can weather the blow.” Preparedness, not a post-impact response, is the key. Donald A. Wilhite from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, keynote speaker at the recent High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy, has drawn up a concise to-do list for making communities less vulnerable. He emphasises the need to focus on awareness-raising, monitoring and early warning, combined with risk assessments, forward planning and national drought policies based on the principles of risk reduction.

Resilience means action, not reaction. An effective strategy against drought relies on the availability of timely and reliable information as a basis for effective decision-making. It requires policies and institutional arrangements that encourage assessment, communication, and application of the information. Appropriate risk management tools must also be available to decision-makers as a basis for effective and consistent action. A post-impact-alone response is not enough.

With the prospect of more frequent and severe droughts, with even more devastating impacts, a paradigm shift away from vulnerability and towards resilience is essential. To initiate change, decision-makers and communities need to realise that more resilience is not a vague prospect for the distant future but is already within reach. Indeed, it is easy to implement in many cases, with better early warning systems and preparedness measures, for example. The UNCCD is determined to close the gap between current practice and the disaster risk reduction potential, which can save thousands of lives and better protect the livelihoods of millions of people affected by drought. Many UN organisations and national governments have already joined the UNCCD in this endeavour, and there are encouraging signs that many others are willing to do the same.

More resilience is not a vague prospect for the distant future but is already within reach.



Drought policy: from crisis management to risk management

Droughts have always been a key concern for the UNCCD; indeed, they were a major driver of the adoption of the UNCCD. The severe drought in the Sahel in the 1970s and 1980s led to global efforts to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought, culminating in the signing of the UNCCD. Today, droughts are once again a key focus of the UNCCD’s attention.

The growing intensity, frequency and duration of droughts worldwide worry many UNCCD stakeholders. Together with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UNCCD therefore organised a High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy in Geneva, Switzerland, from 11 to 15 March 2013, to remind stakeholders that they urgently need to take action.

Improving policies is long overdue

Most countries’ approach to dealing with drought is very uneven. Do they put people and their ability to cope with drought centre stage? The answer is yes, in some cases, but most governments still think reactively, focusing on crisis management instead of risk management. They start taking action when the drought is already happening, adopting a fire-fighting response to emergency aid delivery. At this stage, it is too late to draft and implement preparedness plans. It is too late to make communities more resilient.

Most governments still think reactively, focusing on crisis management instead of risk management.

Why is there such reluctance to shift towards preparedness, risk management and early response? As UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja explains, there is widespread ignorance of the real socio-economic cost of inaction, compared with the costs of preparedness and risk management. “There is also a strong fear of acting on early warning because this means acting on uncertainties – with financial resources and reputations potentially at stake,” he says.

The High-level Meeting: a promising start

“We cannot continue like this,” said Michel Jarraud, WMO Secretary-General, summing up the joint viewpoint of WMO, UNCCD and FAO which was the starting point for the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy. With this meeting, the three organisations wanted to provide stakeholders, especially governments, with practical insights into useful, science-based actions to address the key drought issues. After the scientific segment dedicated to this purpose, 40 ministers met for the high-level segment and committed to move towards science-based drought disaster risk reduction by signing a final declaration, which was received favourably. Brigi Rafini, Prime Minister of Niger, expects the declaration to usher in a new era of solidarity. For Gnacadja, it is “good and resilient seed sown in a good ground”.

High-level Meeting Final Declaration

The consensus declaration stresses the need for national drought management policies. It encouraged governments to:

  • - develop pro-active drought impact mitigation, preventive and
    planning measures, risk management, fostering of science, appropriate
    technology and innovation, public outreach and resource management
    as key elements of effective national drought policy,
  • - promote greater collaboration to enhance the quality of local/national/
    regional/global observation networks and delivery systems,
  • - improve public awareness of drought risk and preparedness for drought,
  • - consider, where possible within the legal framework of each country,
    economic instruments, and financial strategies, including risk reduction,
    risk sharing and risk transfer tools in drought management plans,
  • - establish emergency relief plans based on sound management of
    natural resources and self-help at appropriate governance levels,
  • - link drought management plans to local/national development policies.

Drought policies: the basis for change

National drought policies seem to be the natural way forward, because policies at the country level regulate most issues of national relevance. But so far, only one country in the world has adopted a national drought policy – and it does not contain any groundbreaking new approaches, but merely adapts those already successfully adopted for other hazards such as tropical cyclones and floods.

The High-level Meeting clearly identified what national drought policies have to accomplish. They should contain, as their key elements, effective monitoring and early warning systems to deliver timely information to decision-makers, effective impact assessment procedures, pro-active risk management measures, preparedness plans aimed at increasing coping capacity, and effective emergency response programmes directed at reducing the impacts of drought.

It is vital that the communities concerned can prepare for periods of drought. Enhanced national, regional and global observation networks and information delivery systems are therefore needed to improve public understanding of, and preparedness for, drought.

Farmers, whose yields could be diminished or destroyed by a severe drought, and others potentially affected by drought should have the opportunity to benefit from comprehensive governmental and private insurance schemes and funding for drought preparedness plans.

The participants at the High-level Meeting also stressed that even though the focus should be on preparedness and resilience, a safety net of emergency relief based on sound stewardship of natural resources and self-help at diverse governance levels is indispensible.

Implementation makes the difference

However, drafting and adopting a national drought policy is only part of the story. The rest is down to implementation – and this is often far more difficult. But usually, a risk management approach starts to acquire firmer foundations once the communities affected by drought see for themselves how simple measures can reduce the impacts of drought. Mahmoud Solh, Director General of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), highlighted some of these techniques and technologies during the High-level Meeting. For instance, mixed cropping, watershed management plans and zero tillage techniques increase the soil’s ability to retain water. Drought-resistant ruminants, seasonal climate prediction and a community approach to managing common water and rangeland resources can also contribute.

Drafting and adopting a national drought policy is only part of the story.


New initiatives

For the UNCCD and its partners, it is clear that hosting a High-level Meeting is not enough to sustainably promote national drought policies. They have therefore launched several new initiatives:

Although they tackle drought from different angles, all these initiatives serve the same overarching purpose – to promote preparedness and resilience. The next drought is already approaching. Perhaps those in charge of drought management in the communities, in local administrations or in national politics will then realise that it is in their power to reduce vulnerability. They simply have to shift from crisis management to risk management. The knowledge and the methods are available: they are just waiting to be implemented.

  Capacity Building Project on Drought Preparedness (UNCCD, WMO and FAO in cooperation with UNW-DPC) Global Campaign on Drought Preparedness and Risk Management (UNCCD, WMO)
Aim The project aims to support the development of national drought management policies (NDMPs). The campaign will raise awareness among stakeholders and communities on actions they can take to increase resilience and avoid drought-related disasters.
Approach It should enable national institutions and ministries to assess their current national disaster and drought management systems and focus on strategies and tools to develop risk-based national drought policies. It calls on stakeholders to organise events and activities that introduce the concept of a land-degradation neutral world. They should use this opportunity to promote actions at the local and national level to reduce the impacts of drought and promote implementation of the outcomes of the High-level Meeting.
Key principle Drought management must shift from a reactive, post-hazard response to a pro-active, risk-based approach. Pro-active mitigation and planning measures, preparedness and risk management, public outreach and resource mobilisation
Outcome Four regional capacity development workshops will be held in drought-prone regions. They will present NDMPs as coping strategies for drought management. In 2014, an international wrap-up workshop will summarise the outcomes of the initiative. On 17 June 2013, World Day to Combat Desertification will be celebrated as the culmination of the campaign.
Comment Project Director Reza Ardakanian: “The timing of the project launch is particularly appropriate as the UN General Assembly has declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation. The International Decade for Action “Water for Life” (2005 - 2015) also promotes action on drought.” Luc Gnacadja: “By 17 June, we want every stakeholder and community in the world say ‘never again’ to drought disasters. We want every individual and every private company with the power to act, to join in building a drought-resilient society.”


Michel Jarraud: “I would like to see more drought-resilient societies”

Michel Jarraud has been the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization since 2004. In 2012, he also assumed the Chair of UN-Water, the inter-agency mechanism that coordinates and strengthens the work of United Nations organisations and programmes on all issues relating to freshwater. Before joining the WMO Secretariat in 1995, Mr Jarraud, who is a scientist and a meteorologist, held various positions with the internationally renowned European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). Mr Jarraud started his career with the French National Meteorological Service, Météo-France.

Policies for other natural phenomena, such as tropical cyclones, tsunamis, etc., have already moved from crisis management to risk management. Why are drought strategies falling behind?

Drought is a slow, creeping natural hazard – not sudden and dramatic like tropical cyclones, earthquakes or floods, which capture television headlines and seize the attention of policy-makers and the public. It occurs as a consequence of climatic variability and is being exacerbated by climate change. It is an insidious, long-term and complex phenomenon. Therefore, droughts rarely inspire governments to act pro-actively, although they cause more deaths and displace or affect more people than any other kind of natural disaster.

The economic, social and environmental impacts of droughts have increased significantly worldwide, but responses to droughts in most parts of the world are generally reactive in terms of crisis management, and they are often untimely and poorly coordinated. Too often, countries get trapped in the same loop: a drought develops, people become concerned, they suffer, the rains resume, memories fade. No concerted efforts have yet been made to initiate a dialogue on the formulation and adoption of national drought policies. This is why WMO, UNCCD and FAO joined together to organise the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy to help governments become more pro-active.

“No concerted efforts have yet been made to initiate a dialogue on the formulation and adoption of national drought policies.”

The to-do list for reducing vulnerability to drought is long. Where do you see the most urgent need to act?

First and foremost, we need to move from crisis management to disaster risk reduction. We need to create more drought-resilient societies that can withstand the impact of natural variations in our climate and of human-induced climate change. The complexity of the drought management challenge calls for a coordinated response at the national level as well as at the international level. A top priority is therefore to develop integrated, forward-looking policies to replace the current piecemeal and reactive approach. This entails more effective monitoring and early warning systems to deliver timely information to decision-makers at all levels, effective impact assessment procedures, pro-active risk management measures, preparedness plans aimed at increasing coping capacity, and effective emergency response programmes directed at reducing the impacts of drought.

Why are national drought policies so important?

The nature of drought and its effects on key sectors such as water, agriculture, energy and industrial production, health, transportation and tourism call for an integrated drought policy and for coordination among many different sectors. Only one country in the world currently has a national drought policy. This needs to change. The High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy was the first global dialogue on national drought policies, and it showed that we have the knowledge, we have the experience, and we have the determination to reduce the unacceptably high human and economic toll of drought. We are confident that the progress launched in the meeting will equip policy-makers and governments with the necessary basket of tools to help formulate national drought policies that are consistent with individual national development conditions and priorities. There won’t be a “one-size-fits-all” drought policy.

National drought management policy should emphasise the development and implementation of pre-impact government programmes and preparedness plans and policies that are directed towards drought risk reduction, rather than just drought relief. Pre-impact government measures could include comprehensive early warning systems, improved seasonal forecasts, the construction of reservoirs, insurance programmes, and so forth.

Preparedness plans and policies could include organisational frameworks and operational arrangements developed in advance of drought. The aim would be to improve coordination within and between levels of government and with stakeholders in the drought management community.

The UNCCD secretariat has partnered with WMO and FAO to promote the development of national drought policies. Where do you see the UNCCD’s strength here? What role will WMO take?

The intensification of droughts will lead to further land degradation, reductions in human well-being, and impacts on global and regional food security. The multi-sectoral nature of the challenge necessitates a multi-sectoral, multi-agency response. Drought is too serious and too complex for one country or one agency alone to tackle. The UNCCD has a unique mandate, as well as experience and expertise in land degradation and desertification. As we know, over 250 million people are directly affected by desertification. In addition, some one billion people in over 100 countries are at risk. These people include many of the world’s poorest, most marginalised, and politically weak citizens. Therefore, combating desertification is an urgent priority in global efforts to ensure food security and the livelihoods of millions of people who inhabit the drylands of the world. The UNCCD has a pivotal role to play in this.

The desired shift from drought crisis management to risk management requires improved drought monitoring and early warning systems. Through its network of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and regional and sub-regional centres, and in partnership with relevant United Nations organisations, WMO assists its members in developing long-term strategies for meteorological and hydrological activities that contribute to better drought monitoring to strengthen food security. Our Regional Climate Outlook Forums, established for many sub-regions of the world, develop consensus-based seasonal outlooks. These products are essential to the development of the regional agriculture and food security outlooks that are now regularly issued for regions such as the Horn of Africa. They assist countries to put in place early measures to pro-actively address potential famine crises.

“The shift from crisis to risk management requires improved drought monitoring and early warning systems.”


We must now ensure that timely and user-friendly climate services and drought early warning systems reach the decision-makers, land users, farmers and pastoralists. This is why WMO is spearheading the development of the Global Framework for Climate Services, an international partnership to improve and expand the provision of climate services, especially to the most vulnerable. The UNCCD will be a key partner in this endeavour.

What were the most important outcomes of the High-level Meeting?

The High-level Meeting was significant because for the first time, a top-level United Nations conference has laid the foundations for practical and pro-active national drought policies. The meeting issued a declaration encouraging governments to develop and implement national drought management policies consistent with their development objectives. Equally important, it also provided detailed scientific and policy guidance on how to achieve this

The Science Document “Best Practices on National Drought Management Policy” will be revised to reflect the fruitful and informative presentations and discussions during the conference. It contains a compendium of best practices:

  • - promoting standard approaches to vulnerability and impact assessment,
  • - implementing effective drought monitoring and early warning systems,
  • - enhancing preparedness and mitigation actions,
  • - implementing emergency response and recovery measures that reinforce national
    drought management policy goals, and
  • - understanding the cost of inaction.

The policy document, which will be updated, outlines the goals and essential elements of national drought management policies to reduce societal vulnerability to droughts.

What will be the next steps for WMO and its partners?

The UNCCD-WMO-FAO Partnership will continue the dialogue we started in Geneva. There is a new joint capacity building initiative to help national institutions to assess their current drought management systems and to develop national drought policies. The initiative will be complemented by the advocacy policy framework on drought to be considered at the upcoming session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD in September 2013.

The outcomes of the High-level Meeting and lessons learned about integrated drought management will be an important contribution to the rollout of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), which aims to improve climate information and services, especially for the most vulnerable, and give global access to improved services for four initial priority sectors – food security and agriculture, water, health and disaster risk reduction – by the end of 2017. Drought cannot be prevented, but the GFCS can help mitigate its effects and make society more resilient. The Intergovernmental Board on Climate Services will hold its first session in July 2013 and will be informed of the outcomes of the High-level Meeting.

What would you like to see achieved over the next five to 10 years?

We would like to see more drought-resilient societies, with pro-active drought management policies, contributing to a dramatic reduction in fatalities and economic damage caused by drought. The Ministerial Declaration of the High-level Meeting deliberately did not set target dates for the development and implementation of national drought policies because this depends on national conditions and will not happen overnight. But we have at least laid the foundations.

17 June 2013: World Day to Combat Desertification

Droughts come and often last for a long time, but at some point, the rains put an end to them, giving people, fauna and flora the chance to recover.

But what if the lack of water is a permanent condition? In many parts of the world, especially in the drylands, the demand for freshwater exceeds the available supplies. This water scarcity is a serious and often life-threatening problem for millions of people. Only 2.5 per cent of all the water on Earth is freshwater. Less than 1 per cent of this freshwater is usable for ecosystems and humans.

The risks from drought and water scarcity are growing around the world. This is why World Day to Combat Desertification 2013 is dedicated to droughts and water scarcity in the drylands and beyond. It aims to create awareness about their risks and calls attention to the importance of sustaining healthy soils as part of the post-Rio+20 agenda, as well as to the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

With the slogan “Don’t let our future dry up”, the UNCCD is encouraging everyone to take action to promote preparedness and resilience to water scarcity, desertification and drought.

Activities to mark World Day to Combat Desertification are planned around the world and listed on the UNCCD website. Everybody is invited to contribute and celebrate World Day in their community, school, ministry, research institution, NGO or international organisation. The UNCCD secretariat would love to hear about the activities you have planned as part of our shared endeavour to help prevent our future drying up.


What do YOU think?

It is almost four years, since UNCCD News was launched in summer 2009, a good time to ask you, the readers, for your feedback. Do you enjoy reading the stories? Do they inspire your daily work?

You, the readership of this online newsletter, are a group as diverse as the issues of desertification, land degradation and drought themselves and include international and national policy-makers, scientists and practitioners. Does UNCCD News reflect this diversity, also from a geographical perspective?

Please take a minute to answer six short questions to help ensure that UNCCD News meets our readers’ needs. Thank you for your input!

To the survey



International Year of Water Cooperation

Inclusive and participatory governance of water and cooperation between different user groups can help to overcome inequity in access to water, enhance water security and overcome water scarcity and thus contribute to poverty eradication and to improving living conditions and educational opportunities, especially for women and children. This is why the United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation.

To the website

Climate vulnerability monitor

An interactive online portal makes data available based on the Climate Vulnerability Monitor report, first released at the UN climate conference (COP 16) in Cancún, Mexico, in 2010, and updated in September 2012. Data are available for 34 indicators of the economic, human and ecological effects of climate change and the carbon economy, including desertification and drought.

To the website


Drought and Disaster: Building Resilience - People with Greener Land

The video “Drought and disaster: building resilience – people with greener land” shows that if people around the globe manage land in a sustainable way and share their experiences, resilience to climate change, drought and disaster can be built. National drought policies must promote sustainable land management to create greener land on our planet. The World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) presented this video at a side event of the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy in Geneva in March 2013.

Watch the video here


Water and soil conservation practices in the Sahel

This paper presents several approaches to and techniques of soil and water conservation (SWC) and soil protection and restoration (SPR). It examines their contribution to improving the resilience of the prevailing agro-sylvopastoral systems and to reducing the vulnerability of the rural population.

A special focus will be on water spreading weirs, a relatively new technology for the rehabilitation of degraded dryland valleys, which has been introduced in the Sahel by Swiss and German development cooperation. The paper provides policy and technical recommendations for scaling up the presented techniques as a contribution to sustainable land management and resilience.

Report as PDF

World Bank Report: Turn Down the Heat

This new report, a snapshot of the latest climate science prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Climate Analytics, says that the world is on a path to a 4 degree Celsius warmer world by the end of this century and current greenhouse gas emissions pledges will not reduce this by much. This will further increase the risk of drought and aridity.

Report as PDF


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 195 Parties (194 countries plus the European Union) and is one of the three “Rio Conventions”, along with the UN Framework Convention on 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: + 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).

Editing: to the point communication (Susanne Reiff, Hillary Crowe) (Email)
Design: Rebus, Paris (Email)
Copyright ©2013 UNCCD (Email)

Photos: Contents: WMO; UN Photo/John Isaac; 2x WMO, Message: WMO; International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center/flickr.com; Special Feature: UN Photo/John Isaac; UN Photo/Martine Perret; UN Photo/John Isaac; maps: DARA, Climate Vulnerability Monitor, 2nd edition; CraneStation/flickr.com; FAO/Thomas Hug; Policy: 2x WMO; CGIAR Climate/flickr.com; IITA Image Library/flickr.com; Interview: WMO; EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection; International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center/flickr.com; EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection; WMO; EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection; Browsing: Ecoview/fotolia.com