Displaying 1-17 of 17 key documents
Source: United Nations Environment Management Group | October 2011
This report outlines the first coherent strategy drawn up by the UN to address dryland management, taking into account environmental concerns and the well-being of dryland communities. It examines the relationship between drylands and climate change, food security and livelihoods, and highlights ways in which the UN is working to mainstream drylands into policymaking processes.
Climate change is already having an impact on crop yields and nutrition in areas that rely on rain-fed agriculture, according to the report, and these impacts will intensify by 2020 in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. The impacts of climate change may be most pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, suggesting that those already vulnerable will be affected the most.
A key message is that the international community has an opportunity to address the underlying causes of dryland degradation. The report concludes that global cooperation must be intensified if the ten-year strategic plan of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification — whose aim is to tackle desertification and degradation — and the Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved.
Source: International Food Policy Research Institution | May 2011
This paper looks at the global economic costs and benefits of mitigating desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) which are increasing in many parts of the world. The study was undertaken to prepare a framework for a global assessment and provide policymakers with evidence-based recommendations on how to deal with these environmental pressures.
It includes a literature review showing how global assessments of land degradation have advanced, particularly with the use of satellite imagery to assess vegetation land cover, and identifies underlying causes — including the institutions responsible for regulating drivers of land degradation.
The authors propose a total economic value approach, which takes into account the costs and benefits of ecosystem services — direct and indirect, in and outside the area assessed. They provide an assessment of existing knowledge and the costs of acting to mitigate DLDD, recommend a methodology for choosing geographic areas as case studies, and suggest partnerships required to conduct regional and global assessments.
Source: UN Environment Programme and Stockholm Environment Institute | December 2009
This report examines the role of rainwater harvesting in promoting human well-being and environmental health. The authors argue that rainwater harvesting improves groundwater supplies, livelihoods and economies. They present case studies including floriculture in Kenya, farmer benefits in Mauritania and rainfed agriculture in India. The report suggests improving land rights, providing subsidies and encouraging capacity building.
Source: IUCN | 2004
This report published by the IUCN (The World Conservation Union) is based on participatory consultations with stakeholders and provides a comprehensive and in-depth account of West Africa's vulnerability to climate impacts on water resources, wetlands and desertification.
The report contains two parts; the first section details the regional context, climate impacts on water resources and West Africa's preparedness at present. This is followed by an outline of a potential regional adaptation strategy, its methods and its implementation.
This report offers recommendations on how African water resources specifically may be affected by climate change, but also ways collaboration for adaptation can be strategic and useful.
Source: UK House of Commons | December 2006
This review of the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) by the UK Environmental Audit Committee expresses disappointment that the MA has had limited impact on policymakers and nongovernmental organisations around the world. The authors recommend increasing the report's reach by, for example, setting up a new Millennium Ecosystem Fund to help developing countries integrate environmental protection into their national development plans. The authors also call for the MA to become an ongoing activity with periodic updates on the state of the world's ecosystems.
The UK government is expected to publish its response to these recommendations later in the year.
Source: GreenFacts | 2006
This document is a three-tier summary of the 'Ecosystems and human well-being: desertification synthesis' report published by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) in 2005. It begins with nine questions and answers introducing the subject, defining desertification, its causes, effects and how it can be better understood.
Answers are then further developed, addressing sub-questions such as how vulnerable are affected populations? And what social, economic and policy factors contribute to desertification?
Finally, it uses extracts from the MA report itself to support the arguments made.
The document estimates that 10-20 per cent of drylands are degraded and identifies desertification as a major environmental challenge affecting some of the world's poorest populations. The MA report suggests prevention as the most effective way to cope with desertification but argues that reducing the pressure on dryland resources must be accompanied by efforts to reduce poverty, as the two are closely linked.
Source: UN Environment Programme | June 2006
Aimed at an expert audience, this report is an authoritative and up-to-date assessment of the state of the world's deserts, written and edited by some of the leading names in desert science. The report defines deserts to include all arid and hyper-arid parts of the Earth — some 25 per cent of land surface.
In addition to assessing the future of deserts, the report also highlights the links between deserts and climate change. It shows, for example, that between 1976 and 2000, global climate change contributed to rising temperatures in nine out of the 12 deserts studied. With temperatures set to rise further still, the Sahara is predicted to become drier, according to the report. The Gobi desert, on the other hand, is likely to receive more rain.
The report calls for more enlightened policies to improve the quality of life in deserts. In particular, it advocates moving away from plans that are energy and water-intensive, and instead supporting those that combine traditional wisdom on coping with drought with modern science and technology for sustainable resource management.
Source: UN Convention to Combat Desertification | 2006
This report describes how the UN Convention to Combat Desertification is being implemented in 10 African countries. In particular, it shows how ordinary citizens, nongovernmental organisations and traditional authorities are integral to implementing the convention's provisions. But the report also emphasises the need to work alongside national governments and expert communities as well as bilateral and multilateral donor agencies such as the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility.
Examples in the report include a project to restore a 1.2 million-year old forest in Djibouti and a project for establishing a community desertification trust fund in Kenya. The report also looks at how women took the lead in a tree-planting project to first slow down and then reverse land degradation in Ghana, and further examines the role women played in formulating new environmental laws in Zimbabwe.
Source: UN Environment Programme | 1997
This report contains summaries of what the UN Environment Programme considers to be beacon projects in dryland reclamation. Projects are regarded as successful if they are innovative; have a low environmental footprint, and help to increase social and economic benefits to communities. In addition, successful projects need to be self-sustaining for at least two years after external funding ends.
Source: UN Convention to Combat Desertification | 2002
This 55-page report (in English and French) contains case studies on how dryland communities and external organisations have tackled land degradation in Africa and Asia. The case studies were written from the perspective of non-governmental organisations in developing countries, and published by the UN convention secretariat in Bonn.
Source: UN Convention to Combat Desertification | September 2005
This 25-page report summarises the economic opportunities for the 2 billion people who live in drylands. In addition to agriculture, forestry, and livestock-rearing, the report highlights solar energy development, aquaculture, tourism, afforestation, bioprospecting, and mining as areas in which people and governments can (and often do) invest in. This report is aimed at policymakers and policy advisors. It is well written and contains good ideas and insight.
Source: UN Convention to Combat Desertification | 2005
In a candid reply to an official review of the UN Convention Secretariat's work, the organisation's head Hama Arba Diallo acknowledges that if problems are not rectified, they could threaten the convention's existence. In response to the review, member states have set up a working group to explore how to implement the review's 25 recommendations. Also on the working group's agenda is to begin thinking about a 10-year plan for the convention.
Source: UN Convention to Combat Desertification | 2005
Member states of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) requested this 24-page review, which pulls no punches about the convention's strengths and where it has gone wrong. The review reveals that the UNCCD's $17 million annual budget is half that of the UN Climate Convention. This is in part because member states from developed countries were not keen to help with finance – in itself a consequence of member states not agreeing on the convention's role or indeed whether it needed to exist at all.
The review also notes that the convention has had little effect on the national development plans of member states from developing countries. All this may be because the convention's activities lack focus. Is it an agreement about the environment or development? Is it concerned with local problems, or more global ones? The review also points out that the convention's title is misleading, as the fundamental issue is one of land degradation, of which desertification is a component. The review makes 25 recommendations to the secretariat, member states and donors.
Source: World Resources Institute | 2003
Where are the world's drylands? Who lives in them? How can the condition of soils be measured? This short book from the World Resources Institute (available in print and as an online download) answers these and many more fundamental questions on drylands and their relationship with people and ecology. Accessible and authoritative, it tells the reader that world's largest area of dryland is in Australia, followed by the United States, Russia, China, India and Kazakhstan. Most dryland people live in Asia (1.4 billion), followed by Africa (270 million) and the Americas (150 million).
Source: UN Environment Programme | 2006
The UN Environment Programme, based in Nairobi, periodically assesses the world's environment in Global Environment Outlook (GEO). This report can be downloaded as a PDF file as well as a set of free online data tables. GEO includes a neat summary of the extent, causes and severity of land degradation in different regions, as well as the relationship between biodiversity, climate change and land. GEO also includes data tables on how much land is under cultivation; the area of land being irrigated; and trends in fertiliser consumption. GEO is among the premier resources for factual information on dry lands, although its website's navigation could be improved. More for specialist readers.
Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science | 2001
For a rapid summary of current knowledge on deserts and drylands aimed at the general reader, the American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) four-page guide is hard to beat — even though it is a little out of date. The guide includes data on soil degradation around the world; a list of countries with large dryland areas; and a world map of dry lands. It acknowledges the uncertainty over the definition of desertification. It also points out that satellite images show the desert advancing and retreating several times since 1980 in regions such as the Sahel, depending in part on when it rains. The guide is published in the AAAS Atlas of Population and the Environment, which can be ordered or downloaded from this website.
Source: Centre for Science and Environment | 2001
Compiled from the archive of India's fornightly Down to Earth magazine, Global Environmental Negotiations is an impressive two-volume book that provides comprehensive information on the history and prospects of all UN multilateral environmental agreements, including the conventions on biodiversity, climate change and desertification.
The volumes are particularly valuable in that Down to Earth is perhaps the only southern-based periodical that has been closely following global environmental issues for well over a decade; they are intended as aids to negotiators and civil society across the world.