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New UN study links trees in drylands with sustainable development

19 July 2016 – For the first time, a new United Nations report details the number of trees, forests and how the land is used in the world’s drylands, and the findings could be used to track progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and help fight climate change.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today issued in Rome the preliminary findings of the first ever statistical sampling-based assessment of land use in the world’s drylands, amid its World Forest Week.

Using freely available satellite images and a newly developed survey method, FAO found that drylands cover about 41 per cent of the world’s land surface – an area twice the size of Africa. Of that land, 1.1 billion hectares are forest, accounting for more than one-quarter of the global forest area.

The leaves and fruit of trees are sources of food for people and fodder for animals; their wood provides fuel for cooking and heating and can be a source of income for poor households; trees protect soils, crops and animals from the sun and winds, while forests are often rich in biodiversity.

The UN agency cites recent studies which point to the need to restore drylands to better cope with the effects of drought, desertification and land degradation.

Drylands are divided into four aridity zones. The least arid of the four is the dry sub-humid zone, such as the Sudanian savanna in West Africa, the grasslands in South America, the steppes in southern Siberia and the Canadian prairie. Most dryland forests occur in this zone, as do some large irrigated, intensively farmed areas along perennial rivers.

07 19 fao drylands

At the other extreme, the driest is the hyper-arid zone, which is dominated by deserts, including the Sahara and the Arabian.

More than 200 experts with knowledge of the land and land uses in specific dryland regions conducted the assessment, which will be released in full later this year.

The FAO Global Drylands Assessment is expected to provide Governments, donors and other stakeholders in sustainable development with a valuable tool to guide policy-making and investments to aid people already threatened by climate change.

The baseline information is being already used for the baseline assessment and monitoring in the FAO-implemented project, “Action Against Desertification”, an initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).

It is expected to further enhance Governments’ abilities to track progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goal 15on sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation and halting biodiversity loss.


COP21 - Paris Conference on Climate Change

  • 30 November 2015 |
  • Published in News
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UN Seretary-General- "We may never have this chace again"


Speaking at the opening of the United Nations climate change conference (COP21) which seeks to reach a new universal agreement to protect people and planet, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said a political moment like this may not come again.


“You are here today to write the script for a new future,” Mr. Ban told around 150 world leaders attending the kick-off of the much-anticipated conference in Paris, France.

“We have never faced such a test,” he continued. “But neither have we encountered such great opportunity. You have the power to secure the well-being of this and succeeding generations.”

Opening the floor alongside the President of France, François Hollande, the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, and the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, the UN chief recalled that last September, an “inspiring” newsustainable development agenda with ambitious goals was endorsed by all Heads of State and Government.

“You showed your commitment to act for the common good,” he underlined. “It is now time to do so again. I urge you to instruct your negotiators to choose the path of compromise and consensus. Bold climate action is in the national interest of every single country represented at this conference.”

Insisting that Paris must mark a turning point, Mr. Ban stated that the world needs to know that it is headed to a low-emissions, climate-resilient future, and that “there is no going back.”

Ahead of COP21, countries submitted voluntary climate action plans to UNFCCC, the UN entity organizing the conference. These are formally called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, and will form the basis of the agreement expected to be reached in two weeks.

The Secretary-General announced today that more than 180 countries have now submitted their national climate plans which cover close to 100 per cent of global emissions.

“This is a good start,” he said. “But we need to go much farther and much faster if we are to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius.”

According to experts, even a 2-degree rise will have serious consequences for food and water security, economic stability and international peace, which is why a universal, meaningful agreement in Paris is crucial, Mr. Ban told the leaders.

Turning to success criteria at COP21, Mr. Ban said the agreement must be durable, dynamic, embody solidarity with the poor and most vulnerable, and finally, the agreement must be credible.

“Developed countries must keep their pledge to mobilize $100 billion dollars a year by 2020,” he added. “A new agreement must also include a single transparent framework for measuring, monitoring and reporting progress. And countries with low capacity should receive flexibility and support so they can meet the requirements of this new system.”



COP21: UN emphasizes crucial impact of young and future generations to tackle climate change


YouthDay webThe halls of the United Nations climate change conference (COP21) grew livelier today as hundreds of participants gathered to mark “young and future generations day,” an opportunity for youth to remind world leaders and negotiators of the need to reach an ambitious climate agreement to secure their future, according to the UN Envoy on Youth.

“As the UN Secretary-General has said, we are the first generation which can eradicate extreme poverty but also we are the last generation that could reverse climate change,” recalled Ahmad Alhendawi, speaking to the UN News Service in Paris, France on the margins of the global event.

“It’s the task of our generation to get it done,” he continued. “And my message is that this is our power. The people who are here [at COP21] represent the more active and the more engaged in this debate but my hope could only be that this will trickle down as well in their communities. We have to secure and claim the space for young people in this process.” The process in which Mr. Alhendawi hopes more youth voices will be heard is the current talks happening in the 32 “negotiating rooms” of the 18 hectare conference centre locate north-east of the French capital.
Youth delegates – the ones the UN Envoy say represent some of the most active young climate advocates – attended the youth event on Thursday wearing t-shirts which read: “We must, we can, we will take action.” Some blew up large green balloons before letting them fly loose and deflate – a symbol of what their world could look like, should an ambitious agreement on climate change is not reached. Taking the stage, Mr. Alhendawi was greeted with cheering from the crowd as he wished young delegates a “happy youth day.” “This is one of the most important days – because what is at stake today is your present and future,” he said. “Nobody has the right to gamble with your future.” Following his remarks, in which he highlighted the importance of even little actions to tackle the significant challenges of climate change, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the organizer of COP21– thanked youth representatives for what they have achieved in their respective communities. “Thank you for what you’re doing not just at the COP but also what you’re doing back home,” Christiana Figueres said. “That is where the rubber hits the ground.” Echoing this message, Mr. Alhendawi said he is very proud of the youth movement around the world. “Young people were the mobilizers and the volunteers,” he exclaimed. “And they took to the streets reminding everyone that it’s time to take action on climate change.” During the event, a manifesto called “Our communiqué: Act like a kid” was presented, which urges world leaders to include climate education in the universal climate agreement expected to be adopted at the end of next week.





 Saint Kitts and Jamaica submit their INDCs

Saint Kitts and Jamiaca have become the first two Caribbean States to submit their plan of action for committing to a greener future.

This Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) comes in advance of a new universal climate change agreement which will be reached at the UN climate conference in Paris, in December this year.

This INDC and all others submitted by countries are available on the UNFCCC website here


Background of INDCs

Further to the negotiations under the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), the Conference of the Parties (COP), by its decision 1/CP.19, invited all Parties to initiate or intensify domestic preparations for their INDCs towards achieving the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2, without prejudice to the legal nature of the contributions, in the context of adopting a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties.

The COP, by its decisions 1/CP.19 and 1/CP.20, invited all Parties to communicate to the secretariat their INDCs well in advance of COP 21 (by the first quarter of 2015 by those Parties ready to do so) in a manner that facilitates the clarity, transparency and understanding of the INDC. In decision 1/CP.20 the COP also invited all Parties to consider communicating their undertakings in adaptation planningor consider including an adaptation component in their intended nationally determined contributions.



COP21 Infograph PART 1 EN



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