Achieving land degradation neutrality was the focus of the 14th meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) which wrapped up today in New Delhi, India.
Governments meeting in New Delhi agreed to make the Sustainable Development Goal target of achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030 a national target for action.
Another important decision adopted by COP14 was to buttress global efforts to better mitigate and manage the risks of drought and to build resilience to the inevitable impacts of climate change.
"We have woken up to the fact that we will see more frequent and severe droughts, a phenomenon that will be exacerbated by climate change," said UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw.
The conclusions of the conference, summed up in the "Delhi Declaration" come only ten days before the UN Secretary-General's Climate Action Summit, where world leaders will meet in a concerted effort to enhance ambition on climate action.
The outcomes of UNCCD COP14 will inform the New York Summit and the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference, COP25, taking place in Santiago, Chile, in December.
The UNCCD is one of the three multilateral environmental agreements on sustainable development, known as the Rio Conventions - on biodiversity, climate change and desertification- which derive directly from the 1992 Earth Summit
Mr. Thiaw underscored that the message to the upcoming New York Summits is clear, "investing in land unlocks multiple opportunities." He said a global movement of restoration, anchored in nature-based solutions, would deliver benefits for the three Rio Conventions and for many of the world's most pressing issues.
A key scientific input into COP14 was the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL) which said that land is already under growing human pressure and climate change is adding to these pressures. At the same time, keeping global warming to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius - the central goal of the Paris Climate Change Agreement - can only be achieved by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors, including land and food.
According to the IPCC, agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry.