Statement by the UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw on the release of the IPCC Report on Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s Report on Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability released earlier this week paints an alarming picture for the future of people and the planet over the next 20 years — the space of a single generation.
Beyond 2040, depending on the level of temperature rise, climate change will lead to numerous risks that go beyond disasters such as floods and droughts. Fresh water availability will be compromised. The water flowing through our taps will not be enough to meet daily needs. Water to grow food will be in short supply. Malnutrition and nutrient deficiency will increase. What’s more, where the risks converge and interact, new climate hazards emerge, deepening overall risk. These impacts will hit the most vulnerable populations hardest — more specifically, indigenous peoples all over the world and local communities in small islands, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Central and South America.
The report shows that climate change and land health are fundamentally linked. It also shows that healthy land can be a major climate solution, but only if we act now.
Governments and scientists agree healthy and productive lands are key to reducing our vulnerability to climate change. They also agree that that action must be taken now before climate impacts radically alter the land’s life-supporting services. The more we delay appropriate action, the less effective our solutions will be.
The report comes at a critical moment and should encourage us to think much bigger and more holistically. We must seize the narrowing window of opportunity we have before us to make the push needed to conserve nature in both protected areas and productive landscapes while simultaneously restoring all land that has been degraded.
Momentum is on our side. The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is underway, with a billion hectares of degraded lands targeted by governments around the world for restoration. For its part, the G-20, which is composed of most of the world’s largest economies, has expressed a shared ambition to achieve a 50 percent reduction in degraded land by 2040. It’s a significant commitment that can move the needle towards the desired change.
As the global voice for land, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is urging all stakeholders to unite and act on the pledges already made to secure land-based resources vital to our survival.
At the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties to UNCCD this May, 196 countries will come together to agree on policies to invest in land restoration and improve early action on drought, moving from scarcity to prosperity to the benefit of all people and nature. This will be the first opportunity to heed the urgent call from IPCC, and safeguard the future of our land and our climate.
We must seize it.