China hosts its first major environmental conference – Outcome strengthens global efforts against land degradation

China hosts its first major environmental conference – Outcome strengthens global efforts against land degradation


The European Union and its Member States attended the 13th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Ordos, China (UNCCD CoP13), September 6th-16th. This is the first time such a meeting of a large Multilateral Environmental Agreement takes place in the country. The COP adopted a strategic framework for 2018-2030 to guide global efforts to achieve a Land Degradation Neutral world in line with target 15.3 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and committed parties to address the role of land degradation as a driver of migration. Moreover, Parties advanced international policy dialogue on gender equality and women's empowerment for achieving sustainable land management.


During this session, the COP adopted a landmark decision for the future of the Convention, in the form of a Strategic Framework that will guide global efforts to address desertification, land degradation and drought over the next 12 years. This policy document sets clear objectives and a roadmap, and provides the means to track progress in the implementation of the Convention.

Parties also agreed on a proposal tabled by the European Union together with partners from Africa and the Arab region to address the contribution of desertification, land degradation and drought to addressing migration.

Moreover, in response to request by developing country parties, UNCCD parties agreed to step up efforts under the Convention to address drought, an increasingly acute hazard that undermines the food security, incomes and resilience of millions of people in Africa and around the globe.

The European Union contributed to advancing international policy dialogue on the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment for implementing the Convention and achieving sustainable development. Civil society organisations, the private sector, as well as science, are also expected to play an important role in this respect.

In recent years, close to 120 countries around the world have developed voluntary national targets for achieving Land Degradation Neutrality. This objective needs to be mainstreamed into land related policies and investments and resources need to be mobilised from all sources to achieve these targets as part of the implementation of the Convention and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

Innovative financial solutions that help deliver against these commitments and translate them into transformative actions on the ground were also presented. The UNCCD launched the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund, a new financial instrument that uses public finance to leverage private investments. The goal is to scale-up investments in sustainable land management, and achieve a land-degradation neutral world.

Land is at the crossroads of a number of SDGs, including poverty, sustainable growth, and climate change. The Conference concluded that working across silos on integrated sustainable land management approaches will therefore help achieve Land Degradation Neutrality, as well as the overall Sustainable Development Agenda.

The event has also marked the launch of the newly-funded EU initiative on “Addressing Land Degradation in Africa by Scaling-up Evergreen Agriculture”. The programme includes actions aiming at the sustainable management of land in order to improve livelihoods, food security and resilience to climate change and restore ecosystem services in eight African countries.