Last updated: 19 Apr 2024

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Desertification, land degradation, and drought, caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations, are a silent and invisible crisis affecting people in all regions of the world. As human life requires fertile and productive lands for many essential activities, halting degradation or rehabilitating degraded land through land restoration will be key to enhance biodiversity, restore ecosystem services, and mitigate climate change impacts. This page highlights the role of Geneva in tackling desertification, land degradation, and drought.

The Crisis of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought, and the Importance of Land Restoration

Desertification, land degradation, and drought (DLDD) are a silent and invisible crisis that affects people and the planet. As human life requires fertile and productive lands for many essential activities, desertification represents an important obstacle to sustainable development and an aggravator of poverty, poor health, lack of food security, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, forced migration, and lowered resilience to climate change or natural disasters.​ Estimates indicate that human-induced land degradation affects at least 1.6 billion hectares worldwide, directly affecting 3.2 billion people.

While desertification impacts mostly dryland areas, droughts have become a common event in many areas of the world. The ntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds medium confidence that agricultural and ecological droughts have increased in several regions on all continents, with variable certainty of human-induced climate change impact on these changes (Chapter 11 of the IPCC AR6 of Working Group 1 – 2021).

As the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste impact the health of land it is essential to halt human activities that lead to land degradation and work towards restoring land to protect livelihoods, climate, and biodiversity. According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), restoring degraded land globally could lock away three billion tonnes of atmospheric carbon into the soil every year,  supporting the achievement of the 1.5° target. Land restoration is also essential to ensure human rights, sustainable development, food security, employment, disaster risk reduction, ecological benefits, and improved public health.

Desertification

Desertification is defined as land degradation in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, mostly climatic variations and human activities (UNCCD, 1994). Although the term can include the encroachment of sand dunes on land, it does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts. It occurs, however, because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one-third of the world’s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. In the past decades, the range and intensity of desertification have increased, reaching approximately 30 to 35 times the historical rate and the risks from desertification are projected to increase due to climate change (IPCC, 2019).  While being a hard process to quantify, desertification is characterized by declining vegetation productivity, reduced agricultural productivity and biodiversity loss  (IPCC, 2019).

According to the IPCC, the major human drivers of desertification interacting with climate change are the expansion of croplands, unsustainable land management practices and increased pressure on land from population and income growth. On the other hand, desertification exacerbates climate change through several mechanisms such as changes in vegetation cover, sand and dust aerosols and greenhouse gas fluxes.

Drought

Meteorologically, drought is defined as a prolonged absence or marked deficiency of precipitation that can be characterized as a period of abnormally dry weather with a sufficiently prolonged lack of precipitation as to cause a serious hydrological imbalance (WMO, 1992). Other definitions include impacts like hydrological imbalances that adversely affect land resource productions systems (UNCCD, 1994; Article 1). Put into other words, drought is a climatic phenomenon that can occur almost anywhere in the world when there is a significant decrease in water availability (atmospheric, surface, soil, or groundwater) over a period of weeks to years. Climate change is increasing the frequencies and/or magnitudes of droughts in many regions of the world (IPCC, 2021).

Droughts are among the greatest threats to sustainable development, especially in developing countries, but increasingly so in developed nations too. In fact, forecasts estimate that by 2050 droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population.The number and duration of droughts has increased by 29 percent since 2000, as compared to the two previous decades (WMO 2021). When more than 2.3 billion people already face water stress, this is a huge problem.

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s 2022 report Droughts in Numbers finds that the African continent has been the most impacted by droughts in the past century, with over 300 episodes and bearing an important death and economic toll around the world. Projections indicate that by 2050, droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population, and an estimated 4.8-5.7 billion people will live in areas that are water-scarce for at least one month each year, up from 3.6 billion today. Up to 216 million people could be forced to migrate by 2050, largely due to drought in combination with other factors including water scarcity, declining crop productivity, sea-level rise, and overpopulation.

Land Degradation and Restoration

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) defines land degradation as “the many human-caused processes that drive the decline or loss in biodiversity, ecosystem functions or ecosystem services in any terrestrial and associated aquatic ecosystems”, and restoration as “any intentional activity that initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem from a degraded state”. Land degradation affects ecosystem functions worldwide disrupts rainfall patterns, exacerbates extreme weather like droughts or floods, and drives further climate change and it is connected with instability, which drives poverty, conflict, and migration. ​

On the other hand, land restoration is the ecological process of restoring a natural and safe landscape for humans, wildlife, and plant communities (UNCCD). Through land restoration, it is possible to reinstate the land’s function to store carbon, to prevent droughts and floods and increase soil productivity. ​ Land restoration can bring economic benefits amounting to USD 30 for every dollar invested in restoration (UNEP, 2021). Restoration boosts livelihoods, lowers poverty and builds resilience to extreme weather. Restoration increases carbon storage and slows climate change. Restoring just 15 per cent of land and halting further conversation could avoid up to 60 per cent of expected species extinctions.

The Triple Planetary Crisis

The triple planetary crisis is placing the world’s ecosystems under assault, with billions of hectares of land degraded, affecting almost half of the world’s population and threatening half of global GDP. Rural communities, smallholder farmers and the extremely poor are hit hardest.

Climate Change

Good stewardship of the land is vital to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and to help the global community stay on track to meet the Paris Agreement targets.

Restoring degraded land globally could lock away three billion tonnes of atmospheric carbon into the soil every year – offsetting around ten percent of the world’s current annual energy-related emissions. Overall, actions to avoid, reduce and reverse land degradation can provide over one-third of the climate mitigation needed to keep global warming under 2° by 2030.

Biodiversity Loss

Desertification and drought are threatening lives and livelihoods. Positively  harnessing biodiversity in ecosystem restoration could help communities to respond to this threat as well as mitigate against, adapt to the related negative effects of climate change, and improve human wellbeing.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, loss and degradation of habitat threaten around 85 per cent of all species described on the IUCN Red List. Human activities that cause land degradation and lead biodiversity loss are for instance expansion of crop and grazing lands into native vegetation, unsustainable agricultural and forestry practices, urban expansion, infrastructure development and extractive industries (IPBES, 2019).

Drylands support an impressive array of biodiversity. This includes wild endemic species – such as the Saiga Antelope in the Asian steppe and American bison in the North American grasslands that do not occur anywhere else on earth – and cultivated plants and livestock varieties known as agrobiodiversity. Biodiversity in drylands also includes organisms that live in the soil, such as bacteria, fungi and insects – known as soil biodiversity – which are uniquely adapted to the conditions. Soil biodiversity comprises the largest variety of species in drylands – determining carbon, nitrogen and water cycles and thereby, the productivity and resilience of land. The loss of biodiversity in drylands is one of the major causes and outcomes of land degradation.

Pollution and Waste

Pollution and waste — which can come from poor agricultural practices (not rotating crops to unprotected soils or chemical fertiliser and pesticide use) — are one of the main human activities that drive desertification. Poorly managed irrigation schemes that lead to increased salinisation and concentration of dissolved salts in water and soil, also drive such changes in soil quality.

Severe drought conditions can negatively affect air quality. In the way that desertification and land degradation impact climate change through reductions in vegetation cover, desertification can also result in increases in sand and dust aerosols, which can lead to higher exposure to respiratory diseases.

Human Rights Approach to Desertification, Land Degradation, and Drought

Desertification, land degradation, and drought have negative consequences for the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights including rights to life, health, water, food, adequate livelihood, self-determination, non-discrimination, cultural rights, the rights of the child and the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. This was highlighted in a policy brief and its summary released in 2023 by the UN Special Rapporteur on environment and human rights, including various recommendations.

Desertification, land degradation and drought, like most environmental threats, have disproportionate and differentiated impacts on women and girls and negatively impact the cultural identity and rights of Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendants and local communities that traditionally have a close relationship with, and dependence upon, nature. Such impacts include the following:

  • Gender inequalities are pervasive when it comes to land. Women are major actors in the global efforts to reduce and reverse land degradation. However, in the vast majority of countries, women have unequal and limited access to and control over land, with less than one in five landholders worldwide being women.
  • Land degradation negatively affects the cultural identity of some communities, particularly Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and erodes their traditional knowledge and management systems. Though difficult to quantify, many Indigenous Peoples and local communities consider land degradation to cause pronounced loss of their cultural identity and indigenous and local knowledge. It also causes a loss of sense of place and of spiritual connection to the land.
  • Migration as a result of desertification and land degradation acts synergistically with climate-induced migration, conflict and violence, leading to an exponential increase in displacement over the next several decades. Over 1.3 billion people are trapped on degrading agricultural land: farmers on marginal land, especially in the drylands, have limited options for alternative livelihoods and are often excluded from wider infrastructure and economic development. If no urgent actions are taken to protect, restore and rehabilitate vital land resources, desertification, land degradation and drought will increase poverty and inequality, leaving many with few other options than to embark on perilous out-migration journeys.

As the global environmental crises are also human rights crises, developing and implementing systemic, integrated and human rights-based approaches is imperative to tackle desertification, land degradation and drought. Rights-based approaches impose an obligation to act, are a catalyst for accelerated action, and without a doubt are the most effective, efficient, and equitable way forward. A rights-based approach emphasizes States’ obligation to address the underlying causes of desertification and land degradation.

Global Responses to Desertification, Land Degradation, and Drought

Healthy land is central to the well-being of the planet’s ecosystems and biodiversity; it feeds us, shelters us, and provides the backbone to a thriving global economy. Desertification is a global issue, with serious implications worldwide for biodiversity, eco-safety, poverty eradication, socio-economic stability and sustainable development. A global response is needed to respond to the global transboundary crisis of desertification, land degradation, and drought.

UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was established in 1994 to protect and restore our land and ensure a safer, just, and more sustainable future. The UNCCD is the only legally binding framework set up to address desertification and the effects of drought, and has 197 Parties to the Convention, including 196 country Parties and the European Union. The Convention – based on the principles of participation, partnership and decentralization – is a multilateral commitment to mitigate the impact of land degradation, and protect our land so we can provide food, water, shelter and economic opportunity to all people.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) — the Convention’s main decision-making body to guide in responding to global challenges and national needs — has met biennially since 2001. The 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP16) will take place on 2-13 December 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Held under the theme, “Our Land. Our Future.”, COP16 puts front and center cooperation and collaboration among the three Rio Conventions on biodiversity, climate change, and desertification.

UN Environment Assembly

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) — the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment — places combating desertification, land degradation, and drought high on the agenda, with various resolutions tackling the global crisis.

The UN Environment Assembly, in its sixth session (UNEA 6), adopted a resolution for strengthening international efforts to combat desertification and land degradation, restore degraded lands, promote land conservation and sustainable land management, contribute to land degradation neutrality, and enhance drought resilience (UNEP/EA.6/Res.14). Collaboration and synergies among the Rio Conventions were also underscored in the resolution.

Other resolutions highlighting the need to combat DLDD have also been adopted by UNEA, including:

Engagement with Other Processes

Rio Conventions Joint Liaison Group

Climate change, biological diversity, desertification, land degradation and drought are intricately related on the social, economic and environmental fronts. Because these issues are closely linked, the secretariats of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) are engaged in collaborative actions to solve these challenges at all levels. As such, the secretariats of the three conventions established a Joint Liaison Group (JLG) in August 2001 in order to enhance coordination.

Such collaboration can be seen, for example, in how the CBD has enhanced collaboration with UNCCD and UNFCCC, among other processes, to address “Biodiversity of dry and sub-humid lands” (X/35) in 2010.

World Environment Day 2024

The 2024 edition of World Environment Day will focus on land restoration, desertification and drought resilience, as the year marks the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration​

The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature. It is led by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity, were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Two years later, the General Assembly established the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), a legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management, and declared 17 June “World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought” (A/RES/49/115). This day, also known as “Desertification and Drought Day”, is observed every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification.

The Role of Geneva

Various international organizations in Geneva – listed below in alphabetical order – are engaged in combating desertification and droughts.

Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention)

The Water Convention, administrated by UNECE, strengthens transboundary water cooperation and measures for the ecologically-sound management and protection of transboundary surface waters and groundwaters. The Convention fosters the implementation of integrated water resources management, in particular the basin approach. The Convention’s implementation contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other international commitments on water, environment and sustainable development.

The Protocol on Water and Health, jointly serviced by UNECE and WHO-Europe , is a unique legally binding instrument aiming to protect human health by better water management and by reducing water-related diseases. The Protocol provides a practical framework to translate into practice the human rights to water and sanitation and to implement SDG 6.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office in Geneva

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that leads international efforts to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, and for the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources. The FAO Action Against Desertification programme assists local communities, government and civil society to restore drylands and to manage fragile ecosystems in a sustainable way. The FAO Liaison Office in Geneva is engaged in coordinated efforts related to climate change adaptation and natural resources management, among other topics, supporting member states to develop measures in the agriculture sectors in line with the Sendai Framework and the Paris Agreement. The office also collaborated with other Geneva-based organizations to provide contributions and technical work in this area.

Initiatives of Change (IofC) 

Initiatives of Change (IofC), a worldwide community committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behavior, addresses the issues of security, development and the environment simultaneously by bringing together practitioners to exchange experiences and lessons learned. It organizes the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security to bring together practitioners, activists and community and government leaders from Sahelian countries to interact with each other and works to resolve conflict and restore land at the grassroots level in several areas.

Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is the world’s leading source of data and analysis on internal displacement. As part of its work on displacement, disasters and climate change, IDMC monitors displacement associated with disasters, including slow-onset hazards such as droughts, desertification as well as the causes and effects of such events. Publications related to the topic include Monitoring methodology for displacement associated with drought (2020).

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network. To support communities in the context of climate-related events, IFRC provides information on what to do to avoid the worst effects of these events and provides support in developing nature-based solutions to adapt to these conditions and prevent displacement. In the case of droughts, IFRC provides information on what to do to prevent worse effects of droughts through agriculture planning for instance, to reduce risks for health and environment and to develop responses, including key messages on drought.

International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to create a world where people and the planet thrive. IISD is active in monitoring SDGs progress and developing policy briefs that tackle issues of DLDD, among which, From Land Degradation to Land Restoration. Still Only One Earth: Lessons from 50 years of UN sustainable development policy.

International Organization for Migration (IOM, UN Migration)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration promoting international cooperation on migration issues, including those linked and related to global environmental crises. In 2014,  IOM and UNCCD signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the 105th session of the IOM Council, and launched a structured collaboration on the land-migration nexus. The partnership aims to increase understanding of challenges and opportunities related to the interlinkages between human mobility and land degradation and create political momentum to bring these questions across global policy agendas.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the world’s largest conservation network with the mission to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and ecosystems. As a partner to the UNCCD since 2011, IUCN supports progress towards policies and programmes that deliver Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) through the application of nature-based solutions (NbS) as the preferred option for LDN achievement.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the objective of the IPCC is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC reports are also a key input into international climate change negotiations. The IPCC is an organization of governments that are members of the United Nations or WMO.

Minamata Convention on Mercury

The Minamata Convention on Mercury draws attention to a global and ubiquitous metal that, while naturally occurring, has broad uses in everyday objects and is released to the atmosphere, soil and water from a variety of sources. As part of its effort of addressing mercury pollution in the context of global biodiversity crisis, the Minamata Convention sheds light and addresses the mercury-related effects on land degradation. The 2023 Minamata COP-5 parties adopted decision MC-5/17Mercury and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, recognizing the potential for generating co-benefits through coherent implementation of both the Minamata Convention and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework

Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR, UN Human Rights)

As desertification, land degradation and drought affect a range of human rights, UN Human Rights underscores the human rights approach in combatting this environmental crisis. OHCHR, alongside the UN Environment Management Group Issue Management Group on Human Rights and the Environment, published Key Messages on advancing a human rights-based approach to desertification, land degradation and drought to articulate elements of a gender-responsive, human rights-based approach to land degradation.

Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR)

PEDRR is a global alliance of UN agencies, NGOs and specialist institutes seeking to promote and scale-up implementation of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and ensure it is mainstreamed in development planning at global, national and local levels. Among other activities, PEDRR is advocating for an ambitious post-2020 biodiversity framework, notably through the promotion of Nature-based Solutions.

Ramsar Convention Secretariat

The Ramsar Convention aims to ensure the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution toward achieving sustainable development throughout the world. Wetlands play a key role in regulating climate and storing fresh water, thus are natural solutions to combating desertification and droughts.

Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council

As this global environmental crisis affects a wide range of human rights, various Special Rapporteurs — independent experts under the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council — highlight and promote the human rights-based approach in tackling desertification, land degradation, and drought. A rights-based approach emphasises States’ obligation to address the underlying causes of desertification and land degradation.

As such, the Special Rapporteur on the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change have called for rights-based approach to combat desertification, land degradation and drought. The Special Rapporteur on the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, David Boyd, in a policy brief and its summary released in 2023, has also emphasised States’ obligation to address the underlying causes of desertification and land degradation, which are the same actions driving the other elements of the planetary environmental crisis.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, or UN Refugees)

The UN Refugees, the global organization mandated to protect and safeguard the rights of refugees, recognizes the adverse effects of climate change, including that of desertification, that contribute to vulnerability, human mobility and displacement and pose increased risk to the human rights of displaced persons. The factsheet on Climate Change, Displacement and Human Rights, jointly produced by UNHCR and OHCHR, presents recommendations to protect the human rights of persons displaced in the context of climate change.

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR)

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) is the UN agency engaged in reducing the risks posed by disasters by supporting governments, and decision-makers to adopt better policies and invest in DRR, as well as collect, collate, and share the latest high-quality technical information and data about reducing risk and building resilience more effectively. UNDRR monitors the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, supporting countries in its implementation, monitoring and sharing what works in reducing existing risk and preventing the creation of new risk. UNDRR oversees various initiatives to monitor, inform on and reduce the risks of extreme events as the Comprehensive Disaster and Climate Risk Management and the Early Warnings for All Initiative together with IFRC, ITU and WMO among others.

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

The United Nations  Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) works on regional collaboration on shared challenges, including those posed by droughts and desertification. Cooperation on shared waters can help to improve preparedness for climate-related extremes and, particularly, for droughts, for example through the development of shared information systems or data exchange across sectors, enlarging the range and location of available measures, and sharing costs and benefits.

United Nations Environment Management Group (UN EMG)

The UN EMG, which supports the UN system for a more coherent, consistent and rights-based approach to their work related to human rights and the environment, published Global Drylands: A UN system-wide response in 2011, which provided a progress on its work to prepare a UN system-wide rapid response and action report on drylands, with proposed options for a coherent UN-wide contribution to drylands challenges.

The Issue Management Group on Human Rights and the Environment of the UN EMG, alongside OHCHR, published Key Messages on advancing a human rights-based approach to desertification, land degradation and drought to articulate elements of a gender-responsive, human rights-based approach to land degradation. They have also published a Strategy for Engagement with the UNCCD to advocate for human rights-based action on DLDD within the framework of the UNCCD.

UN Environment Programme Disaster and Conflicts Branch 

The Disasters and Conflicts Branch of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has responded to crisis situations in more than 40 countries since 1999, delivering high-quality environmental expertise to national governments and partners in the UN family. The Branch conducts field-based assessments, works to reduce the risk of disaster, and promotes environmental cooperation for peacebuilding, among other activities. The Branch also provides innovative and efficient environmental solutions that help countries respond to crises and prepare for future emergencies, including those induced by drought, land degradation, and desertification.

UNEP/GRID-Geneva

UNEP/GRID-Geneva is incorporated in the Big Data Branch, within the Early Warning and Assessment Division of the United Nations Environment Programme. UNEP/GRID-Geneva’s mission is to transform data into scientifically validated information in support of environmental early warnings and assessments for sustainable development.

UN Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (InforMEA)

InforMEA, an online portal that provides information about Multilateral Environmental Agreements to the public, provides users with consolidated information on UNCCD, including treaty text, decisions, and national reports. It also provides a course on UNCCD in Countries experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa.

United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD)

The UN-REDD Programme is a collaborative initiative from the FAO, UNDP and UNEP. The programme supports nationally led REDD+ processes and promotes the informed and meaningful involvement of all stakeholders in national and international REDD+ implementation. By protecting forests, REDD+ mechanisms can not only maintain vital ecosystem services and preserve globally significant biodiversity but also sustain livelihood and mitigate climate change.

UN-Water

UN-Water coordinates the efforts of United Nations entities and international organizations working on freshwater and sanitation matters. It provides the platform to address the cross-cutting nature of water and maximize system-wide coordinated action and coherence. As climate change manifests its impacts through worsening floods, rising sea levels, shrinking ice fields, wildfires and droughts, UN-Water advocates for sustainable water management to build the resilience of societies and ecosystems and reduce carbon emissions.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

WBCSD is a platform for businesses to respond to sustainability challenges. After the thirteenth session of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification Conference of the Parties, WBCSD launched a business declaration summarizing their views and pledges. According to the declaration, for businesses, land degradation can translate into losses through a decline in the availability and quality of raw materials and higher cost of restoration, hence businesses can significantly contribute to the transformation of our economies to become land degradation neutral.

World Economic Forum (WEF)

The World Economic Forum, the international organization for public-private participation, provides a global, impartial and not-for-profit platform for meaningful connection between stakeholders to establish trust, and build initiatives for cooperation and progress. Every year, WEF publishes a Global Risks Report, in which the 2024 edition highlights environmental risks, including increasing droughts and desertification, which rank first in the current risks landscape.

World Health Organization (WHO)

As the health cluster lead for global emergencies, the World Health Organization (WHO) works with partners to respond to drought-related disasters. This includes: ensuring appropriate food supplementation; health services, like immunization, child and maternal health, and mental health; assembling mobile health teams and outreach; epidemic surveillance, early warning and response; and calling for emergency funding to support health action.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations and the system’s authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the land and oceans, the weather and climate it produces, and the resulting distribution of water resources.

World Vision 

To create a thriving environment for children and the future generations to come, by restoring the natural environment and working for climate justice, World Vision works on projects collaborating with the communities to identify the most vulnerable households and provide them with work. This includes through emergency response, relief and resilience building, during and after disasters, such as when droughts hit an area.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

WWF is an independent conservation organization active in nearly 100 countries working to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife. WWF is engaged on multiple fronts to help people and nature prepare for the many impacts of a changing climate. WWF works with communities and governments to understand and prepare for climate change; integrate environmental considerations into disaster recovery, reconstruction, and risk reduction; studies how people’s responses to climate change affect ecosystems and wildlife and assesses species to determine traits that make them resilient or vulnerable to changes in climate.

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