UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), established in 1994, works with 197 parties across the world to improve the living conditions of people in drylands by maintaining land and soil productivity to build resilience, mitigate drought and combat desertification and land degradation.

It envisions “A future that avoids, minimizes, and reverses desertification/land degradation and mitigates the effects of drought in affected areas at all levels and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world consistent with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, within the scope of the Convention.”

The UNCCD is the sole international convention that directly links soil and land health to sustainable development, with a focus on vulnerable ecosystems including arid, semi-arid and dry subhumid areas, which are occupied and utilised by transhumance communities including pastoralists. These lands are also known to store more than two thirds of the world’s below-ground carbon and are rich in biodiversity.

The strategic objectives of the convention include improving the condition of affected ecosystems; combatting desertification/land degradation; promoting sustainable land management; contributing to land degradation neutrality; improving the living conditions of affected populations; mitigating, adapting to and managing the effects of drought in order to enhance resilience of vulnerable populations and ecosystems; and generating global environmental benefits that resonate with the goals of the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists (IYRP).

At UNCCD COP 14 in 2019, a side event was devoted to the question "Monitoring & combating land degradation in pastoral areas – are participatory approaches important?".

Several partners of the IYRP ISG attending COP 15 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on 11–13 May 2022 organised side events and raised awareness also in other ways about rangelands and pastoralists. The group developed comments to strengthen the COP Decisions and Declaration that are in line with the IYRP themes and key messages (see below). See also the Closing Statement of civil-society organisations, which recommends action on the IYRP 2026.