UNCCD workshop on Land degradation in Central and Eastern Europe

Land degradation, one of the world’s most pressing environmental problems affects 16.5 percent of the land in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), according to the latest UNCCD baseline assessment; equivalent to one out of every eight acres or hectares of the land in the region.

From 6 to 9 November 2022, Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the countries in the region, hosted a workshop to consider actions to take to avoid, reduce and reverse the land degradation, and to increase the area to be restored. Most CEE countries participate in the drought initiative that is helping countries to be better prepared for droughts and have set their targets for restoring degraded lands.

However, more restoration commitments above the current 13.5 million hectares, or 5% of the total degraded area, are needed to reverse the ecosystem degradation and loss forests, croplands, grasslands, and peatlands in the region. The Workshop explored how to restore 350 million hectares of land degraded landscapes.

The workshop participants, drawn mostly from countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the UNCCD and agencies that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) finances to help countries to carry out the desired actions discussed a new GEF programming cycle, known as “Healthy planet, healthy soils,” which offers countries the possibility to deliver on their environmental and climate agendas.

The GEF is a financing instrument of the UNCCD and the largest environmental multi-donor trust fund. It contributes directly to the goals of the Convention through targeted financial and technical support to the countries which seek to meet the objectives of the UNCCD, and other international environmental agreements.

Participants were encouraged to work closely with the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, which assists countries to mobilize substantial resources to implement agreements under the Convention. It helps Parties to translate their voluntary LDN targets and national drought plans into concrete actions on the ground, including developing gender-responsive transformative projects and programmes that generate multiple benefits.

The Global Mechanism also drew attention to upcoming events relevant to the work under consideration, more specifically, the 21st session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC21) that will take place in October 2023 in Uzbekistan and the 16th session of the Convention’s Conference of the Parties to be held in 2024 in Saudi Arabia.

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