DateMay 9-20, 2022
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire

The fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) took place in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, from May 9-20, 2022.

The Conference brought together leaders from governments, the private sector, civil society, and other key stakeholders from around the world to drive progress in the future sustainable management of one of our most precious commodities: land. ​

At COP15, the Global Environment Facility organized two side events highlighted below, and was featured at the Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP).

The Pavilion, supported by the GEF, is a collaborative platform that promotes synergies among the Rio conventions at the implementation level and showcases activities that link biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, sustainable land management and efforts to combat desertification, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. See the adjoining page tab above for more details.

Featured Publications

Two new GEF land degradation publications were released in advance of the Convention. Combating Land Degradation details the programming strategy, results in the GEF-7 cycle, and a look ahead to the GEF-8 portfolio and objectives. Also available in French. The Great Green Wall Initiative: Supporting Resilient Livelihoods and Landscapes in the Sahel looks at the development of support and collaboration for the GGWI, and the GEF's work in advancing the project's agenda. Also available in French.

Side Event

Present and Future of GEF Support to UNCCD: From GEF-7 to GEF-8

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In-person event streamed live, with GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodriguez.

Side Event

Enabling Activities: Innovations in the UNCCD Reporting Process

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The Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) at UNCCD COP15, from May 10-18, focused on addressing the interlinked challenges of land degradation, climate change, and biodiversity loss. The Pavilion, supported by the Global Environment Facility, is a collaborative platform that promotes synergies among the Rio conventions at the implementation level and showcases activities that link biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, sustainable land management and efforts to combat desertification, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

For a full schedule and more details, visit the official RCP event page.

The Rio Conventions at 30 from Earth Negotiations Bulletin on Vimeo.

GEF Participation at the Pavilion

Visit IISD ENB for this summary and photos >>

View the recorded livestream >>

The solutions to modern environmental crises not only build off each other to protect the planet but can support prosperity for people everywhere.

That was the central message at the high-level opening of the Rio Conventions Pavilion UNCCD COP15. The event brought together leaders within each of the areas covered by the three Rio Conventions to explore synergies in global efforts to reverse land degradation, climate change, and biodiversity loss.

The event focused on the Conference agenda as well as the ambitious upcoming COPs of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15 in Kunming, China) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt). Speakers outlined their hopes and expectations regarding the ways the coordinated actions of the three Conventions contribute to intergenerational justice by preserving nature’s wealth and health.

More specifically, the event sought to: 

  • promote high-level attention to synergies between the Rio Conventions as well as the Paris Agreement, the still-under-negotiation global biodiversity framework, and land degradation neutrality targets; 
  • emphasize the importance of integrated approaches at the global and national levels in implementing the Rio Conventions; and 
  • outline key areas for joint action under each Convention’s process and Global Environment Facility financing objectives, as well as raise ambition that can be translated into concrete actions.  

The event's key messages included that: 

  • the Rio Conventions address three facets of a single global sustainability challenge; 
  • the GEF's catalytic investments will be essential to achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, land degradation neutrality, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); 
  • the Rio Conventions serve as multilateral instruments to help countries develop national plans for achieving their development priorities for current and future generations; and 
  • during the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, key action areas focused on land restoration must be advanced under each Convention's process in a coordinated manner. 

Speakers at the event included:

  • Elizabeth Mrema, CBD Executive Secretary; 
  • Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, GEF CEO and Chairperson; 
  • Usha Rao-Monari, Under-Secretary-General and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Associate Administrator;
  • Julian Wright, Senior Advisor for Climate Change, Environment Agency, UK;
  • Jigmet Takpa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India; 
  • Nahla Noobi, Acting Head of Terrestrial Biodiversity, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, United Arab Emirates (UAE); and
  • Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director General, Environment, European Commission.

The event was moderated by Gabrielle Lipton, Global Landscape Forum. Andrea Meza Murillo, UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary, officially opened the Rio Conventions Pavilion.

Visit IISD ENB for this summary and photos >>

Visit the Rio Conventions Pavilion page for event description and speaker listings >>

View the recorded livestream >>

The Rio Conventions Pavilion Land for Life Day consisted of two parts: a morning session hosted by the GEF; and an afternoon session hosted by the UNCCD with support from the Elion Foundation.

The GEF-led program included: the sharing of experiences by different stakeholders who have been involved in advancing the LDN agenda and mainstreaming gender in this agenda; discussions on cross-cutting project issues that can affect the success and durability of countries’ LDN targets; and a presentation on LDN in the context of the eighth GEF replenishment (GEF-8). In addition, participants viewed videos on improving livelihoods through restoration of Chalghoza Pine in Pakistan and forest landscape restoration in Cambodia.

Land for Life from Earth Negotiations Bulletin on Vimeo.

6:45 - 8:15 am EDT
Local Actions for Sustainable Land Management: An Overview of GEF Small Grants Programme Portfolio

The GEF SGP portfolio on Sustainable Land Management (SLM) has demonstrated good practices of adaptive, community-based land management that combine Indigenous and local knowledge with modern techniques to address the degradation and destruction of agricultural lands, rangelands, and forest landscapes while also improving civil society capacity to implement integrated natural resources management approaches. The side event highlighted the importance of Indigenous Peoples and local communities action for SLM and to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets at the national and global levels. It showcased the SGP SLM portfolio involving women and youth solutions that lead to job creation and livelihood improvement and contributed to the SDGs in alignment with GEF and UNDP strategies.