United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), adopted in 1994, is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found. Parties to the Convention meet in Conferences of the Parties (COPs) every two years, as well as in technical meetings throughout the year, to advance the aims and ambitions of the Convention and achieve progress in its implementation.
When land is degraded and usable land becomes scarce, women are differentially and disproportionately affected given their substantial role in agriculture and food production, greater vulnerability to poverty, and typically weaker legal protections and social status. Nearly 80 per cent of employed women in least developed countries report agriculture as their primary source of livelihood, while women comprise 43 per cent of the world’s agricultural labour force.
The Convention text stresses the important role played by women in regions affected by desertification and/or drought, particularly in rural areas of developing countries, and the importance of ensuring men’s and women’s full participation in efforts to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought.
The fourteenth session of the Conference of Parties (COP 14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was held from 2 to 13 September 2019 in New Delhi, India. UN Women, together with the UNCCD Secretariat and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, launched a “Manual for gender-responsive land degradation neutrality transformative projects and programmes”, building on ongoing work to integrate gender perspectives in areas such as land degradation neutrality and drought. Read more about COP 14.
The thirteenth session of the Conference of Parties (COP 13) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was held from 6 to 16 September 2017 in Ordos, China. Parties adopted a decision on gender equality and women’s empowerment for the enhanced and effective implementation of the Convention. Read more about COP 13.