UN Convention to Combat Desertification

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was established in 1994. It was an outcome of the Earth Summit of 1992 held in Rio de Janeiro.

UN Convention to Combat Desertification

It is the sole legally binding international agreement which links development and environment with sustainable land management. The Convention strives to ensure the participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation and adopts a bottom-up approach.


The Convention focuses its attention on arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas, collectively known as "dry lands", which are home to some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and populations. Its main areas of work include desertification, land degradation, and drought (DLDD).

According to the Convention, 'Desertification' refers to land degradation in the drylands (arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid regions) which can be a result of various factors and does not connote the expansion or spread of deserts. Land degradation refers to a long-term loss of ecosystem functions and productivity caused by certain disturbances from which the land cannot recover without an external aid.

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Land Degradation Neutrality

The Convention comprises of 196 parties which are committed to improving the living conditions of people in drylands, maintaining and restoring land productivity, and mitigating the effects of drought. It promotes sustainable land management (SLM) as a solution to global environmental challenges. The new UNCCD Strategy Framework 2018-30 is a comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in order to improve the livelihoods of over 1.3 billion people by restoring the productivity of degraded lands and reducing the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations.

The achievement of land degradation neutrality is essential to meet the targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since the dynamics of land, biodiversity, and climate are closely connected, the Convention works in collaboration with the other two Rio Conventions viz., The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by adopting an integrated approach to make the best possible use of natural resources and also meet these complex challenges.

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