Desertification, along with climate change and variability, together with the loss of biodiversity were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) 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. In the UNCCD 2018−2030 Strategic Framework Parties to the Convention further specified their goals to reach “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.
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, including goal 15, which aims to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.” As main expected results it defines under target 15.3 to “combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world” by 2030. Since then, and based on relevant decisions taken by country Parties at the 12th, 13th and 14th sessions of the Conference of Parties (COP) of the UNCCD, the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) concept was endorsed as a strong vehicle for driving implementation of the UNCCD.
The Global Mechanism is an institution of the UNCCD, mandated to assist countries in the mobilization of financial resources from the public and private sector for activities that prevent, control or reverse desertification, land degradation and drought. As the operational arm of the convention, the Global Mechanism supports countries to translate the Convention into action and to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality at the national level. The GM has supported more than 100 country Parties to formulate national voluntary targets to achieve LDN and is also scaling up support to Parties in their efforts to develop and implement Land Degradation Neutrality transformative projects and programmes in collaboration with international partners.