The UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) participated in a committee that established a report upon the recent 11th Conference of the Parties (COP-11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Namibia.
The UNCCD COP-11 endorsed a decision developed by its Committee on Science and Technology (CST) to establish a Science-Policy Interface (SPI) to enhance the UNCCD as a global authority on land degradation and sustainable land management. This follows the year-long development of a modular mechanism to input science into the convention by a 12-member Ad Hoc Working Group to Further Discuss the Options for the Provision of Scientific Advice, Focusing on Desertification/Land Degradation and Drought Issues (AGSA).
The AGSA included Dr. Richard Thomas, Assistant Director for Drylands at UNU-INWEH, who served as lead author for the report’s section on functional modalities.
The remit of the AGSA was to propose “the most suitable components that would shape an integrated scenario for providing scientific advice to UNCCD focusing on desertification/land degradation and drought issues, taking into account the regional approach of the UNCCD”.
The proposed modular mechanism comprises three core modules: the SPI, an Independent Non-Governmental Group of Scientists and Regional Science and Technology Hubs.
The SPI is an intergovernmental interface that will consist of members of the Bureau of the CST, five scientists nominated from each regional implementation annex of the UN, ten scientists chosen through an open call and three observers (one each from civil society, an international organization and a relevant UN organization). It represents a smaller, more nimble process for communication than, for example, the current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that supports the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Many delegates at the UNCCD COP-11 opined that the decision to establish the SPI provides the UNCCD the best opportunity yet to help it identify and analyse land degradation issues, and to translate knowledge into appropriate policy recommendations. Some suggested that the SPI could turn the fortunes of the convention through building a new foundation on solid science.
For more information, including details of the AGSA report and COP-11 decision, see Collaborative Report upon COP-11 Conference on the UNU-INWEH website.