The fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) took place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 9 to 20 May 2022. Among the participants was Dr Michael Brüntrup, DIE.
Once again, a Conference of the Parties (COP) took place: This time the fifteenth COP of the UNCCD; in Germany usually called the Desertification Convention. In fact, this smallest of the three so-called Rio Conventions is thematically broader than its name would lead one to believe; it stands for central issues, especially in developing countries: land and soil and droughts. In most poor countries, land is the most important productive capital and indispensable for fighting poverty and hunger, but also for economic development. Drought is the most significant natural disaster in many places, often with very long-term impacts on the livelihoods of rural populations.
COP15 shows that perspectives on UNCCD issues and the Convention itself are slowly changing. Over 6,600 delegates were present, a record. The perception by the press and politicians was tremendous. The host country, Côte d’Ivoire, engaged strongly, cocoa production – a hotspot of tropical forest destruction in sub-Saharan Africa – was addressed in many ways.
The drought problem has been largely neglected so far. Here, Dr. Michael Brüntrup of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) was able to contribute to its „rediscovery“. Within the framework of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on Drought, which was set up by the last COP14, he was co-leader of the working group „policies and institutions“ and a member of the three-member editorial team. The recommendations, such as supporting communities of learning and practice and further developing partnerships for integrated drought risk management, were largely adopted on 20 May. Ultimately, it is clear to all Parties that this is an issue that will increasingly concern the global community in the coming decades, as a local human and environmental problem and as a driver of regional and sometimes even global crises and migration.