Combatting desertification: COP15 of the United Nations Convention (UNCCD) in Abidjan (09-20 May 2022)


The 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will take place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 9 to 20 May 2022. The theme, “Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity”, focuses on the sustainability of the land for present and future generations.

In addition to the issues related to drought and land restoration, desertification also entails international migration, land tenure and gender issues. COP15 will mobilize States and major international organizations, businesses, research institutes and civil society to address these matters with a cross cutting approach, giving particular attention to the women’s “caucus” and young people.

COP15 is a reminder that the fights against climate change, the loss of biodiversity and land degradation are inseparable. As stated by Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD: “We cannot stop the climate crisis today, biodiversity loss tomorrow, and land degradation the day after.”

Desertification worldwide

Desertification is “land degradation in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas resulting from many factors, including climatic variations and human activities.”

Every year, desertification causes the degradation of 12 million hectares of land and it affects 40% of the global population. Not one continent has been spared.

This phenomenon is a genuine danger for human health, biodiversity, the climate, food security, stability and security.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is one of the three multilateral environmental agreements stemming from the 1992 Rio Summit, alongside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. It was adopted in Paris in 1994 and has been ratified by 196 States, including France, as well as the European Union (EU).

France’s commitments

In 2020, France renewed its strategic framework to combat desertification and land degradation, reaffirming its support to the efforts of countries threatened by desertification. The framework will help mobilize all actors concerned by desertification, promote knowledge sharing and develop effective and inclusive projects.

COP15 will be an opportunity to review the progress of the numerous global initiatives supported by France.

The 4 per 1000 initiative aims to increase the capacity of soils to store carbon by developing agricultural and forestry practices to help fight climate change, improve soil fertility and ensure better food security.

By 2030, the Great Green Wall aims to:

  • restore 100 million hectares of degraded land in the 11 countries of the Sahel-Sahara strip;
  • capture 250 million tonnes of carbon;
  • create 10 million green jobs.
    The Great Green Wall Accelerator for the Sahara and Sahel was launched at the 4th One Planet Summit in Paris in January 2021, with several international donors pledging €16 billion to the initiative over the next five years.

The plant protein initiative was announced during the European Union-African Union Summit in February 2022, held under the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, to develop sustainable plant protein crops in Africa.