Press Releases March 2011 - Coordinating global action to combat desertification - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
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Coordinating global action to combat desertification

Bonn/Nairobi, 3 March 2011 - An informative video outlining the PRAIS initiative has been launched. Unique amongst the Rio Convention, PRAIS utilises an interactive online portal to collate information from 194 countries on quantifiable actions towards the UNCCD's 10 Year Strategy for poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.

Desertification, land degradation and drought affect over one and a half billion people in more than 110 countries. This is a third of the world population, 90% of whom are in low income areas. The pathways out of poverty often depend on the resources that are lost: land, water and forests.

Nearly a quarter of the Earth became degraded between 1981 and 2003. Every ten years an area the size of France, Germany and Switzerland is lost. Already by 1993, UNEP estimated the annual financial cost at 42 billion dollars every year, equivalent to all official aid to Africa in 2009.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, or UNCCD, works to improve the well-being of the world's drylands, re-establish and maintain productivity of the land, and mitigate the effects of drought. Achievement of this mission requires evidence for informed decisions on investments in the affected areas.

The UNCCD 10-year strategic plan and framework for the implementation of the Convention (2008-2018 spells out specific objectives for achievement, along with a set of impact and performance indicators to measure progress.

The PRIAS project is a new monitoring and reporting system, established to build the capacity of UNCCD stakeholders and coordinate data gathering to assess progress. The results from these initial phases are expected to provide the baseline against which progress can be measured.

The cornerstone of the project is the online "PRAIS" portal. It enables long-term monitoring of the Strategy by offering instant, worldwide public access to baseline information on the status of UNCCD implementation. This current portal contains information provided by the 2010 reporting cycle on performance indicators for the period 2008-2009, as well as the financial flows and best practices.

"PRAIS marks a paradigm shift in all intergovernmental efforts to enforce compliance. It is significant because it invalidates the assumption that achieving intergovernmental consensus on how to measure compliance is impossible. It is significant because measuring complex and locally driven phenomena in order to determine global trends is a challenge in and of itself. But you cannot improve what you cannot measure. PRAIS moves us into the realm of measurability by providing the basis on which we can assess progress and also define the targets we want to reach in combating desertification, land degradation and in mitigating the effects of drought," says Mr. Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD.

Full Release

Nearly a quarter of the Earth became degraded between 1981 and 2003 Kushal Gangopadhyay



Further Resources

Performance Review and Assessment of Implementation System (PRAIS)

UN Convention to Combat Desertification

UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification

Achim Steiner's statement

PRAIS video: French

PRAIS video: Spanish


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