Representing civil society in the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)


The UNCCD ensures that the role of civil society in promoting sustainable land use is acknowledged and promoted.

Various Articles of the UNCCD promote the active engagement of civil society, for example, to facilitate the participation of local populations in efforts to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought and to develop their capacities, especially those of women and youth.

In the early days of the Convention CSO participation in decision making processes like COPs was poorly organised and not very effective or accountable. In response, Drynet lobbied for the establishment of a democratically elected representative body. These efforts resulted in the establishment of the UNCCD CSO Panel in 2011 (COP10), comprising representative from each of 5 regional groupings of the nations of the world. Every two years a new election takes place to renew the membership.

At the beginning of 2020 a “virtual election” took place and civil society organizations accredited to the UNCCD elected their new representatives to the CSO Panel, including two Drynet members (CARI and CENESTA):

  • Mr. Tcharbuahbokengo NFINN from FEEDAR&HR (Cameroon) representing Africa
  • Ms. Nahid Naghizadeh from CENESTA (Iran) representing Asia
  • Mr. Pablo Andres Motta Delgado from Mision Verde Amazonia (Colombia) representing Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Ms. Sabina Gasimova from IDEA (Azerbaijan) representing Eastern Europe
  • Ms. Manon Albagnac from CARI (France) representing Western Europe

The new panel members had their first meeting on March 12th and started to develop their workplan for the next biennium. During the current pandemic context this was followed by virtual meetings every month Building on the work of the previous panel, they are responsible to facilitate CSOs involvement in the Convention and to ensure that the voices of CSOs are taken into consideration as key stakeholders in the decision making processes. The key issues that the Panel will be taking forward in the coming year and a half are:

  • Ensuring representation of CSOs in the implementation of the COP14 decision on land tenure (that resulted of an advocacy conducted by civil society): a technical guide to include VGGT into LDN process and implementation of UNCCD is being elaborate by the FAO and UNCCD, the panel is committed to ensure that CSOs are consulted in this process.  
  • Ensuring representation and participation of CSOs in the coming CRIC19 and COP15 that will take place in 2021. The Panel will consult with accredited organizations in each region to elaborate priorities for these meetings.
  • Formalizing and capitalizing on the various processes of CSOs participation in UNCCD and Panel functioning: there is a need for more transparent and written information on how the CSO Panel works, in order to avoid loss of knowledge in the transition from one Panel to the other.

Drynet members thank the previous panel, in which Ms. Nathalie Van Haren from Both ENDS represented WEOG region, for its commitment to putting land tenure governance in the COP14 agenda. The decision taken on land tenure by the Parties during the last COP was unprecedented in multilateral negotiations.

Two Drynet members also represent the interests of civil society in UNCCD processes: Ms Nathalie Van Haren from Both ENDS has been appointed representative within the Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on “effective policy and implementation for addressing drought under the UNCCD” created by decision of the COP14. Mr. Noel Oettlé of EMG is the civil society observer on the UNCCD SPI.

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