UNCCD - United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification [UPSC Environment Notes]

UNCCD stands for United Nations Convention to Combet Desertification. Established in 1994, UNCCC is a sole legally binding environment convention that links development and environment to sustainable land management. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification aims to combat desertification and the ill-effects of drought. Learn about this convention, UNCCD COP14, UNCCD 2018-30 Strategic Framework and basic facts for the IAS Exam. 

The topic, Stockholm Convention, is an important segment of the Environment and Ecology syllabus (Mains GS III) of the IAS Exam. Aspirants can prepare similar important environment topics by referring to the links below:

UNCCD UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

UNCCD – Basic Facts

The UNCCD is a United Nations convention aimed at addressing desertification and droughts. 


  • It is a legally binding convention linking development and environment to sustainable land management.
  • The UNCCD addresses particularly the arid, semi-arid & dry sub-humid areas, called drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples are found.
  • The convention was drafted and opened for signing in 1994. It became effective in 1996 after receiving 50 ratifications.
  • The convention obliges national governments to take measures to tackle the issue of desertification.
  • The convention’s 2018 – 2030 Strategic Framework is a comprehensive international commitment to attain Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) aiming at:
    • The restoration of productivity of degraded land.
    • Enhancing the livelihoods of people dependent on them.
    • Mitigating the impact of droughts on vulnerable populations.
  • The convention focuses on having a bottom-up approach to achieve its goals, by involving the local communities.
  • The UNCCD is one of the three Rio Conventions, the other two being:
  • The three Rio Conventions work in close collaboration with each other.
  • To spread the word about the UNCCD, 2006 was declared as “International Year of Deserts and Desertification”.

What is Desertification?

Desertification is the process by which the biological productivity of drylands (arid and semiarid lands) is reduced due to natural or manmade factors. Desertification does not imply the expansion of existing deserts. Some of the causes of desertification are deforestation, over-cultivation, overgrazing, imprudent irrigation practices, etc.

UNCCD and India

India ratified the Convention to Combat Desertification in December 1996.

  • The nodal ministry for the convention in India is the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • India faces a huge desertification problem. A 2016 ISRO report stated that 29% of the land in India was degraded.
  • The 14th Conference of Parties (COP) to the UNCCD was held in India in 2019.
    • The conference which was held in Greater Noida had the theme, “Restore Land, Sustain Future”.
    • India is the COP president for 2019 – 2021.
    • India is also a part of the Bonn Challenge, which is an international effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s degraded and deforested land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.

UNCCD 2018-30 Strategic Framework

The UNCCC 2018-30 strategic framework reaffirmed the  2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda which is an integral part of it and recognizing the important impact that UNCCD implementation will have on the overall achievement of their objectives. The following are the important points of UNCCC 2018-30 strategic framework:

  1. Achieve UNCCD objectives and also the objectives of 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
  2. Achieve particularly the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 15 by 2030.
  3. Enhance the ecosystems; services.
  4. The strategic objectives are:
    • Affected ecosystems improvement
    • Desertification combating
    • Sustainable land management
    • Living conditions of affected population improvement
    • Drought effects mitigation, adaptation and management
    • Global environmental benefits generation
    • Mobilization of substantial and additional financial and non-financial resources to implement the objectives of UNCCD


The conference of the parties is the meeting of the ratifying governments. There has been 14 UNCCD COP till date. The latest being UNCCD COP14 that took place in New Delhi in 2019.

Some important initiatives introduced through UNCCD COPs are:

  1. At COP14 Prime Minister of India announced that the country will restore an additional 5 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, raising the land to be restored in India to 26 million hectares.
  2. Ankara Initiative of Turkey – It was introduced through UNCCD COP 12 that reiterated the very purpose of UNCCD and its objectives.
  3. Changwon Initiative of the Republic of Korea – It was introduced in COP10 that aims to enhance the scientific process of UNCCD.

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