A major conference on drought and desertification has held a special Drought Day to emphasize the need to switch from a piecemeal, reactive crisis-driven approach to a proactive risk management approach.
““Drought is a major obstacle to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 15. We need to move faster in our fight against drought. Let us dust this villain, and mitigate climate change,” said Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in his opening remarks at the Drought Preparedness Day on 11 September.
The UNCCD secretariat dedicated the tenth day of the Conference of the Parties (COP14) to focus on the success and challenges of the current tools, methodologies and policies that support drought preparedness across the globe.
WMO was one of the co-organizers of the event, alongside UNCCD, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP).
Speakers at the Drought Day emphasized the need to shift from a reactive crisis driven approach to proactive drought risk management policies. “We need to prepare, predict, plan together to stop drought becoming famine. One actor alone cannot achieve this. We need to work together across countries, UN-agencies, NGOs, academia, indigenous and local communities, private sector, including family farmers and more,” said Rene Castro, FAO’s Assistant Director-General, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department.
The document is a guide to those responsible for drought management to support them in making the economic case for integrated drought risk management. Its main audience is development practitioners, who are engaged with governments and are often the ones advocating for more proactive drought preparedness.
Speaking at the launch, GWP Chair Howard Bamsey said that “to protect and support the vulnerable, we will need an all-of-society engagement – with political leadership, solid science informing policy, an emphasis on the gender dimension, and finance coming together.”
At a side event on Changing Minds on Drought Management, WMO Scientific Officer Jose Camacho explained the collaborative approach starting from the High Level Meeting on National Drought Policy held in Geneva in March 2013 that gave birth to the Integrated Drought Management Programme.
This is a partnership of WMO and GWP with over 30 institutional partners, offers a helpdesk to provide policy and management guidance through globally coordinated generation of scientific information and sharing best practices and knowledge for integrated drought management.
IDMP has delivered key documents in support of drought management as the National Drought Management Guidelines - A template for action, the Standardized Precipitation User Guide and the Handbook of Drought Indicators among relevant and useful information on drought monitoring, impact assessment and drought preparedness from projects in Africa, America, Asia and Europe.
The day also introduced a Drought Toolbox, developed by UNCCD as part of the Drought Initiative through close partnership with WMO, FAO, GWP, National Drought Mitigation Center of the University of Nebraska, and UNEP-DHI. It gives drought stakeholders easy access to tools, case studies and other resources to boost the resilience of people and ecosystems to drought.
Throughout the day, the achievements of the UNCCD Drought Initiative were showcased, as well as the important partnerships and frameworks such as Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP), the Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG) and the UN-Water. A webcast of the day is available on https://www.msbroadcast.tv/cop14india