Photo: UNDP Niger

The Global Policy Centre on Resilient Ecosystems and Desertification (GC-RED) builds on the work of the Drylands Development Centre (DDC), which has been in existence through various incarnations for 40 years. It is also informed by UNDP’s renewed and explicit organizational focus on sustainable livelihoods, poverty reduction and inclusive growth; and environmental sustainability and resilience. It takes into account the reaffirmation in the Rio+20 outcome document that sustainable development has three interlinked dimensions, namely social, economic and environmental. It also takes into account the concerns of the global community as expressed in the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD), and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

A major dimension of UNDP's Strategic Plan for 2014-2017 is assisting programme countries in the design and implementation of solutions that would transform productive capacities, while avoiding the irreversible depletion of social and natural capital, lowering risks arising from shocks and improving the resource endowments of the poor and their prospects for employment and livelihoods. GC-RED’s work is located in this context. It undertakes applied research, develops policy tools and knowledge products, and codifies and disseminates knowledge on how to enhance sustainable livelihoods in communities in drylands and other fragile ecosystems, while maintaining their long-term ecological viability.

GC-RED has a substantial comparative advantage, which lies in the stock of knowledge embodied in UNDP programmes worldwide. Over four decades, DDC built up an impressive stock of programme and policy materials on improving the livelihoods of people and communities in drylands in various countries. Similarly, UNDP has a large inventory of programme results in promoting sustainable livelihoods from its work in countries emerging from crisis, going back several decades.  The organization also manages over 500 projects on ecosystems and biodiversity in 146 countries with funding from the Global Environment Facility and other sources. These are obvious low hanging fruits on which an impressive and unique UNDP policy work can be based.


GC-RED’s role in the interface of ecosystems management and livelihoods enhancement

 Photo: UNDP Turkey

Natural capital, biodiversity and ecosystem services are key economic assets, which generate a vast range of goods and services that support human survival and wellbeing. Access to ecosystems goods and services is essential to livelihoods globally. Many of the people living in severe poverty, especially those in rural areas in developing countries, depend directly on biodiversity and natural systems for their basic necessities, including food, fuel, shelter, medicines, clean water, grazing for livestock, and maintenance of traditional cultures.

Regretfully, the real value of natural capital and its contribution to the achievement of development priorities such as poverty reduction and food security is often not adequately understood let alone measured. Climate change and biodiversity loss erodes the capacity of the environment to provide goods and services. Climate change impacts, including drought caused by water shortages and shifts in rainfall patterns, will result in declines in water resources and decreased agricultural productivity. These phenomena affect the poor and women disproportionately, as they are more dependent on natural capital for their livelihoods. Indeed, sixty percent of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people are women who depend on their climate and natural resources to earn a living and feed their families.

GC-RED plays a key role in advancing UNDP’s commitment to inclusive and sustainable growth particularly in drylands and other fragile ecosystems through a focus on the interface between livelihoods and jobs on the one hand, and natural capital resilience on the other.  The Centre’s core challenge lies in exploring how best UNDP can enhance the livelihoods of the poor in drylands and other fragile ecosystems while maintaining or enhancing the resilience of both the households/communities and the ecosystem. More >

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