United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

Official title: United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Subject category:
Climate Change
Type of agreement / instrument:
Legally-binding treaty
  • Signed by Canada  1994
  • Ratified by Canada 1995
  • In force in Canada 1995
  • In force internationally 1996
  • Canada withdrew in 2014, rejoined in 2016, became a full party on March 21, 2017
Lead & partner departments:
Global Affairs Canada
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada
For further information:
Web links:
GAC Media Relations Office
Compendium edition:
October 2018
Reference #:

Plain language summary

The impacts of desertification can be felt both in Canada and abroad. The UNCCD is one of the three Rio Conventions adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 - the others being UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Climate Change. The UNCCD is the only legally binding agreement that brings together the environment, development, and sustainable land management. Canada engages with the UNCCD, along with the other 196 parties, to limit desertification, drought, and land degradation. Since rejoining in 2017, Canada has played a key leadership role in the negotiations, including for the adoption of UNCCD’s Gender Action Plan.


The objectives of this agreement are to improve the living conditions of people living in drylands, to lessen the impacts of drought, and to promote sustainable land management

Key elements

The Convention relies on national action plans and sub-regional action plans as key instruments for its implementation. These plans are designed to align national initiatives with the overarching UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework.

Expected results

The Convention is expected to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality in efforts to restore the productivity of degraded land, minimize the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations and improve the lives of more than 1.3 billion people. The UNCCD has an important role to play in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 15.3. Canada is working with the UNCCD to ensure women and girls, through access to innovative technologies and reinforcement of land rights, are able to support and contribute to the restoration of degraded land.

Canada’s involvement

This Convention is important to Canada given the damaging environmental, social and economic impacts of desertification. With its dryland areas in Western Canada, Canada is considered an affected country party under the Convention. Canada supports developing countries in meeting the objectives of the Convention through the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which is the financial mechanism of the UNCCD, and a number of other multilateral environment agreements. Canada is the sixth-largest contributor to the GEF. The GEF allocates approximately 10 percent of its $4.43-billion budget to support efforts to combat land degradation.

Results / progress


The Canadian delegation attended the UNCCD Thirteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties in Ordos, China, in September of 2017. Canada played a key leadership role in the negotiations for the adoption of UNCCD’s Gender Action Plan (GAP), which is closely aligned with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. Canada is exploring ways to support the implementation of the UNCCD’s Gender Action Plan.



Canada plays an active role, by supporting UNCCD, in fighting desertification, drought and land degradation in the world. During the last UNCCD Conference of the Parties, in China, Canada played a key leadership role in the negotiations for the adoption of UNCCD’s Gender Action Plan (GAP), which is closely aligned with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. Canada will continue to work with its international partners, both under the UNCCD and in other fora, to implement its commitment to the fight against desertification.


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