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At UN convention, scientists propose global indicator to measure droughts

UNCCD lead scientist Barron Joseph Orr proposes a three-tier system for establishing a drought indicator.

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New Delhi: A new comprehensive global indicator for measuring droughts and vulnerability of communities was proposed on Day Three of the ongoing 14th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Wednesday.

UNCCD lead scientist Barron Joseph Orr proposed a three-tier system for establishing a drought indicator and a monitoring framework to the Committee for the Review of the Implementation (CRIC). The CRIC assists the COP in regularly reviewing implementation of the convention. The conference is taking place in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, this year.

The Committee on Science and Technology (CST) — a subsidiary body that provides information and advice on scientific and technological matters to the COP — was asked by the COP for assistance in defining and developing a framework for monitoring drought.

The CST, in collaboration with other members of the Science-Policy Interface (SPI), have in turn formed a working group to review the options and possible indicators.

Also read: Need to tackle land degradation to maintain global peace, says top UN official

Three-tier approach to tackle drought

Drought preparedness and mitigation is one of the six “strategic objectives” that the UNCCD has been focusing on. Others are centered around gender issues, migration, land tenure, achieving land degradation neutrality and preparedness against sand as well as dust storms.

Orr had explained that a three-tier approach should involve calculating a simple drought hazard indicator, a drought exposure indicator and a comprehensive drought vulnerability indicator.

The drought hazard indicator would be a commonly calculated and easy-to-use global indicator for which data is already being produced in most countries. The simple drought exposure indicator would link the drought hazard indicator with a commonly calculated and easy-to-use proxy for drought exposure – such as the population exposed to drought.

The comprehensive drought vulnerability indicator would build on the first two levels to better address the strategic objective — which is to mitigate, adapt and manage the effects of drought — in order to enhance resilience of vulnerable populations and ecosystems.

The proceedings of the COP, CRIC and CST are being updated daily in provisional documents.

Together, these committees are expected to agree on 30 decisions aimed at strengthening land-use policies worldwide and addressing emerging threats such as forced migration, sand and dust storms, as well as droughts.

The final outcome of the convention will be presented at a press conference by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and the Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UNCCD, on 13 September.

Also read: Indian doctors are buying water for surgery as drought worsens


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