UN calls for partnership on land degredation

Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General

The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Muhammed, on Monday called for innovative partnerships to accelerate individual and collective actions to reverse land degradation and loss of biodiversity affecting livelihoods globally.

Muhammed made the call at the opening of the ministerial segment of the 14th Conference of Parties (COP 14) of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Theme of the conference is: “Investing in Restoration to Unlock Opportunities.”

The UN top diplomat also called for urgent steps to speed up results of collective actions on all the issues relating to climate change.

“The sign is clear, both for land degradation and biodiversity; we are in a crisis.

“We need to build up innovative partnerships to scale up individual and collective actions.

“If we act with a sense of urgency and ambition, the same land holds a credible number of solutions that we’re looking for, the solutions that would let people thrive and not just survive,” the UN Deputy Secretary-General said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that India Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, opened the conference with Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint-Vincent The Grenadines, in attendance.

“We no longer have the luxury of spending the next 10 years meeting preparing the targets.

“We have two weeks to move our common agenda in the right direction to bend the curve on a planet of less than two degrees, toward action and impact,” she said.

According to her, restoring 150 million hectares of farmland can feed 200 million more people every year and over 30 billion a year in increased income for small stakeholders.

Also, Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, said present and inter-generational impacts of land degradation underlined the plight of children being born “whose future is not in the hands of the parents alone, but of humanity at large”.

Thiaw drew attention to recent scientific assessments that revealed the harm caused by land degradation.

UNCCD executive secretary said, “combining our land with three little concepts of equality, partnerships and scale can take us a very long way toward our common goals.”

Thiaw restated the role of the private sector in ramping up land restoration, particularly for vulnerable, rural and smallholder farmers, and clarified that engagement with the private sector was not the same as privatising land.

The UNCCD boss said that desertification and land degradation have security dimension resulting in clashes between farmers and herdsmen over access to land and water.

Thiaw said that UNCCD was putting in place programmes to support local authorities with sustainable land use systems, establish regional trans human corridors across borders and set up good water management systems in communities in the Sahel region.

NAN reports that over 8,000 delegates, including ministers, Heads of UN and Inter-governmental bodies, youth, local governments, business leaders and representatives of non-governmental organisations are attending the Conference.

COP14, which ends on Friday, is expected to adopt over 30 decisions and a few country-led initiatives on the actions governments will take to reverse land degradation, especially over the next two years, and also beyond.