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UNCCD COP 10 High-level Segment Considers Connection with Rio+20

17 October 2011: The first day of the High-level Segment for 10th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) included a roundtable discussion focused on the theme “The UNCCD in the context of Rio+20: Addressing desertification, land degradation and drought as a cornerstone of the Green Economy.”

Among other speakers, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), addressed the High-level Segment and reported on the UNGA's recent High-level Event on Desertification, noting recommendations to strengthen the scientific basis to better cope with desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), and to develop a goal for zero net land degradation, among others. Sha Zukang, Secretary-General, UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), said Rio+20 is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity,” calling on governments to show vision and exercise leadership.

UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja urged parties to build on the momentum created by the UNGA High-level Event, and take advantage of the opportunity given by Rio+20 to raise sustainable land management (SLM) on the international agenda. Hwang Sik Kim, Prime Minister, Republic of Korea, welcomed delegates to the Republic of Korea and expressed confidence that COP 10 will stimulate international action and cooperation in the fight against desertification, including through the adoption of the Changwon Initiative.

During the roundtable discussion, Co-chair Janusz Zaleski, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Environment, Poland, highlighted the recent consultations on the green economy in Warsaw, noting that Rio+20 provides an opportunity to renew political commitment for sustainable development. In a keynote address, Sálvano Briceño, Chair Elect, Science Committee, Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR), called for effective utilization of the risk reduction tools set out in the Hyogo Framework for Action. Concluding that combating DLDD is essential for building resilience, which in turn is at the heart of adapting to climate change, Briceño called for an integrated approach to funding humanitarian and development action.

Pointing to links between DLDD and poverty, and stressing the need for political will to address these challenges, Kabelo Mafura, Minister of Forestry and Land Reclamation, Lesotho, Moderator of the session, called on Ministers, Vice-Ministers and officials to offer perspectives on mechanisms needed to address DLDD in the framework of the green economy. Speakers commented on the debate over the definition of the green economy, and the potential for a green economy roadmap with specific goals and actions to provide an instrument to address DLDD. They addressed, inter alia, the need for poverty alleviation as a central goal, integrated approaches and recognition of the economic impacts of DLDD.

In the following discussion, delegates addressed the contribution of the fight against DLDD to the green economy by highlighting: the importance of synergies among the three Rio Conventions; the successes of land rehabilitation in the Republic of Korea as an inspiring example; the need to invest in natural capital; the role of governments in providing ecosystem services; regional and South-South cooperation; capacity building and technology transfer; examination of current consumption patterns; and links between DLDD and forest management. [IISD RS Coverage of UNCCD COP 10] [Sustainable Development Policy & Practice Post on UNGA High-level Event on Desertification] [President of the UNGA's statement]