October 26, 2011

United Nations works to address desertification

HRH Prince Charles of Wales (M): I do hope for the sake of the hundreds of millions of people living in the world’s arid and semi-arid regions, as well as in those temperate areas, which I fear will be tomorrow’s deserts, that you succeed with your endeavors.

VOICE: On Saturday, October 22 the two-week United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) concluded in Changwon, South Korea as over 6,000 delegates, scientists and other experts discussed ways to reverse desertification, land degradation, and drought, all of which have worsened due to climate change.

The UNCCD estimates that 6 million hectares of forests are being destroyed annually, with some 24 million people who have had to leave their homes due to desertification in recent decades.

Furthermore, a new United Nations report released during the summit stated that the Millennium Development Goals to reduce poverty cannot be achieved without responding to land degradation of vulnerable drylands, which compose 40% of the world’s land area and support 2 billion people.

Luc Gnacadja – Executive Secretary, UNCCD (M): Land degradation means life degradation.

Aruna Jobe – Program Officer, Gambian National Environment Agency (M): It has caused a lot of low productivity in our soils.

François Tapsoba – Representative of African Union (M): It requires a very long time for such soil to fully heal and recover.

VOICE: With a shared goal of achieving zero land degradation by 2030, the meeting highlighted the importance of halting unsustainable land and water use.

Ban Ki-moon – United Nations Secretary-General (M): If we protect, restore and manage land and soils, we can tackle many challenges simultaneously. Hussein Nasrallah – Area Manager, United Nations Development

Program - South Lebanon (M): In order to have food security, we have to work on combating desertification.

VOICE: With a primary driver of land degradation worldwide being livestock grazing, delicate ecospheres like grasslands are even more susceptible to desertification. Acknowledging this, some delegates advocated for a change in agricultural practices away from meat consumption.

Dr. Alfredo Guillet – Director General for Development Cooperation, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (M): There is no doubt that livestock industry entails double cost and double pressure to the environment.

Dr. Syaiful Anwar – Deputy Director, Indonesian Ministry of Forestry (M): Overconsumption with meat means that you have over-livestock production of meat. Then the problem with the livestock, usually they produce a lot of methane, where they will contribute carbon to the atmosphere. So I think I agree if we try to consume more vegetable diet.

Khadija-Catherine Razavi – Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Development (Cenesta) (F): Organic, sustainable use of natural resources is the most important thing for fighting against global warming and all this story of climate change, land degradation.

VOICE: To help achieve the Convention's goals, a first-ever set of monitoring tools was presented for use by participating countries, along with the Changwon Initiative, introduced by hosting nation South Korea to support follow-up work and encourage reforestation efforts worldwide.

Kim Hwang Sik – Prime Minister, South Korea (M): It will help set specific goals for combating desertification and pave the way to build partnerships for implementation.

Our sincere thanks, all delegates and experts for your participation in this conference to address one of the most critical issues facing our fragile planet. May leaders and societies work swiftly to protect our life-giving land by adopting sustainable and restorative organic vegan policies.

Sources: UN.org, Korea Herald, All Africa

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