17 Sep 2013 04:10
WINDHOEK, 17 SEP (NAMPA) - The 11th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), where delegates are discussing ways of tackling land degradation and desertification, opened here on Monday.
Under the theme A stronger UNCCD for a land degradation-neutral world, approximately 2 000 to 3 000 delegates from 195 parties, UN organisations, inter-governmental and civil society organisations have converged here to debate and arrive at solutions towards improving the living conditions of people in drylands; maintaining and restoring land and soil productivity; and mitigating the effects of drought.
At the opening of the event, Minister of Environment and Tourism Uahekua Herunga said land degradation poses a significant threat to developmental efforts.
The Convention to Combat Desertification deals with some of the most pertinent issues humankind is going to face in the decades to come. Drought, land degradation, unsustainable management of natural resources and climate change negatively impacts the livelihoods of our people, he stressed.
Since land degradation and desertification to a large extent are attributable to humans unsustainable utilisation of the environment such as deforestation for purposes of additional grazing and agriculture, these processes can be reserved through the introduction of management and utilisation practices, which are more sustainable.
The Environment and Tourism Minister said it is expected that a target-setting approach could lead to finding lasting solutions to desertification, land degradation and drought issues.
This requires concrete targets that set the level of ambition and awareness needed to encourage suitable policies and practices. In this context, a target-setting approach within the UNCCD would provide the necessary policy and scientific guidance, he added.
At the same occasion, UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja said the Convention has reached the midway point for the implementation period of its strategy (2008 to 2018), while the UNCCD is becoming a more authoritative institution.
This is the time to fully settle the UNCCD into that dimension. The time is ripe to capitalise on our achievements and lessons learnt, and adopt a higher level of ambition for ourselves and for this process. We need to move beyond a political agreement, and bring land degradation to the forefront of national policy, he stressed.
Gnacadja added that this will help all Parties to effectively deliver on critical policy issues at the nexus of food, energy and water security, as well as the eradication of extreme poverty in the context of sustainable development.
According to the United Nations (UN), land degradation is both a cause and consequence of poverty, affecting 1,5 billion people worldwide.
A total of 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil is lost every year because of cropland erosion, while another 12 million hectares falls prey to drought and desertification.
Namibia is serving as president of the UNCCD from the opening day of COP 11 until UNCCD COP 12, which is scheduled to take place in 2015.
This two-year term as president offers Namibia the unique opportunity to drive the global agenda on issues of desertification, land degradation and drought.
The COP 11 event ends on 27 September 2013.