24 Sep 2013 12:10
WINDHOEK, 24 SEP (NAMPA) - The UNCCD launched a Soil Leadership Academy with the support of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Syngenta, a world-leading agri-business, on Tuesday.
The event took place during the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in the capital.
Syngenta is a large global Swiss specialised chemicals company which markets seeds and pesticides.
The main goal of the joint initiative is to fill the gap in capacity-building opportunities for policy makers to address land management issues through distilling and sharing the latest science, knowledge and expertise in soil conservation and sustainable practice.
Speaking at the launch, UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja said the academy will serve as a source of state-of-the-art information related to soil conservation and land-management. Through the academy, a network between research institutes, universities and key decision-makers will be created.
It should help bridge the gap between science and policy and to build the capacity of those who manage the land to access knowledge, he stressed.
At the same occasion, Syngenta Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael Mack noted that creating the academy with the UNCCD will help to meet the goal of sustainable agriculture and bring stakeholders closer to addressing the soil conservation challenge globally.
Fertile soil is the foundation of sustainable agriculture. But every year we lose an area of land with the potential to produce 20 million tonnes of grain. Syngenta has made a global commitment to improve the fertility of 10 million hectares of farmland by 2020, he noted.
The Managing Director of Natural Capital in the WBCSD, James Griffiths said achieving a land degradation-neutral world is at the heart of a sustainable future.
The initiative aims to support the 10-year UNCCD strategy to fight desertification and land degradation by accelerating land restoration worldwide. The academy will offer information and training opportunities to eligible policy makers and land-users worldwide. The ambitious project will become operational in early 2014 and will demand close cooperation between the partners, drawing on their comparative strengths.
Its key objectives will be to develop an efficient, community, business and land-user friendly decision-making environment to prevent and reverse land degradation and desertification; to support soil conservation and facilitate greening of arid, semi-arid and dry-sub-humid regions of the world; and establish a network of business and business representative bodies or organisations for regular engagement with the UNCCD providing business solutions and inputs on sustainable land management to the Convention and its Parties in order to contribute towards building a land-degradation neutral world.