01 Oct 2013 03:30
WINDHOEK, 01 OCT (NAMPA) - Civil society organisations (CSOs) want governments to take a people-centred and bottom-up approach to the concept of a land degradation-neutral world in order to improve the living conditions of people living in drylands.
This was said by the Director of Earthlife Namibia, Bertchen Kohrs in a joint declaration issued by a number of local and international CSOs at the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which ended here on Saturday.
She said during COP 11, CSOs were engaged in the deliberations of the conference, and took note of a number of issues of concern which need to be addressed.
Proper land tenure should be granted to indigenous and traditional communities. This includes the right to use their customary laws, which they have been obeying since time immemorial. Governments must have the capacity to prevent land-grabbing at the expense of communities, she proposed.
According to Kohrs, CSOs also strongly disagree with having agri-business companies which produce genetically- modified organisms and which have patents on living organisms on board.
The group staged a peaceful demonstration during COP 11 about Syngenta's participation during the two-week conference.
Syngenta is a large Swiss specialised chemicals company, which markets seeds and pesticides. Partial bans of Syngentas neonicotinoids are already in place in Italy, France, Germany and Slovenia.
The CSOs also do not want mining to be allowed in national parks, protected areas and other sensitive dry-land ecosystems.
In communities where mining is already happening, compensation for the loss of land must be paid to all affected people, including indigenous and traditional communities.
Mine closure plans and funds for the rehabilitation of mining sites must furthermore be enforced, Kohrs added.
Regarding the roster of independent experts, she did not mince her words that it should be extended to include all components of civil society, as well as indigenous and local community expertise.
In order to avoid bureaucracy, such experts should not have to go through a national focal point in order to be enlisted.
CSOs are an important link between the international and grassroots level, and can help disseminate good practices in desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) efficiently.
Therefore, we request the Parties to provide more financial support for CSOs to build the capacities of local communities to document these good practices for the effective implementation of the 10-year strategic plan and framework to enhance the implementation of the Convention (2008-2018), she continued.