01 Oct 2013 11:20
WINDHOEK, 01 OCT (NAMPA) The Conference of the Parties (COP) focused too much attention on science and strategies, and not on programmes which could alleviate problems of land degradation and provide income to the poor.
In future, we would spend more time on this. There are a lot of work that needs to be done on things that need to change, said Monique Barbut, the incoming head of the United Nations Convention to Combating Desertification (UNCCD) during a media briefing of the 11th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 11) to the UNCCD last week.
Barbut, who takes up her new position as from Tuesday this week, said the UNCCD has a direct link to issues like food security, human respect, migration, peace, and security.
Established in 1994, the UNCCD is the sole legally-binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.
The convention addresses the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the dry-lands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
Barbut said sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the The Future We Want document would be a good base to start the COP discussions in 2015.
The target date of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is the year 2015, and because it is approaching, a debate on the framework of international development beyond 2015 has started.
In this vein, 192 UN member states agreed at the Rio+20 summit to start a process of designing sustainable development goals which are action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.
The Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want, also calls for the goals to be integrated into the UNs post-2015 Development Agenda.
On the issue of financing, Barbut said there is just not enough money to finance every single project. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) provided already about US dollars 675 million to land degradation activities. However, financing has never been as good as it was in the last two years.
She said African countries get most of the resources with the implementation of big projects on the continent.
However, Barbut is adamant that programmes need to be implemented in Asia and Caribbean countries.
She gave thumbs up for sustainable land management programmes in India, noting that it is a fabulous example of what needs to be done in the world.
Barbut has extensive experience on sustainable development issues coupled with international diplomatic and political experience.
Since 2012, she was Special Advisor to the Chief Executive Officer of the Agence Française pour le Développement (AFD). From 2006 to 2012, she held the position of Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the GEF, and prior to that she served as Director of the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Land degradation and desertification threaten fertile land throughout the world. The consequences are alarming - smaller harvests, reduced availability of clean water, increased vulnerability of the affected areas to climate change, and food insecurity and poverty.
It is estimated that 1.5 billion people in all parts of the world are already directly affected.
In view of the worlds growing population, food security is one of the most pressing challenges of the time.