Closer and more active cooperation between business, governments and civil society organizations is the immediate next step for a land degradation neutral world, according to the Sustainable Land Management Business Forum, which has agreed on an ambitious new agenda for the next two years.
The Business Forum, now meeting for the second time, took place alongside the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (COP 11), and brought together business leaders and policy makers to discuss challenges and the potential opportunities of better land management practice.
It is the first time that the Sustainable Land Management Business Forum has met on the African continent. More than 75 business leaders from across Africa, Asia and Europe joined new Chair of the SLM Business Forum, Mr. David Nuyoma, CEO of the Government Institutions Pension Fund, in adopting a declaration. The “Windhoek Business Declaration” is an ambitious agenda for coming two year period. It was presented to delegates at the high level segment of COP 11.
The two-day meeting was opened by Mr. Kook-Hyun Moon, the outgoing Chair; Mr. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of UNCCD; and a representative of Mr. Calle Schlettwein, Minister of Trade for Namibia. In advance of the meeting, Mr. Wang Wenbiao of Elion Resources Group was recognized as a Global Drylands Champion for his significant contributions to improving the ecosystem of the Kubuqi Desert in China.
Discussions ranged from the potential of wind energy in Africa to the economics of land degradation and options to develop market-based mechanisms to encourage sustainable land management. A new partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development was also discussed. A range of business cases from organic agriculture to solar power technology and water quality testing were presented, underlining the potential of the sector.
In a high profile closing session, a signing ceremony for the launch of a green soft loans scheme for businesses was launched by the Namibian Environmental Investment Fund and the SME Bank Ltd., in the presence of His Excellency Minister Herunga, Minister of Environment and Tourism of Namibia.