Monday, 16 September 2013
The 11th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD opened today in Windhoek, Namibia. The session was opened by the COP10 President and former Minister of Korea Forest Service Dr. Don Koo Lee. Wishing the delegates a successful COP11, the outgoing COP10 President recalled the Changwon Initiative, which envisions realizing a land-degradation neutral world focusing on critical strategic issues to support current efforts against desertification, land degradation and drought.
A large applause followed the COP10 President’s appreciation of the significant achievements and dedication of the outgoing UNCCD Executive Secretary, Luc Gnacadja, for his tireless efforts towards achieving a land-degradation neutral world.
H.E. Mr. Uahekua Herunga, Minister of Environment and Tourism, was then unanimously elected COP11 President. In his statement of acceptance, the COP11 President stressed the need to take huge steps towards the realization of a world without land degradation, following the outcomes of the UN Conference of Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro last year.
“The theme for COP11 “A Stronger UNCCD for a Land Degradation Neutral World” is extremely befitting this Conference,” The new President said. “It comes in the wake of global recognition of the important contribution of land and soil in attaining sustainable development, including food security and poverty eradication.”
COP11 is the third and last COP for Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja. He enumerated the endeavors he embarked on implementing – the UNCCD 10-year Strategy adopted at COP8 in Madrid – the UNCCD Executive Secretary said the UNCCD is now becoming a more authoritative institution. “The time is ripe to capitalize on our achievements and lessons learnt,” he said, “and adopt a higher level of ambition for ourselves and for this process.”
Subsequently, statements were made by the representatives of regional and interest groups from EU, Africa, Asia, LAC and CEE. A representative of CSO also took the floor.
During the opening session, nine vice presidents were elected from Burkina Faso, Republic of Korea, Cook Islands, Armenia, Lithuania, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ireland and USA. The Conference of Whole was established by the COP11 President and Mr. Chencho Norbu (Bhutan) was elected as its Chair, and the Chair adjourned the Plenary. (Read press release)
And in New York on the same day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Ms. Monique Barbut, France, as the UNCCD's incoming Executive Secretary to take over from Mr. Gnacadja, whose term ends 30 September 2013.
Quote of the Day:
I would like to remind you that you have come to what we Namibians like to call The Land of The Brave, and I challenge each one of you to take brave and bold steps over the next two weeks towards achieving sustainable land use.
H.E. Mr. Uahekua Herunga, COP11 President and Minister of Environment and Tourism