The exhibition entitled “Save the Earth, Save the Land” was opened at UN Headquarters on 28 September 2016. In his opening remarks, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stressed the urgent need to address the causes and consequences of drought, desertification, and land degradation (DLDD) which impede efforts to eradicate poverty and the promise to leave no one behind, which is the main goal of the sustainable development goals. “As population grows, we will need more land and more productivity, not less”, he stressed. “We must do so in a way that is climate resilient and sustainable. SDG 15 aims to protect restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. That means we must sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, reverse land degradation, and end the loss of biodiversity in the world,” he emphasized. The Secretary-General commended the more than 100 countries that had already agreed to set voluntary targets and emphasized that “the 2030 agenda for sustainable development was a road map for peace, dignity, and prosperity. But that vision depends on maintaining a healthy planet”.
Melchiade Bukuru, Chief of the UNCCD liaison office, then addressed the audience on behalf of the UNCCD Executive Secretary, Monique Barbut. In his statement, Bukuru reminded the audience that the the poorest and most vulnerable people were those living under the scourges of desertification, land degradation and drought. Achieving land degradation neutrality would empower those populations to join others in the enjoyment of prosperity and in this context, he stressed that “addressing DLDD issues through the target of land degradation neutrality therefore appeared to be an SDG accelerator”.
H.E Mr. Kwon Byong–Hyon, President of the Future Forest, and UNCCD drylands Ambassador also spoke on the occasion. He indicated that he had created the Green Corps with the belief that the Earth is Land, and that” our entire habitation would be lost when we lose our fight against land degradation”. Ambassador Kwon indicated that through the 16 years of work with Future Forest, he had not only realized the importance of preserving land, but that countering desertification was indeed possible.
The exhibition is co-hosted by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), The Future Forest, the Korea Foundation, and the World Federation of the United Nations Association. The exhibition and event attracted high level participation from Ambassadors, delegates, civil society and the business sector, including high level representatives of Samsonite and Subaru (China) and included a group of Chinese artists from the Forest-China organization, who presented artwork to the Chief of the UNCCD Liaison office.