Ms. Yukie Hori, Coordinator of the Awareness Raising, Communication and Education Unit (ARCE) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) opened the Land Day 3 event. She introduced the purpose and background to Land Day 3 and invited Mr. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, UNCCD to deliver the welcome address.
In his address, Mr. Gnacadja outlined the history and concept of Land Day and said this was the first event to focus on the links between the conservation of biological diversity and land degradation. He observed that desertification, which refers to land degradation in the drylands areas, is triggered by biodiversity loss, which then contributes to climate change. The three phenomena then become a vicious cycle. Thus, he said, the conservation of biodiversity is a key strategy in combating land degradation.
Mr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, CBD Executive Secretary, also delivered his welcome remarks. He congratulated Mr. Gnacadja for his re-appointment for a second term as UNCCD’s head by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Djoghlaf also drew attention to the start this year of the UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification, and the coming of age of the three Rio Conventions in light of their imminent 20th anniversary in 2012.
Ambassador Tommy Koh of Singapore, who served as the Chair of the Preparatory Committee of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development also known as the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, delivered the keynote address. Noting that the CBD, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UNCCD were products of the Earth Summit, Ambassador Koh reflected on how agreement was reached to negotiate the UNCCD, why the global community should care about desertification and why synergies among the three Rio Conventions is important.