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Summary and Closing

Summary and Closing - Land Day 4
​climate smart way for a production that is eligible for climate financing. Second, it had emerged that land has an unlimited potential to sequester carbon, and over time, and by a magnitude greater than that of oceans. Third, she suggested that the challenge is not simply scientific and intellectual, but also about the ability to deliver and scale up. Thinking outside the box, she stressed, is essential.

On Panel Session 3, Dr. Warner said that the issue about green growth and a green economy is an issue of quality. Soil quality would be a key priority for climate resilient growth. What’s the quality of green growth? Does it take into account degraded land and soil quality? Would it lead to enormous short -term profits at the cost of long-term ecosystem services and food security?

Mr. Klemens Riha concluded that the presentations and discussions from Panel Session 2 highlighted crucial points and put the issue of land and soil at the heart of the climate change debate. He said land, soil, and agriculture play central roles in mitigation, adaptation and combating desertification. Soil carbon and climate-smart agriculture support adaptation, also from a sustainable development perspective.

He said there are viable, technical options and alternatives that are readily available. These also can be adapted to different geographical requirements. Apart from science and technological insights however, we require the right political environment and institutional innovations, communications, and education. Only through these, he said, could the necessary up scaling be reached. One of the important points, he stressed, was the need to be able to express contributions and benefits to be made in economic terms in order to attract financial resources to close the funding gap. Mr. Riha also pointed out the need to manage land and agriculture to address the issues of soil and desertification, and to enhance the ability to achieve natural food security and development goals.

Mr. Philip Dobie concluded by stating that on Land Day 2, they had started to pose the question of how to reward people for being custodians of massive world resources, such as the drylands? Martial Bernoux, he said, had noted that all those who have been involved in land rehabilitation know it works, and is effective, but the upfront investment costs are far too high for farming families to implement sustainable land management practices. Dr. Bernoux pointed out that a much better mechanism would be to incentivize them by paying for the ecological services whenever they switch to SLM, instead of waiting for results before granting them money. Mr. Dobie ended by asking if they could reach an agreement over incentivizing the SLM practices in the run up to the Rio +20 Conference.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Allan Savory elaborated on the use of animals as a technology to combat desertification. He explained that animals break the surface, compact the land and return plant material into the soil. He hypothesized that if one animal undertook this on a fixed piece of land for 365 days it would degrade the land. But if 5000 animals undertook this task for only one day on the same size land, it would have a devastating effect on the land initially. However, without further animal interference, if the land is left idle, the result in a few weeks would be positive. This phenomenon is what he referred to as the “time dimension” in rangeland rehabilitation.

He said that an economic decision that is not socially sound is unviable. Equally, a social decision that is not environmentally sound is unviable. Thus, he said, the challenge for decision-makers is how to develop policies that are economically, socially and environmentally sound not only in the short but also for the long haul.

Mr. Savory stressed the need for a new way of thinking and a new framework. “We need a holistic and integrated approach to these problems,” he said. For example, in the war against weeds, businesses invest 300 million dollars a year, but they don’t even need one dollar to solve this issue. Mr. Savory said that business needed to understand that weeds support soil and can cultivate land. He suggested conducting an investigation into this in greater depth.

Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, made the closing remarks, by posing: “How can we ensure that scientific knowledge infiltrates mainstream thinking on climate change? How long will this take?” He said we don’t need a green revolution; we need a brown revolution to provide for long-term security, poverty alleviation, and to raise awareness.”

Two questions remain, Mr. Gnacadja said. “Firstly, can sustainable holistic land management be driven? We cannot simply continue to talk about it. We have been talking about it for 40 years. We need an answer. Secondly, will the business sector continue to invest millions of dollars into something that does not work? The UNCCD's COP10 is an avenue for policy makers to answer these questions.” He stressed the need for a system to better advise the international community, as the issue seems to be a blind spot of the global community. He said the UNCCD’s aim would be to bring these questions at the forefront when the decision makers meet at Rio +20. Our target, he said, would be to drive holistic management.

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