Opening Land Day 5, Mr. Kgalema Motlanthe (statement), Deputy President of South Africa, highlighted the projected negative effects of climate change, in particular undermining security, development and human rights as well as threatening livelihoods and ecosystems for present and future generations. He said the negative impacts throughout Africa would lead to lost opportunities. "In moving towards achieving zero net land degradation, synergies need to be maximised between agriculture, adaptation, sustainable development, food security and poverty eradication with integrated strategies at the national level to address land degradation," he said, and stressed the "need to enhance the implementation of the UNCCD as a global policy and monitoring framework to address issues of soil and land degradation.
Ms. Joyce Mabudafase, Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, South Africa, highlighted the negative impacts of desertification, land degradation and drought on the affected communities. For this reason, she said, Land Day 5 was designed to be people-oriented, allowing for local communities, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to be engaged in the technical deliberations of the Day's theme.
Also speaking at Land Day 5, Mr. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification, said it is vital to move from a land use system where "we degrade, we abandon and we migrate," the DAM paradigm. That is how we ended up in the ecosystem crises we are in today," he said, adding that "the time has come to change our course of action, for a new model of development which will be land degradation neutral," whereby for every hectare of land that is degraded in a day, an equivalent amount is recovered in the same period of time.
Speaking on behalf of Christian Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Mr. Kevin Grose (statement Kevin Grose.pdf), Director, Communications and Knowledge Management, highlighted the collaborative work undertaken with the Desertification Convention and the synergy that flows in both directions. He noted that 70% of the mitigation potential in agriculture is in developing countries, particularly in sequestration in agricultural soils, he stressed the need for capacity building and to boost action at the national level, and drew attention to the joint pilot projects aimed to demonstrating how synergy can be achieved and enhanced.
Dr. Dennis Garrity, UNCCD Drylands Ambassador and former Director-General of the World Agroforestry Center, delivered a guest address explaining how the world can achieve land degradation neutrality in the foreseeable future by adopting the target of a zero-net land degradation whereby a hectare of degraded land is recovered for every hectare of land that is degraded. He underlined the need to make land care a grassroots movement, to classify all land by with regard to degradation, stability or regeneration in order to monitor changes over time based on shifts in biomass and food security, and to accelerate low-cost land regeneration practices, among other interventions.
In his brief remarks, Mr. Gugile Nkwinti, Minister, Rural Development and Land Reform, South Africa, highlighted the management of the animal and veldt (land) sectors with key elements focused on land rehabilitation, and called for their up scaling. He also drew attention to related land management initiatives being led by Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Ms. Lulu Xingwana, Minister of the Department of Gender Women and Disabled People, Ms. Tebogo Modise, North West MEC Economic Development, Environments, Conservation and Tourism, also made brief remarks. Mr. Siphiwe Ngwenya, Chief Executive Officer, Gauteng Economic Development Agency, highlighted the Agency's activities, which include the land care programmes.
The Resource Africa Theatre Group, with performers from the East and Southern Africa sub-regions, staged performances on the increasing threats of drought and water, the contribution of traditional knowledge to addressing the challenges and the implications of this loss for modern societies. They also highlighted the importance of community participation in decision-making in efforts to combat climate change and desertification, land degradation and drought.