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Panel session 1

How the world can curb carbon emission by setting a sustainable development goal on land and a zero-net land degradation as target?

This panel session was facilitated by Mr. Hans Nilsagård, Senior Forest Officer, Government of Sweden.

Hans Nilsagård Senior advisor at Ministry of Agriculture, with special focus on forests & climate. He is part of the Swedish negotiation team in the UNFCCC process since 2003, leading in land use issues including REDD+ and chaired the EU expert group on LULUCF during the Swedish EU Presidency (2009). Mr. Nilsagård began in the govermental offices as a Special advisor at Ministry of Industry in 2003. Earlier tasks of him include coordinator of the 2008 government bill on forest policies and the governmental recovery actions following the large storm in Sweden in 2005. After research studies in forest products trade, he worked as a Natural resource economist at the European Commission´s Joint Research Centre in Seville, Spain (2000-2002), assessing EU policies on GM plants in agriculture.

Mr. Alexander Müller, Assistant Director-General, Food and Agriculture of the United Nations (FAO), focused on the importance of soils for global food security. He emphasized the need for a partnership among the different organizations that deal with soils in order to effectively address the challenge and called for positioning soils high on the global political agenda. In light of future food demand, he underlined the need to minimize food loss in the food chain, with attention given to the last post-harvest losses in developing countries and consumption waste in developed countries.

Professor Uriel Safriel, (ppt Uriel Safriel.pdfPPT_Uriel Safriel.pdf) Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, argued that achieving zero-net land degradation - that is, the restoration of degraded land that is equivalent to the amount degraded within a given period of time - would move the global community from the vicious cycle of land degradation to the virtuous cycle where biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation are maintained. Focusing on soil erosion, as it makes up 90% of all drivers of land degradation, he drew attention to the significant role played by agriculture in degrading the land and the mechanisms needed to reverse land degradation These include, the use of non-conventional agricultural practices, the development of an intergovernmental framework to address land degradation everywhere, and strengthening the science on desertification, land degradation and drought. Finally, he said the experience gained to combat desertification could be usefully transferred to address the land degradation problem in the non-drylands.

Professor Graham Von Maltitz, (PPT_Graham von Maltitz.pdfPPT_Graham von Maltitz.pdf) Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Pretoria, framed his presentation from a local community's perspective. He argued that the restoration of degraded lands should be pursed on a landscape level and premised on the wide range of benefits that accrue at both the local and global levels, as carbon sequestration is too little to drive development. He observed that as one moves further from the forests, more carbon appears to be in the soils than in the forests. He underscored the huge need for adaptation and resilience, the exercise of environmental justice and a good scientific basis that takes into account local knowledge.

Mr. Jesper Hornberg, (PPT_Jesper Hornberg.pdfPPT_Jesper Hornberg.pdf) Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), said that in anticipation of the increase in climate impacts, the AECF has developed a model to fund good business ideas focused on Africa's rural areas, and with a development impact and aid adaptation to climate change. He said up to USD130million has been earmarked for such projects, noting that a key requirement is the provision of matching funds from the commercial investor. He said the AECF's current projects are mostly in East Africa but AECF has expanded to the West and Southern African regions.

Participants inquired about: the scope of the land area targeted; the investments needed to move from degradation to rehabilitation of the land; the growing interest in biofuels and its role in driving land degradation; ways to ensure developing countries follow more efficient development paths; the possibility to restore heavily degraded areas; and ways to place the land degradation issue high on the political agenda.

The presenters emphasized: the importance of a landscape approach to land restoration; the change required at various levels, including financial investment, transforming local perceptions and beliefs and governance; the complexity in the issue of biofuels; the need to pay attention to the costs and benefits of land degradation, as well as the economic viability of restoring heavily degraded land; the need for research; and the importance of placing agriculture on the agenda of the climate change negotiators, particularly the subsidiary body on science and technology.


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