Message from the UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw As we close the curtains of the Ankara Initiative, which supported the UNCCD for many years, let me start by thanking the Government of Türkiye for your global efforts to advocate for, protect, sustainably manage and restore the land. Since 2016, the Ankara Initiative has supported the UNCCD and its parties in building capacities and deepening their knowledge to successfully promote land restoration worldwide as an important solution to multiple challenges. Since its inception, this initiative has meant an influx of much needed resources to promote the objectives or our convention. One is through policy development in the areas of tenure and gender, as well as capacity building for our national focal points, specifically from Africa. Another is the support to the youth and the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Programme. More than a simple technical support, the Ankara Initiative has been part of the environmental diplomacy. Behind the concept of Land Degradation Neutrality, which was eventually embedded in the process of the Sustainable Development Goals under SDG 15.3, we have political and financial support of many countries, including Türkiye. Sand and Dust Storms constitute a grave concern to many countries and communities. They affect human health and wellbeing, ecosystems and communities, and deteriorate economic conditions of millions of people around the world. The Ankara Initiative has been a door opener for many conversations and technical workshops. We thank the Government of Türkiye once again for their invaluable support to the Convention. We look forward to a continued cooperation and collaboration.
It is an honor to speak on behalf of the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The UNCCD is hopeful that CBD Parties would agree to a strong and solid new global biodiversity framework. Such agreement would greatly contribute to the success of the three Rio Conventions. Land is the operative link between biodiversity and climate change – by focusing our actions on restoring the health and productivity of terrestrial ecosystems, we can simultaneously protect habitats, capture, and store carbon, and improve the living conditions of local communities. Global commitments to restore degraded land by 2030 have reached one billion hectares, with almost half of these pledged as Land Degradation Neutrality targets under the UNCCD. At their recent COP in Abidjan, the UNCCD Parties agreed to explore complementarities within relevant Multilateral Environmental Agreements in the implementation of sustainable land management, ecosystem-based approaches, or nature-based solutions. The Rio Conventions must deliver a coherent and integrated plan of action at all levels to finance and effectively tackle the intertwined biodiversity, land, and climate crises. In GEF-8, we welcome the fact that countries are being incentivized to move more of their programming through integrated programmes that address our interconnected environmental and development challenges. In that respect, we would like to encourage all Parties to align land degradation neutrality targets, nationally determined contributions, and the new biodiversity targets to maximize the impacts of nature-positive investments and significantly diminish the tremendous gap between commitment and action. Adopting new targets and agreements will only make full sense if we implement them in a coordinated manner, at all levels. Thank you for your attention. At UNCCD we stand ready to support you in promoting an enhanced collaboration for the wellbeing and survival of all species and the planet.