The First LDN Forum proposes land-based solutions for peace and well-being
Seoul, Republic of Korea – The First Global Land Degradation Neutrality Forum, organized by the Government of Republic of Korea in partnership with UNCCD, took place from 4 to 5 July 2018 to discuss experience in strengthening global partnerships to support achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) and explore options to promote peace and security in post-conflict situations. Participants included UNCCD national focal points, representatives of international organizations, as well as experts on land management and security.
During the first day, members of the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI) presented the scientific conceptual framework for LDN, emphasizing that land planning and management are crucial to achieving a variety of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and maintaining LDN into the future. The importance of creating an enabling environment for LDN implementation was also central to the discussions, with several presenters introducing a range of innovative financing approaches explored in the LDN context, such as the value proposition behind its innovative investment mechanism of the LDN Fund. Other presenters showcased specific experiences in implementation – among them the Great Great Wall initiative in Africa, which works to improve life and resilience in the drylands of the Sahara/Sahel region and has recently expanded to eastern and southwest Africa. The presentations were followed by a discussion on ways to capture, disseminate and scale up best practices in sustainable land management (SLM), emphasizing the need to develop sophisticated organizational structure and results framework for initiatives that span multiple countries. The participants also discussed the need for private sector investment in LDN, focusing on ways to reduce risk and increase certainty in intervention design, using methods such blended public-private financing and negotiations on low interest loans for land stewards.
The second session of the day addressed the role of LDN in promoting peace and security. The presenters outlined a range of regional challenges in LDN implementation, from land use change and local conflicts over natural resources to decentralized government structures and the lack of reliable data. The speakers presented regional cooperation initiatives led by non-governmental actors, emphasizing that to be relevant, the concept of LDN must clearly demonstrate its benefits in the regional context and resonate with local people, including indigenous communities, youth and the media. Regional knowledge platforms also need to be created to facilitate people-to-people exchange and provide technical capacity by introducing simple SLM techniques.
On the second day, the high-level panel focused on the value of LDN in post-conflict situations. The Panel considered options to promote peace and security and improve the living conditions of communities in cross-border regions by implementing LDN – for instance, through collaborating on SLM. Ms. Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, stressed the need for a new initiative to achieve SDGs, including the implementation of LDN in post-conflict situations. She quoted the phrase by Otto Von Bismarck, renowned German statesman, “A statesman cannot create anything himself. He must wait and listen until he hears the steps of God sounding through events; then leap up and grasp the hem of his garment.”
The Forum supported and shaped the idea of a Peace Forest Initiative that will enhance trust and build lasting peace in post-conflict situations, while contributing to achieving SDG 15.3 through partnerships. The participants also agreed that the outcomes of the Forum should be delivered to other global fora to forge decision-making on the UNCCD and LDN implementation. As summarized by Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the President and Chair of the Global Green Growth Institute, "it would be worthwhile to explore potential partnerships among government agencies, international organizations, academic and research institutions, and even private firms to begin to identify projects that will simultaneously contribute to SDGs, LDN and post-conflict recovery."