PreCOP Biodiversity 2021 statement by UNCCD Executive Secretary

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Mr. President Duque,

Secretary General,


Friends and Colleagues

Warmest greetings from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

We are at a critical point in the discussions on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Hence the timeliness of this meeting.

Biodiversity and climate are two sides of the same coin. Land, a precious and finite resource, binds them. Land links species and carbon. It sustains life, above and below ground.

Much has already been said. I therefore have a single, simple message to you:

We need a strong biodiversity framework to ensure the future we want.

A framework that is anchored in ecosystem management. Particularly in sustainable land management.

We live in land.

When we degrade land, we erode our soils.

We inhibit our ability to feed ourselves.

We jeopardize the quality of the water we drink. Of the air we breathe.

When we degrade habitats, we accelerate species loss.

Ecosystem restoration - including land restoration – is a condition to successful climate and biodiversity action. It is the cornerstone of any strategy that seeks to restore balance among humans and nature. The foundation for the achievement of the sustainable development goals.

Let me emphasize: restoring land health has a triple benefit in terms of real and immediate climate action:

  • It reduces potent emissions from the land use sector,
  • Stores carbon in soils and vegetation,
  • Snd it enhances the resilience of communities and ecosystems, which in turn benefits biodiversity conservation.

It all comes full circle.

Land restoration is also a relatively quick way to create jobs to drive a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and make us less vulnerable to the next crisis.

I am happy to note that restoration is being given high prominence in the current draft of the framework that is being discussed by your negotiators. I am confident that that this will remain the case.

I can assure you that the UNCCD will be an active partner in supporting you to implement the global biodiversity framework once it is adopted. And this is where the synergies among the Rio Conventions will be most noticeable.

A comprehensive, complementary approach to the implementation of the three Rio Conventions is necessary.

No country will be fulfilling its mandate under one convention without fully implementing the other two.

The tools to leveraging the synergies between the three conventions are actually in our hands. Namely:

  1. The biodiversity framework,
  2. The Land Degradation Neutrality targets and the National Action Plans from UNCCD,
  3. And the nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement.

A land and ecosystems restoration approach will also guide coordinated action with other processes focused on human health, pollution abatement, water management, and disaster risk reduction.


The land is not the solution to all of humanity’s problems. We still need to fully decarbonize our economies, rethink how we produce and consume resources and intensively address the loss of species and other components of their habitats – as we are discussing in the context of this very meeting.

But if we protect, manage, and restore the land, the benefits will be immense.

Working together and collaboratively in policy and action, we can and must unlock these benefits, for people and the planet.

Thank you very much.