Private sector involvement in sustainable land management vital to ensuring future of productive lands around the world
Changwon, Republic of Korea, 19 October 2011 - Nearly 100 business leaders have declared their support to combat land degradation and restore productive lands during the tenth session of the Conference of the Partiesto the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Over the next 25 years land degradation could reduce global food production by as much as 12 per cent leading to a 30 per cent increase in world food prices. More than 12 million hectares of productive land are lost due to desertification every year. While productive land becomes scarcer, providing food for the 9 billion people predicted to live on Earth in 2050 will require a 70 per cent increase in global food production. With the need growing for a diminishing natural resource, the private sector must be included to ensure protection of productive lands and restoration of degraded lands.
"Sustainability is the opportunity for the 21st century,"UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja said at the opening of the forum. "Businesses should be encouraged to adopt a precautionary approach to land management and to move towards 'zero net land degradation.'"
The forum gathered representatives from related companies and organisations, including Yuhan-Kimberly, Cargill Korea, Ellion Resources Group and KPMG, to examine the challenges associated with corporate activities on land and soil and to showcase best practices and lessons learned from businesses.
Designed as a private-sector-led initiative and voluntary action platform, participants noted that current environmental challenges cannot be solved without dynamic private sector involvement. Participants emphasised the critical role of the business community can play in addressing desertification, land degradation and drought.
To catalyse long-term business engagement in land stewardship and to make the forum a lasting body, participants adopted the "Gyeongnam Declaration." The declaration stressed the need to reach a land degradation neutral world. It also contained a set of commitments agreed by the forum's business leaders.
"In the declaration all of our thoughts are reflected, and I believe this declaration embodies our spirit," Kook-Hyun Moon, President of the New Paradigm Institute, said. "Soil and the body is not two but one. Soil is the soul of the land and with the soil the land will be useless in the same way that without the soul the body will be useless".
The Gyeongnam Declaration is based in five main pillars: raising awareness within the private sector on the importance of land and the problems of desertification, land degradation and drought; promoting an effective public-private corporation to combat desertification; working together with governments to integrate the advanced technologies and creativity of business community and civil society in decision-making; Involving the universities and academia in the development of schemes that promote innovative business ventures aiming at sustainable land management;and encouraging the governments to develop new policies and incentives related to sustainable land management.
The forum, which took place from 17-18 October, was organized by Korea Forest Service of the Republic of Korea, the New Paradigm Institute and UNCCD.
About the UNCCD
Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity, were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Established in 1994, UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment, development and the promotion of healthy soils. The Convention's 194 signatory Parties work to alleviate poverty in the drylands, maintain and restore the land's productivity, and mitigate the effects of drought.
For more information, please visit http://www.unccd.int/cop/cop10/menu.php
Mr. Marcos Montoiro, tel: +49-228-815-2826, email: mmontoiro [at] unccd.int (mmontoiroatunccddotint)
Mr. Kook-Hyun Moon, tel: +822 2646 2001, email: moonkhorea [at] yahoo.co.kr (moonkhoreaatyahoodotcodotkr)