Statement of UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw on the Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats
The world’s 20 most powerful economies have launched an initiative to protect land. The Leaders’ Declaration issued Sunday, 22 November 2020, states that the G-20 leaders launched "the Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats to prevent, halt, and reverse land degradation. Building on existing initiatives, we share the ambition to achieve a 50 percent reduction of degraded land by 2040, on a voluntary basis.”
The G-20 initiative shows an unprecedented resolve by the world’s largest economies to conserve the terrestrial environment, and is expected to focus on capacity building, engaging the private sector and civil society and showcasing success.
Speaking at the event, Antonió Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, said the international community “is borrowing trillions of dollars from future generations for COVID-19 recovery.” Emphasising a “moral obligation” on the international community to ensure young people are not “burdened by a mountain of debt on a broken planet,” he said “the recovery must help to reconcile humankind and nature on all fronts. From climate to biodiversity, from protecting the oceans to stopping deforestation and land degradation.”
Indeed, we have one shot – this decade and no more – to save our lands. A study of all the global initiatives to restore degrading land released earlier this month shows that close to one billion of the two billion hectares of land that is degraded can be restored. This initiative by G-20 leaders is a signal that the time to invest in protecting and restoring the land is now.