Statement by the UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw:
Land sustains life on the planet.
Land provides us with food, clean water, and energy.
Healthy land is the basis for our own health.
Yet, one in five hectares of land is no longer usable.
Land degradation is affecting 40% of the world’s population and costing more than 10% of the annual global GDP.
As I speak, at least one million people are facing starvation because of drought.
At least 24 countries are hit by drought in 2021 only.
From 1998 to 2017, droughts have affected at least 1.5 billion people, and led to economic losses of USD 124 billion across the globe.
Land-based solutions provide us with an opportunity to recover better.
Build a more inclusive and sustainable world.
Using the Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement as our blueprint.
Land restoration has co-benefits with all Sustainable Development Goals and must be at the centre of our efforts, providing cost-effective solutions for green recovery at scale.
Today’s Dialogue has been a pivotal moment.
Our next steps should take us to the right direction.
From what we heard today from Member States, from the UN leadership and various other stakeholders, we are in a position to capture key points expressed and make the following call:
First, building ambition on land stewardship among different stakeholders as we move into the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration.
I believe the general thread from this UNGA Dialogue supports multiple regional large-scale restoration programmes.
The Dialogue underscores the need to adapt our production and consumption patterns if we are to insulate our economies and our societies from further catastrophic degradation of our natural capital.
The Dialogue comforts the G20 Global Initiative to reduce degraded land by 50 percent by 2040. And points to the direction of the recent G7 Summit.
Second, investing in land-based solutions to sustain COVID-19 recovery efforts, especially in rural economies, as they are win-wins for stimulus investment.
Land restoration is low tech, democratic, accessible to all.
Land restoration is one of the cheapest solutions to the climate crisis and is a foundation for a steady post-COVID economic recovery.
Third, helping us get the financing right to scale up land restoration and translate those commitments into concrete, immediate action.
Investing in land restoration secures food production; combats poverty; reduces risks of unwanted migration and insecurity.
Investing in ecosystem restoration is securing sustainable economic recovery, as at least 40% of the global GDP depends on nature.
Land restoration is not divisive. It can unite us. Rich and poor. North and South. Governments and Civil Society. Public and Private Sector.
Our youth and women are at the front lines of action.
We ought to work together: reconnecting people and nature through a high-level ambition on land stewardship.
For the sake of the planet. For our own sake.
We have a window of opportunity to champion a new restoration narrative and bring back nature into balance for all.
Both now and for the generations to come.
That’s Making Peace with Nature.