Colleagues and scientists,
Ladies and gentlemen,
AKWABA! I am delighted that you can all be here to attend, in person, the 15th session of the Committee on Science and Technology. I would like to give a special thank you to Côte d’Ivoire for their generosity in hosting us in this beautiful city of Abidjan.
I would like to congratulate the Chair of the Committee on Science and Technology, vice Chairs of the Committee, as well as the co-chair of the Science Policy Interface (SPI) and all others who serve on the SPI, for your commitment and dedication.
I commend you for your perseverance in working to ensure a scientific foundation for policy development, even in the face of countless challenges you have faced in the last two years, also due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chair, delegates and colleagues,
The Hausa, one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa, have a proverb that says “He who takes care of trees will not suffer from hunger”. This proverb is explanatory of an enduring culture that has a deep respect for nature, extensive knowledge rooted in the wisdom of its ancestors, that is applied in land management practices.
The theme of this COP - ‘Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity', is a call for action to ensure land, the lifeline on this planet, continues to benefit present and future generations.
This call for action is also a response to alarms sounded by the global scientific community which make it very clear: there is no more time to waste.
The recently released second edition of the Global Land Outlook confirms this urgency, providing an overview of the unprecedented magnitude of land degradation, the negative global trends, and the projected consequences of 3 different scenarios:
1) More than 70% of land surface have been transformed from their natural state, and as much as 40% of that land is no longer productive;
2) This directly affects half of humanity and threatens half of global GDP – a staggering US$44 trillion in total;
3) If business as usual continues through 2050, additional degradation of an area almost the size of South America will happen;
However, the Global Land Outlook 2 also points to measures for implementing land restoration efforts that can counteract these trends.
The GLO2 scenarios demonstrate that when restoration activities are increased by the conservation of natural areas, we can move from no net loss by 2030 to a clear net positive trend thereafter.
And if we optimize what we do and where we do it, we can simultaneously address the land dimensions of water scarcity, biodiversity loss and climate change. All while helping bridge the growing food gap, bringing vitality to places where economic growth and stability are most needed.
Chair, delegates, and colleagues,
As we know, science in sustainable development has at least three roles to play: 1) providing an essential evidence base for what has happened,
- informing decision-makers on pathways forward, and
- communicating to the public, so as to enable actions.
In the past two days, we have seen an impressive commitment by Heads of State and Government, Ministers, and other senior high-level delegates. The world is becoming aware of unhealthy land: we are gaining momentum and this opportunity must be seized: to advance policy which will
- support restoration of land as a continuum ranging from conservation, sustainable use through to ecological rehabilitation to restoration, and
- enhance the resilience of ecosystems and communities to the increasing risk of disasters and diseases, especially catastrophic impacts of drought exacerbated by climate change and unsustainable land management.
Today, we are gathering as the scientific subsidiary body of the Convention to continue our journey towards a consensus on scientific evidence-based policy-oriented recommendations to enable actions to achieve this shared political commitment and vision.
The Fifteenth Session of the Committee on Science and Technology in 2022 will be of critical significance for a number of reasons.
CST15 coincides with the UN General Assembly’s International Year of Basic Science for Sustainable Development, and the consensus that we need more basic sciences to achieve Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Science is not only advancing our understanding of nature but also advancing the ways and means we observe and communicate with science.
Particular relevance should be given to the outcomes of the SPI scientific assessments, notably on:
- the role of integrated land use planning & integrated landscape management in the achievement of Land Degradation Neutrality,
- the approaches on assessment and monitoring of resilience of ecosystems and communities to drought at multiple scales,
- comprehensive analysis on the two IPCC reports.
We also expect the CST to consider the SPI proposals for its future work programme for 2022-2023 including assessments on sustainable land use systems and historical regional and global aridity trends and future projections. We look forward to the CST 15’s consideration of the main recommendations.
As the Chinese philosopher Wang Yangming said over 400 years ago, it is essential to ensure “the integrity of knowledge and action, where knowledge is the start of action, and action is the outcome of knowledge.”
As you work to build consensus, we look forward to a CST 15 actionable policy recommendations, where scientific knowledge is the start of the critical actions needed to ensure land can deliver on its full potential in accelerating all of the Sustainable Development Goals.
I wish you success.