Distinguished representatives from the civil society and international organisations,
I welcome you all to this important session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention.
Leaning on an idea that the Secretary-General expressed in his recent speech to the General Assembly, I would like to remind everybody who has taken the time and made the effort to join us here in this beautiful country of Côte d’Ivoire, that:
we come together at COP or any its subsidiary bodies on behalf of the people of this planet. Citing the charter of the United Nations, the Secretary-General reminded us that all our efforts, our activities and aspirations should be geared towards improving peoples’ lives, enhancing their opportunities for financial growth, but also improving their socio-economic situations at home.
The road to this meeting has been long and sometimes bumpy, but together you have laid a solid foundation for our work. The 19th intersessional session of the CRIC, convened in March 2021, had to take place virtually due to the pandemic. Despite the challenges of meeting and exchanging ideas and knowledge online, you, the Parties, expressed appreciation for the fact that CRIC 19 enabled you to come together and prepare substantively for COP.
I would like, again, to thank Mr. Andrew Bishop, CRIC Chair for his leadership and the excellent job done at CRIC 19. I would also like to thank the rapporteur of the CRIC, Mr. Hussein Nasrallah, for the excellent job in summarizing the debates which fed into the final report of CRIC 19, and which will be discussed during this session.
Mr. Chair, distinguished delegates,
Please allow me to briefly highlight the substantive agenda items before us today and in the coming days. We have a lot to cover to provide targeted recommendations to the COP.
During this session, you will have the opportunity a to review information on the SDG process and how it links to the implementation of our Convention. We must be proud of that and be proud to have succeeded in directly linking our work with that of the SDG process through the land degradation neutrality target setting programme and national reporting.
As of today, a total of 129 countries have committed to set land degradation neutrality targets, 106 of which have successfully completed this voluntary process. In 2019, an analysis of national reports submitted to the UNCCD conservatively estimated that on average 20% of the global land area is degraded to some extent; this is an area nearly the size of Africa. The Global Land Outlook, our flagship report which was launched just a couple of weeks ago, has confirmed that of the 70% of all land on Earth altered by humanity, 20 to 40% of it is degraded. This is daunting.
It is thanks to your contribution that SDG indicator 15.3.1 “the proportion of land that is degraded over total land area” was upgraded to the tier 1 level in November 2019. This means that there is confidence in the credibility of the data you provided for this indicator. This is a tremendous success! Without your input, your data or the submission of your reports, this would have not been possible.
I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for this and encourage you to contribute to the continuous success of this process by submitting updated information on this indicator throughout the 2022 reporting process.
Moving forward in the agenda, you will be able to share experiences and knowledge about capacity building through a panel discussion which will help you identify how to best implement UNCCD’s mandate.
During this session, you will also have an opportunity to continue discussing financial issues and review information provided by both the Global Environment Facility and the Global Mechanism on funding opportunities available to Parties for an effective implementation of the Convention.
At the beginning of April, 29 countries agreed to pledge the record support of US 5.25 billion dollars for the GEF-8 replenishment period, a nearly 30 percent increase in funding compared to the previous period. The increase in GEF resources comes at a critical moment as many countries around the world are facing multiple challenges – from drought to conflicts, to the ongoing pandemic, all of which could turn policy attention away from sustainable development and land restoration as a vehicle to deliver multiple benefits.
With the 2022 reporting process currently ongoing, the issue of national reporting is also high on the agenda of this session. By combining cutting-edge geospatial information, technology and services, our new reporting platform, PRAIS 4, sets the foundations for future innovation in reporting and, more broadly, for a UNCCD data driven transformation in line with the Secretary-General’s Data Strategy. The use of Earth Observation data and tools in support of decision-making and monitoring at the national and global level will not only allow the Convention to continue contributing to the SDG reporting and review process, but it will also aid prioritization of interventions, increase visibility and transparency of progress in the implementation of the Convention, and enhance our credibility at the international level.
Last but not least, you will jump start the discussion on the multi-year work plan for the next 4 years which will be taken up by the budget contact group later in this COP
Indeed important agenda items that will lead us to take decisions that should prioritize people and ecosystems. The CRIC is central to this important process and I do hope you will be able to seize this opportunity in this beautiful city of Abidjan to do exactly that.
Personally, it fills me with pride to see this plenary full of people willing to discuss these important issues, to reach a common approach of how we want to create a better place for people to live and in a sustainable and productive manner. I look forward to your lively debates and fruitful exchanges.