Bureau members, distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Permítame trasladar mis sinceras felicitaciones a su Excelencia el Embajador Carlos Amorin, Representante Permanente de Uruguay ante las Naciones Unidas y Presidente de la Segunda Comisión de la Asamblea General. I also congratulate your fellow Bureau members.
We will spare no efforts to support your work.
Let me also salute the delegations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mongolia and Uzbekistan. Saudi Arabia will host UNCCD COP 16 in Riyadh in December 2024, Mongolia COP 17 in 2026. Uzbekistan is hosting next month the 21st session of the Committee for the Review of the implementation of the Convention in Samarkand. I wish to express my gratitude and appreciation to these countries which are playing a leadership role in the UNCCD processes and implementation.
Three weeks ago, the UN Secretary-General drew the world leaders’ attention to the fact that only 15 per cent of the SDG targets are on track and many are, on the contrary, going in reverse. The Secretary-General sounded alarm bells warning that instead of leaving no one behind, we risked leaving the SDGs behind.
And this is the case for land and its SDG 15.3, in the 2023 report, the findings are worrisome:
“Between 2015 and 2019, the world lost at least 100 million hectares of healthy and productive land every year, affecting food and water security globally. "
Worldwide, poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, and conflicts are indeed increasing. And we can see a correlation where globally the poorest and the hungriest are found in areas affected by land degradation, desertification, and drought, and the Sahel and the Dry Corridor in Central America, to name few, are clear examples of this reality.
These intertwined crises of nature-climate-land degradation and conflicts require the implementation of solutions that generate multiple benefits and the mobilization of technical and economic resources at an unprecedented scale.
Investing in land restoration and drought resilience are win-win and cost- effective solutions with multiple benefits for a safe and sustainable future. Land restoration and drought resilience are critical to guarantee water and food security, livelihoods, to reduce irregular migration of people and conflicts over resource scarcity. These solutions also constitute building blocks to achieve climate and biodiversity goals.
Within this framework let me now proceed to the introduction of the Report of the Secretary-General contained in document A/78/209, section II.
The report suggests some recommendations that we hope would feature the UNCCD resolution that you will negotiate in these coming days.
Since this report has been before you for quite some time, I will not go into its details.
Regarding the outcome of COP 15, the Secretariat is working with the country Parties to support the implementation of the COP decisions adopted in Abidjan.
In the context of achieving land degradation neutrality, we noted some important political signals. For instance, in 2020 in Riyadh, the G20 Group declared their ambition to reduce 50 per cent of the world’s degraded land by 2040. This declaration and the launch of the G20 Global Land Initiative are contributing to consolidating a land restoration movement. Over the past two years, the presidencies of G20 have included land restoration as an important political priority within their communique, and have promoted the restoration of peatlands and mangroves, as well as land affected by mining and forest fires.
LDN is becoming an important vehicle to achieve the SDGs:
- 130 countries are currently involved in the process for setting land degradation neutrality targets, and
- a number of flagship initiatives on land restoration are being promoted globally: such as Great Green Wall in the Sahel and in the SADC region, the Dry Corridor, the Middle East Green Initiative. We need to continue enhancing collaboration and cooperation to accelerate action on the ground.
In terms of outreach activities, the highlight has been the observance of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on June 17, celebrated in the General Assembly Hall. That day a global campaign under the theme “Her Land. Her Rights” was launched to advocate for women and girls’ access to land. Several global leaders, UN agencies and partners participated in the event and are part of this global campaign that recognizes that land restoration, conservation and sustainable management can be accelerated if we address land tenure and gender issues in an integrated manner.
On the drought front, we are moving forward.
We see an appetite from the international community to operate a paradigm shift in drought management – from reactive to proactive action that better prepares countries and communities for future droughts, but more information sharing, resources, and political will is needed. It is in this context that the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) was established to generate more political momentum for this agenda and to accelerate action. I invite the General Assembly to encourage its members to join this coalition.
Regarding the implementation of the COP 15 decision, the Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought has been analyzing how to strengthen drought management system within the convention. Its members are currently discussing policy options to be considered by COP 16.
The next COP which will be held in December 2024 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia aspires to be a moonshot moment for the land and drought resilience agenda. We hope to see you there.
Before I close my presentation, allow me to pay a short tribute to my colleague, Mr. Melchiade Bukuru, Director of our Office in New York who is about to retire after over a quarter of a century with you, for his long dedication and commitment to UNCCD processes.