Adaptation potential of landscape restoration captures attention at the IWG Drought meeting in Yerevan
31 March 2023
As one of the pilot countries to set up the land restoration targets under the UNCCD Land Degradation Neutrality target-setting programme, Armenia has been strategically placed to welcome the members of the UNCCD International Working Group on Drought (IWG) to share national successes in harnessing the adaptation potential of restored natural landscapes.
In the words of the UNCCD COP15 President Alain Richard Donwahi, in the challenging times of uncertainty, geopolitical tensions and conflict, the meeting of IWG on Drought demonstrates that the coming-together of countries to protect the environment has the power to eclipse national interests and conflicting agendas to improve lives.
One of the least forested countries in the Caucasus Region, with just over ten per cent of forest cover still intact, Armenia is stongly motivated to invest major efforts in projects such as the restoration on natural and agricultural landscapes around the closed stone mines in Artik. The IWG members who gathered in Yerevan earlier this month had an opportunity to meet the activists from the local youth eco-club who presented the positive impact of the project for local communities.
Restoring land cover, reinforcing river slopes and planting pioneer tree species on the site of the abandoned stone quarry created a natural barrier against weather extremes, providing residents with a park and a recreation area, and introducing new habitats for a more diverse flora and fauna. Over the course of the project, water pipelines have also been restored and an automated early warning system installed at a local weather station to improve protection against environmental hazards. The total number of beneficiaries of the project is estimated at over 15 000 people, 60 per cent of whom are women.
While thanking the government Armenia for hosting the IWG meeting, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw called the attention of participants to the importance of united efforts and a strong political commitment to increase the resilience of nations and communities to extreme weather events, reduce human suffering and promote sustainable development.
The IWG on Drought was established by the UNCCD COP 15 to identify and evaluate the full spectrum of options, including global policy instruments, regional policy frameworks and national plans to effectively manage drought under the Convention and support a shift from reactive to proactive drought management.
In his remarks the Minister of Environment of the Republic of Armenia Hakob Simidyan stressed that the problem of combating land degradation has become of strategic importance to the country. With about 70 per cent of the territory affected by desertification, and 30 per cent severely degraded, mitigating and preventing the effects of drought becomes all-important for the stable and sustainable national development.
The attendees also received a training in skill development for multilateral negotiations, delivered in English and Russian, since many participants came from the Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus region. The acquired skill set will serve as an important asset for national delegates at the upcoming UNCCD CRIC21 in October 2023 and the COP16 in 2024.
The fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) took place from 9 to 20 May 2022 in Abidjan, Côte…