The UNCCD and UNFCCC country Parties, civil society, partners got together to reflect on how to connect the dots between the challenging agendas on climate and land.
Working lunch, “Why land degradation neutrality matters for climate?” was held on 16 May in Bonn. The event was organized by the UNCCD, the UNFCCC and the Government of the Republic of Korea. The panelists were representatives from Dominican Republic, Ghana and Philippines, which are steadily advancing in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the achievement of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN). The discussion focused on how commitments, policies and implementation under the different frameworks of action of the 3 Rio Conventions can programmatically deliver breaking the silos and fragmented landscape of governance and investments in the context of the SDGs.
The conversation particularly focused on the role of LDN as a powerful tool to deliver multiple benefits, including climate change. “The sustainable management of land and its rehabilitation are key factors for closing the emissions gap and staying within the agreed temperature limit of the Paris Agreement”, stressed Mr. Keum Chang Rok, Consul General of the Korean Government.
Mr. Pradeep Monga, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, said the importance of land has gained political recognition over the years as championed by countries like the Republic of Korea and others. By quoting a famous proverb, "where there's a will, there's a way," Mr. Monga stressed the clear will of all the stakeholders from the outset for achieving the land degradation neutrality. He further said that now we have found the way to do this effectively and deliver on multiple benefits. To date, 108 countries have committed to translate the global LDN target into country specific actions.
A keynote speaker Mr. Kihyun Kim from the Korea Forest Service showcased the success story of forest restoration and the commitment of the Republic of Korea to LDN target setting and implementation through the Changwon Initiative. The Changwon Initiative launched at the UNCCD COP 10 has been essential in defining and testing the LDN concept.
Mr. Asher Nkegbe, from Ghana emphasized that even though agendas such as climate change, reduction of emissions and LDN are “conceptual frameworks” for global action, at local level food security; jobs and livelihoods is what matters. Those are the tangible benefits where the synergies between climate and land action need to deliver effectively. “The economic argument of land degradation is what mobilizes national politicians”, stressed Mr. Nkegbe.
Mr. Nick Nuttall, Coordinator of Communications and Outreach of the UNFCCC, highlighted that important global transformations have taken place in the last decades such as the penetration of renewable energy. However, more action is still needed in transforming the way we interact with ecosystems at the scale and level required. “The Paris Agreement lays out a long-term destination, which is climate neutrality, an aim which cannot be achieved without also attaining LDN”, said Mr. Nuttall.
Ms. Dominga Polanco and Mr. Samuel Contreras from Dominican Republic and the Philippines coincided in the strong interlinkages between their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) targets and land, and how LDN represents one of the most cost efficient pathways to deliver on their NDCs and multiple SDGs. “Sustainable land management to reduce and minimize land degradation is strongly linked to the climate change adaptation and reducing GHG emissions”, stressed Mr. Samuel M. Contreras from the Philippines.
The scale of the challenge doesn’t allow us to keep working on silos. Mr. Markus Repnik, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD concluded the event, emphasizing that it doesn’t matter whether projects are labeled as climate change or LDN - what matters are the outcomes. It is all about synergies and large-scale transformative projects that bundle resources from different actors. We live in a complex and fragmented development agenda. “We need to connect the dots one by one,” as Mr. Repnik concluded.