Bonn/Samarkand, 10 October 2023 – Today the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) entered into a landmark agreement with the government of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Host Country Agreement marks the culminating chapter in the preparations for the upcoming 21st session of the UNCCD Committee on the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC21), to be held from 13-17 November 2023 in Samarkand.
For the first time since its inception, UNCCD is convening one of its most important meetings in the heart of Central Asia. The highly anticipated CRIC21 will serve as a global platform for cutting-edge insights into land degradation and drought while assessing the progress the countries are making in restoring productive land.
Welcoming the UNCCD delegation to the historic crossroads of culture and civilization in the city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan's Minister of Ecology, Aziz Abdukhakimov emphasized the upcoming UN conference's role in bolstering global partnerships and environmental innovation. Among the inspiring examples of the successful project in land restoration he shared is the ongoing tree-planting efforts on 2 million hectares to combat the Aral Sea environmental crisis.
UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw noted that CRIC21 meets at a time of increasing environmental turbulence: cataclysmic heatwaves in Europe and North America, devastating droughts in the Horn of Africa, torrential monsoons and cyclones across Asia. The significance of land degradation as both a contributor to and a consequence of these phenomena cannot be overstated.
Recent UN data paints a sobering picture, demonstrating that 420 million hectares of fertile and productive land between have been degraded between 2015 and 2019 – an area exceeding the combined landscapes of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
CRIC21 – a global symposium of delegates from 196 nations and the European Union, leaders of the civil society, academia, and international organizations – will delve into progress on the Convention's strategic objectives. These range from sustainable land management and drought resilience to ensuring fair land rights for women and tackling the sand and dust storms and wildfires exacerbated by the climate change and environmental degradation.
The UNCCD secretariat wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the Republic of Uzbekistan for graciously assuming the role of the host for this pivotal event. Like an intricate carpet weaved by expert hands unfurls to reveal its detailed patterns, CRIC21 will roll out at the Silk Road Samarkand Congress Centre in Uzbekistan this November.