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Caux, Switzerland – This year, the main focus of Caux Dialogue on Land and Security (CDLS) has been on using land restoration for conflict resolution, with the UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary Mr. Pradeep Monga moderating round table discussions on migration and financing for ecosystem restoration projects. Mr Monga reminded the participants that the land agenda lies at the core of the world's food, poverty, migration, water, climate, biodiversity and security crises, creating an urgent need for investing in land restoration as a key instrument for conflict resolution and peace building. As part of debates on results-based mechanisms that encourage large-scale private sector investments for land rehabilitation initiatives, Mr. Monga briefed the Forum's attendees on the innovative features of the LDN Fund. The participants also addressed the potential of cutting-edge and emerging technologies to unlock private financing, facilitate impact investments and enable participation of land users in land restoration projects. The empowerment of women and education of youth were also identified as essential to the success of land restoration initiatives on the ground. Jobs, livelihoods and value chains for income generation in the context of sustainable landscape management were also highlighted in playing a major role in mitigating the environmentally induced triggers of migration. The participants agreed that there is a need to seek further evidence that will help understand the linkage and mutual impact of land degradation, conflict and migration, including in-depth research on human and societal benefits from the land restoration projects. CDLS is a part of the annual Caux Forum that brings together around 1,500 participants from civil society, government and business to meet in a true diversity of ages, genders, cultures, sectors and beliefs. The Forum encourages individuals, groups and organizations to reflect on their roles, explore their resources and assess their responsibilities as change-makers who can build a just, sustainable and peaceful world. Read more: CDLS 2018 Round Table Declaration Keynote speech by Dr. Pradeep Monga Sustainable land management Land degradation neutratilty Land and gender Land and human security
Ecuadorian Environment Minister Tarsicio Granizo speaks during an interview with IPS in his office in Quito. Credit: Nina Zambrano/IPS Ela Zambrano interviews TARSICIO GRANIZO, Ecuador’s minister of Environment ** En Espangol QUITO, Jul 20 2018 (IPS) - Ecuador has decided to move towards a bioeconomy-based development model, “which must be sustainable,” because otherwise “the remedy could be worse than the disease,” said the country’s Environment Minister Tarsicio Granizo, who is spearheading this innovative approach. In this interview with IPS, Granizo explained that the proposal represents a response to an extractivist model which cannot be followed forever. His ministry is working hand in hand with other ministries, productive sectors and the governments of the 24 provinces of this South American country of 17.7 million people. Ecuador is a megadiverse country, but it is also rich in minerals and fossil fuels. The current model of development is based on its underground riches, but now the aim is to move towards a post-extractivist model, focused on the sustainable use of the country’s biological resources. As a first step, the government is drawing up an inter-ministerial environmental agenda with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to identify the administration’s current environmental actions, in order to design a new cross-cutting strategy. The minister pointed out that it is not yet possible to talk about a “transition” or timeframes because “the new forms of economy are just being thought out.” But he stressed that “the concept of the bioeconomy at the state level is already in place.” IPS: You’re leading what’s called a transition from extractivism and fossil fuels to the bioeconomy. Why? TARSICIO GRANIZO: The bioeconomy is one of the many ways forward for this country which has an economy based on oil and minerals extraction. There may be other ways out, but let’s remember that we are a megadiverse country and that we have to make sustainable use of our megadiversity, with the highest technology. IPS: What is the future for mining and oil in this model? TG: We are talking about a long-term transition, whether we like it or not we have to continue exploiting oil and mining, we still have important resources in both sectors that support the country.IPS: With a time limit for the exploitation of fossil fuels due to climate change… TG: There is a deadline for oil exploitation; and, mining will always be there, but it must be organised. We cannot yet say that we are in a process of transition, we have just started thinking about these new forms of economy that will allow Ecuador to leave behind extractivism one day.IPS: But can you put a timeframe on the goal of implementing the bioeconomy? TG: We cannot… How long will fossil fuels last?IPS: Experts say Ecuador’s fossil fuels could run out in 20 years, including officials from your ministry… TG: Maybe 20 years, but in mining, we’ll have to see how things go for us. Mining revenues have to be greater than the environmental liabilities. In this respect, we cannot yet set timeframes.IPS: What is the bioeconomy model you envision for Ecuador? TG: We are thinking of sustainable bioeconomy as a model for which several elements are necessary: conservation, innovation, investment, and markets.IPS: What comes first? TG: Conservation. Ecuador’s soil is already conserved, through protected areas, protective forests that cover 30 percent of the national territory. Innovation is where we are most concerned, where we still have a long way to go.IPS: How is the sustainable use of megadiversity included? TG: Of course, not everything bio is necessarily sustainable, because I can replace oil with another product and run out of that product. The sustainable bioeconomy is based on that: the sustainable use of biological resources, and that includes a circular economy in waste management.IPS: You stress the need to move towards a circular economy, one based on produce-consume-recycle rather than produce-consume-throw away… TG: The circular economy is a part of the bioeconomy, for example waste can be a good business and an alternative for those already working as waste pickers. We see examples in many parts of the world where waste management is an option. What arrives at the treatment centres is minimal, everything stays in the factories. Little by little we have to make progress towards that.IPS: They say the bioeconomy will favour the development of the most vulnerable segments of society. Is that true? Why and how? TG: Of course, for example, it is the poor who rummage through and separate the garbage. We need to help them out of poverty and help them become small-scale entrepreneurs and have a better quality of life. We have identified about 500 bio-enterprises; the thing is that most of them are small-scale or pilot projects. We work mainly with the Popular and Solidarity Economy (an economic organisation institutionalised in 2011 in the country, whose members, individuals or groups, are based on cooperation and solidarity).IPS: Is there an example that serves as a letter of introduction to what Ecuador already does in bio-economics? TG: There are projects with guadua bamboo cane to make furniture and laminates. This is a fast-growing, abundant resource in the coastal and Amazon regions, which resprouts easily. It is also very interesting what is happening with vicuña wool in (the province of) Chimborazo. Vicuña wool fetches a very high price on the international market. In this country, Chimborazo is the only place where vicuñas (a South American camelid) are found, and that is why we are in the process of teaching local communities how to shear vicuñas, and to treat and use their wool so that it has added value.IPS: How much does the bioeconomy currently represent in Ecuador, and what share of the country’s GDP is it expected to represent? TG: Currently the bioeconomy represents about 10 percent of the industrial GDP, and we plan to double that in the coming years.IPS: In how long? TG: We are taking a series of measures, we have created the country’s Bioeconomy Network and the 2015-2030 Biodiversity Strategy, we have created an entity with the Private Technical University of Loja to promote bioeconomic initiatives. We are launching the brand BioEcuador.IPS: Have you encountered resistance in the economic and productive sectors? TG: Fortunately, the ministries of production, mining and hydrocarbons, and foreign trade are very well aligned. We have managed to position the bioeconomy as a state commitment also in the productive sectors. We have also talked with the banks to establish soft credit lines with certain benefits to promote the bioeconomy in aspects such as nutraceuticals (‘nutrition’ and ‘pharmaceutical’ – natural foods that provide medical or health benefits). The concept of bioeconomy is already positioned at the state level.IPS: What are the strategies? TG: To use the rich biodiversity that we have in order to provide economic alternatives for the country. In the bioeconomy we do not rule out the improvement of monocultures, for example we have selected five sectors to work in: oil palm farming, shrimp, flowers, cattle and bananas. We want to reach an agreement with these producers so that they do not expand their agricultural frontier, but improve their productivity within their current range. That’s one aspect.IPS: Since the bioeconomy is a long-term project, how can we ensure that future governments maintain this direction and do not change it? TG: As soon as producers see that the bioeconomy is a real alternative, it will not matter which government is in power.IPS: Is this being established at a legislative and policy level? TG: It is included in the Organic Environmental Code and above all in the 2017-2021 National Development Plan. We are working on the development of public policies.IPS: Environmentalists criticise aspects of the bioeconomy, such as the use of biofuels based on monocultures. What is your view on this? TG: Biofuels have their pros and cons. The problem is that land that should be aimed at guaranteeing food sovereignty is allocated to meet transport needs.IPS: So you don’t rule out biofuels? TG: No. I always say that everything can be done in Ecuador as long as it is done where it should be done and is done properly.IPS: Are there other countries in Latin America looking towards the bioeconomy? TG: There was a bioeconomics summit in Germany (in Berlin in April), attended by some Latin American countries. Several are in our line of sustainable bioeconomy. Others see the bioeconomy as the improvement of their monocultures. We don’t rule out that possibility either.IPS: So, Ecuador is betting on different formulas, not only on the bioeconomy? TG: Of course, we can think about the sale of services; in providing banking services to other countries; and, the sustainable bioeconomy. We have to look for alternatives for post-extractivism.IPS: So the bioeconomy is one path, although a privileged one… TG: Yes, but sustainable, it must be sustainable, otherwise the remedy could be worse than the disease. ** This is an independent interview conducted by Inter Press Service as part of a feature stories series commissioned by UNCCD. It was originally published by IPS in English and Spanish on 20 July 2018.
Bogota, Colombia – The UNCCD regional coordination unit for Latin America and the Caribbean (RCU-LAC) participated in the regional workshop organized by FAO Global Soils Partnership on 9 July 2018 to discuss the development of national and regional capacity in organizing soil information for policy making, land use planning and sustainable land management (SLM). The RCU-LAC gave a presentation on the concept of land degradation neutrality (LDN) and the progress of the LDN target setting programme in the region. The presentation highlighted the importance of land-based indicators, especially the SOC stocks, in monitoring progress towards achieving LDN. Participants agreed that this data should also be shared through the information system of soil for Latin America and the Caribbean (SISLAC). Specific aspects of organizing, updating and utilizing SISLAC data on soils have also been discussed. SISLAC was created by FAO in 2012 to utilize data provided by countries for soil mapping and enable LAC to produce standardized soil organic carbon maps by providing technical support and training. Read more: Workshop summary (in Spanish) Pivotal soil carbon UNCCD reporting process More photos from the workshop
Konya/Eregli/Mersin, Turkey – An international training on combating desertification and soil erosion for Central Asian and Balkan countries took place on 11-16 July, 2018, bringing together experts and participants from various institutions, organizations and NGOs. Workshop sessions focused on approaches to combating land degradation and deforestation, introducing participants to forest fire prevention measures, seedling production techniques for nurseries, income generating approaches to afforestation and methods for increasing soil organic carbon. During field practices, the participants were able to examine successful techniques in arid-land forestry along with fire extinguishing equipment and methods. On-site examination of sand dune movement prevention measures introduced participants to plant species used in the stabilization of sand dune movements. Located in dry and semi-arid climates, Turkey has achieved significant success in sustainable land management to fight drought, desertification and land degradation, sharing its expertise in ecosystem rehabilitation with other countries through training programs supported by the Ankara Initiative.
New York, United States – During the High Level Political Forum on sustainable development, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the UNCCD and the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to highlight the crucial role of affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for sound land management and inclusive economic growth. The signatories declared their intention to undertake the following initiatives: Spearhead transformative projects and programmes linking sustainable land management with solar energy development that would help achieve specific social, economic and environmental outcomes; Promote innovative financial mechanisms such as the LDN Fund that bring together private sector investors and firms to support investments to address land degradation and promote solar energy to ensure sustainable development; Work with other partners in bringing together public and private investments and partnerships to scale up solar energy development and contribute to address land degradation and desertification. The ISA is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization that unites more than 120 countries to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. ISA’s ambitious goals include facilitating infrastructure for implementation of solar projects, making the costs of solar power more affordable for remote and inaccessible communities and mobilizing finance globally for the massive deployment of affordable solar energy.
Beijing, China – Land degradation is a serious threat to the stability of communities and nations, and to peace and security throughout the international community. Land degradation neutrality (LDN), which is SDG Target 15.3 of SDG 15 Life on Land, is both an integrator and an accelerator of the other SDGs. Countries that implement the LDN targets stand the best chance of, at once, achieving the other SGDs and breaking from the past unsustainable development paths. Stressing the need to approach land degradation, climate action and sustainable development holistically. Dr. Pradeep Monga, Deputy Executive Secretary of UNCCD, recently spoke to the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR) about the landscape approaches in agriculture. He emphasized that one of the biggest global challenge today s is to address the economic, social and ecological aspects of land restoration simultaneously, providing sustainable jobs and income generation while protecting ecosystems. Recent INBAR report shows that bamboo planting can provide an attractive option for land restoration, having shown positive environmental and socio-economic effects in several countries. With its long root systems, ability to grow on degraded soils and steep slopes, and extremely fast growth, bamboo can quickly revegetate even the most damaged landscapes – for example, former brickmaking sites in India and degraded mining areas in Ghana. Along with environmental benefits, planting bamboo can benefit local communities by bringing tourists, generating income and creating thousands of jobs. All this makes bamboo planting a strong choice for reaching a range of sustainable development objectives, such as poverty alleviation, climate change mitigation, land restoration, earthquake-resilient construction and low-carbon product creation. Read more: Dr. Monga’s full interview with INBAR Land degradation neutrality Land and climate change Land and SDGs