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Opening remarks by UNCCD Executive Secretary Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw On the occasion of the Virtual meeting of the COP 14 Bureau Wednesday, 30 September 2020 Dear Mr. President, Dear Bureau members, It is a pleasure for me to welcome you once again for a virtual meeting of our Bureau. Few months have elapsed since our last meeting held last 26th of June and, in consultation with the presidency, a new meeting was deemed important to take stock of recent developments, report on key issues and seek your joint wisdom and views on proposed steps forward. In that respect, one of the core questions before us refers to the interim report of the IWG on drought. I know that I am preaching converted when I underline that drought is a slowly creeping phenomenon and thus difficult to detect until impacts emerge. However, flash droughts are also becoming more common marked by sudden onset and rapid intensification of droughts with severe impacts. They present a new challenge for enhancing drought resilience. With climate change, rainfall will become more erratic, with longer and deeper periods of droughts. Drought is no longer limited to dry lands. It is affecting every climate region. Food shortages & price increases may triple by 2040 because of extreme and erratic weather, mainly drought. But this is not a problem for the future. It is a problem for the here and now. Current methods for managing drought are not up to the challenge. Most drought-prone countries are only responding to drought when it has taken its tall. This must change and the UNCCD is focusing on a drought management approach that prioritizes “prevention” over “recovery”. The last three COPs (twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth ) called for increased emphasis on mitigating drought impacts for long term drought resilience. Parties also want to improve partnerships to promote capacity development at the national level. Thanks to the support of the COP Bureau, a highly efficient and well-balanced group of 30 IWG members was established. The IWG’s call for submissions on existing drought policy, coordination & partnerships was met with overwhelming response, as more than seventy countries, regional & international organizations responded to the survey, which laid a unique basis for the work of the group. Given the rescheduling of CRIC19 to next year, your guidance, as process management body, to the IWG would be very important to further fine tune their work. I am also glad that, the IWG Chair, Dr. Gunilla Björklund and the co-chair, Dr. Gaius Eudoxie, are with us on this call to provide to directly interact with the COP Bureau. I would also like to take this opportunity to brief you on the status of organization of the CRIC and seek your views on possible options for a viable and reliable way forward. In that respect a short information note was issued under agenda item 3 before you that recapitulates the status of the process, as it stands today. In accordance with the conclusions reached at our last bureau meeting, the secretariat has been thoroughly planning for a face-to-face meeting in Bonn. Accordingly, the identification of the venue and the ensuing logistical requirements have been secured. A contract will also be signed with the service provider at the World Conference Center Bonn, including a cancelation clause. However, as many variables remain fluid in terms of the pandemic evolution, including numerous and regular adjustment to public health policies around the world, the secretariat Is also planning for viable options in terms of virtual meeting scenarios. Should evolving travel restrictions not allow Parties to attend in-person the conference, the possibility of organizing, on an exceptional basis, an online CRIC19 is therefore currently explored by the UNCCD secretariat in consultation with UNOG as service provider. Accordingly, the information note under agenda item III before you addresses some of the critical issues at stake, when envisaging the organization of a virtual CRIC19 meeting and we, as secretariat, are looking forward to your feedback and/or further proposals in that respect. Thank you, Mr. President.
The UNCCD secretariat met the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on 29 September to advance the partnership on Land-Solar Plus model from technological assistance to regional pilot projects, following the recent event “Land-Solar Plus: Combining Solar-powered Land Degradation Neutrality and Food, Water, Energy Security and Ecosystem Services." Both sides acknowledged the great potential to integrate the Land-Solar Plus model in poverty alleviation, sustainable livelihood and value chain development, as well as an ecological stewardship model to engage both land and energy stakeholders. Next, the focal points from UNCCD Science, Technology and Innovation team and Energy Division of ADB together with specialists on land and renewable energy from Tsinghua University will map key steps for cooperation in knowledge sharing and technical assistance, including an innovation competition.
The text of the declaration has been shaped through extensive negotiations. Every participating group, UN organization, programme, CSO and other stakeholders wanted their concerns reflected in this milestone document while ensuring that it remains concise and focused. UNCCD NYLO worked with the Group of Friends on DLDD to ensure that desertification and drought are highlighted among the environmental threats and climate-related challenges that require immediate action for the protection of our planet. The declaration acknowledges the urgent need to take transformative measures for safeguarding biodiversity and addressing climate change to build back better and greener. It is also a political blueprint that expresses collective belief in multilateralism at a time of the global pandemic crisis. The declaration can be accessed through the following link: http://bit.ly/UN75declaration
The two-day stakeholders' virtual meeting on “Land-Solar Plus” : Integrated solution combining solar-powered Land Degradation Neutrality for food, water and energy security, and ecosystem services organized by UNCCD Secretariat took place on 16 - 17 September 2020 in collaboration with Tsinghua University, China.