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Some international agreements emerge quickly. But the birth of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was a long tortuous journey. In particular, it was undermined by the perception that it was a development Convention. Yet the evolution of its sister Rio Conventions on Climate Change and on Biological Diversity shows that a purist approach to environmental conservation is at best misguided, and at worst dangerous.
Brazil has committed US$100 million dollars raised from domestic environmental fines to finance activities to reverse land degradation in an initiative known as the URAD model that combines social inclusion, local development and environmental sustainability. The results are amazing, with activities being completed well ahead of schedule and behaviour change in the communities evident long before reaping the expected long-term fruits.