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Statement by the UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw: Land sustains life on the planet. Land provides us with food, clean water, and energy. Healthy land is the basis for our own health. Yet, one in five hectares of land is no longer usable. Land degradation is affecting 40% of the world’s population and costing more than 10% of the annual global GDP. As I speak, at least one million people are facing starvation because of drought. At least 24 countries are hit by drought in 2021 only. From 1998 to 2017, droughts have affected at least 1.5 billion people, and led to economic losses of USD 124 billion across the globe. Land-based solutions provide us with an opportunity to recover better. Build a more inclusive and sustainable world. Using the Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement as our blueprint. Land restoration has co-benefits with all Sustainable Development Goals and must be at the centre of our efforts, providing cost-effective solutions for green recovery at scale. Today’s Dialogue has been a pivotal moment. Our next steps should take us to the right direction. From what we heard today from Member States, from the UN leadership and various other stakeholders, we are in a position to capture key points expressed and make the following call: First, building ambition on land stewardship among different stakeholders as we move into the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration. I believe the general thread from this UNGA Dialogue supports multiple regional large-scale restoration programmes. The Dialogue underscores the need to adapt our production and consumption patterns if we are to insulate our economies and our societies from further catastrophic degradation of our natural capital. The Dialogue comforts the G20 Global Initiative to reduce degraded land by 50 percent by 2040. And points to the direction of the recent G7 Summit. Second, investing in land-based solutions to sustain COVID-19 recovery efforts, especially in rural economies, as they are win-wins for stimulus investment. Land restoration is low tech, democratic, accessible to all. Land restoration is one of the cheapest solutions to the climate crisis and is a foundation for a steady post-COVID economic recovery. Third, helping us get the financing right to scale up land restoration and translate those commitments into concrete, immediate action. Investing in land restoration secures food production; combats poverty; reduces risks of unwanted migration and insecurity. Investing in ecosystem restoration is securing sustainable economic recovery, as at least 40% of the global GDP depends on nature. Land restoration is not divisive. It can unite us. Rich and poor. North and South. Governments and Civil Society. Public and Private Sector. Our youth and women are at the front lines of action. We ought to work together: reconnecting people and nature through a high-level ambition on land stewardship. For the sake of the planet. For our own sake. We have a window of opportunity to champion a new restoration narrative and bring back nature into balance for all. Both now and for the generations to come. That’s Making Peace with Nature. Thank you.
January 2021 marked a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, with over two million people dead. Since the new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) emerged on the global stage in early 2020, an historical and unprecedented effort has been deployed to quell this global health crisis. As we settle into a new year with increased optimism following the successful development of vaccines against COVID-19, we are turning our sights toward the future, with critical policy questions in mind.
Awareness that gender biases exist in land‐based activities has grown significantly. Yet, weak legal and social protections for women’s land use continue. This leads to women’s needs, realities and knowledge being overlooked. Although land supports humanity in many ways, progress remains slow in the global efforts to move towards a future where more balanced relations make it possible for women and men to interact with and care for land in equitable and non-hierarchical ways.
Iceland will reach carbon neutrality before the year 2040. This is the ambitious goal that my government set in September 2018 when it introduced a new climate action plan to get us there. We are taking actions that tackle the three major global environmental challenges – on biological diversity, climate change and desertification – simultaneously.
It is my experience that ecological restoration creates jobs, spurs innovation, and offers new opportunities in the green economy. The growing recognition worldwide that there is a connection between healthy robust ecological processes and a healthy robust economy will continue to spur the demand for ecological restoration, which demand businesses are poised to meet
The plight of people migrating in the context of environmental degradation, climate change impacts and natural disasters and the potential governance responses to such challenges have received a lot of attention in recent years. Therefore, the finalization of the text of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCN) in July 2018 represents an important milestone for many of the policymakers and practitioners working on environmental migration matters.