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UNCCD COP15 Great Green Wall Head of States Meeting: statement by Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw

Excellencies, The Great Green Wall is an historic opportunity. An opportunity for the Sahel - and for each of the GGW states - to deliver something truly remarkable. A renaissance for land and the natural world.  And - just as important - true resilience and a renaissance for communities on the frontline of climate change and poverty. The GGW is an inspiration and a beacon of hope for humanity worldwide. At a time when people need inspiration and hope.  For that Excellencies, you are to be congratulated. However, projects of this ambition and magnitude do not materialize on inspiration and hope alone. They need financial support.  Good governance.  And coordinated action. The pledges made at the One Planet Summit in January 2021 totaled USD19 billion for the period until 2025.  So, while progress is there, we cannot congratulate ourselves. Hope is not yet turning into action at the scale or pace you aspire to.  Because collectively, we are struggling to turn those pledges into projects and investments.  Understandably, this is leading to frustrations. There are, indeed, lots of bottlenecks. To my mind though, two critical bottlenecks have emerged. Coordination at national level. The complexity of accessing financing – the donor system. Firstly, I am convinced genuine national ownership – led by you, your Excellencies - and a national coalition for action would make progress happen faster.  In each country, the GGW is a massive undertaking.  With the best will in the world, neither the national Agency of the GGW, as currently set up, nor a single line ministry can make all the necessary wheels turn.  At national level, a more joined-up “all of government” response is needed.  The Ministry of Planning and Development or Treasury have an important role to play.  Along with the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture, Infrastructure or Energy as technical focal points. Concerned local authorities, the private sector, civil society and research should be fully engaged.  But government – at all levels – can take steps to assume its responsibilities more effectively.  In the case of Senegal, we noted the creation of Presidential Council, led by his Excellency President Macky Sall, that is guiding and accelerating this work in Senegal.  Each country will need to establish their own institutional framework. We would however suggest you consider setting up a political oversight, close to you.   Secondly though, we would all acknowledge that the current system for accessing the pledged financing is complex and cumbersome at best. International partners are better coordinated than ever around a common results framework.  But to access the financing, currently, your officials must navigate the different processes and timelines of the ten international partners who have committed to support you.  Accessing much of the funds will take a great deal of upfront investment of staff resources and a considerable time.  With your bold and ambitious timeline, this business-as-usual approach will not work. As Heads of State and Government, you might consider requesting the simplification and streamlining of the way financing is channeled to you – potentially through a common window, joint assessment or more co-funding of projects. You may want to task your Ministries in charge of Planning or Economy to lead the Programmatic Coordination with donors. We may need to follow adequate, perhaps specific procedures. It is certainly recommended that each Government set up a robust programmatic team to unlock the financing.      Excellencies, a Sahelian renaissance awaits.  With the restoration of land and nature and the right investments for a resilient and vibrant future, we can capitalize on the inspiration and hope and the unique opportunity that the GGW offers.  Thank you.

UNCCD COP15 Great Green Wall Head of States Meeting: statement by Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw
UNCCD COP15 Gender Caucus statement by Ibrahim Thiaw

In Pursuit of Gender Equality for Strong Land Stewardship S.E. Mme Dominique Ouattara, Première Dame de Côte d’Ivoire; merci de votre leadership et votre intérêt manifeste à ce Caucus Genre. S.E Dr Mariam Mint Mohamed Vadel Ould Dah, Première Dame de Mauritanie. Merci madame, d’être venue, particulièrement, pour cet événement,   S.E Mr Abdulla Shahid, President de l’Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies. Merci aussi, monsieur le Président, d’avoir tenu à participer à cet événement.      S.E. Mme Amina Mohamed, Vice-Secrétaire Générale des Nations-Unies. Merci madame, pour votre vision et votre courage.               Je salue également tous mes collègues ici présents: Chefs d’Agence des Nations-Unies et représentants d’Organisations Internationales. Distingués invités, Mesdames et messieurs, J’éprouve un immense plaisir à vous souhaiter la cordiale bienvenue à cet événement de haut-niveau sur le genre, organisé au premier jour de la Conférence des Parties de la Convention des Nations Unies sur la Lutte contre la Désertification (UNCCD). Je savoure d’autant plus ce plaisir que nous sommes de nouveau en mesure de nous retrouver dans cette salle, après une longue et difficile période de restrictions sanitaires. Permettez-moi avant tout, d’exprimer toute ma gratitude à nos généreux hôtes à savoir le peuple et le Gouvernement de Côte d’Ivoire. Nos remerciements s’adressent en particulier à vous, madame la Première Dame, Dominique Ouattara. L’enthousiasme avec lequel vous présidez à cet événement et votre soutien sans faille, sont notés avec une grande satisfaction. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, The negotiations on land degradation and drought at this COP are the most important in the UNCCD’s history and they can only succeed if they are built on balanced foundations, which must include gender equality. The conclusions of the study we’re presenting today are sobering. The study demonstrates that women and girls are particularly vulnerable to impacts of land degradation and droughts.    For example, when drought hits a region, food and water become naturally scarce. This affects the way food is distributed within a family. Women, the study found, tend to eat smaller portions or skip meals. They give priority to members of their family, starting with young children.  In least developed countries, agriculture is the main livelihood for nearly 80% of employed women. Yet, more often than not, they do not own the land – only 23% in Central Asia and the Caucasus, and just 4% in the Middle East and North Africa. Think about it: if we bring 100 people from that region with land titles to this room, only 4 of them will be women. And limited rights mean limited access to loans, credits, services and training, stacking the odds against the very people working the land and perpetuating poverty. Nothing stable can be built  with half the foundation missing, so there will be no sustainable development if half of humanity and half of our producers are left on the sidelines. This vicious cycle of poverty must be turned into a virtuous one of prosperity by unleashing the transformative power of women and girls to heal land and soil. They are achieving many of the land restoration successes, often with little support or recognition. In West Africa for example, women are involved in major land restoration initiatives such as the Great Green Wall.   In the Middle East and North Africa, they undertake land conservation and restoration initiatives that bring food security. Where water is scarce, they find innovative or traditional solutions like as fog harvesting, which we have seen in Morocco. Examples are plentiful from around the world where women and girl exercise their leadership on land restoration. Unnoticed and unpaid. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Colleagues, Now is the time for action with inclusion and solidarity. To halt climate change and reverse biodiversity loss and land degradation we cannot ignore half of the population. This is a decisive decade, where we need to: ·      Change our mindsets ·      Invest heavily in education, training and access to sustainable technologies for millions of women and girls ·      Facilitate the inclusion of women into the financial system ·      Dismantle all barriers and eliminate laws and practices that prevent women and girls from accessing and using land Our UNCCD Convention is about the people and the planet. Healthy land for healthy people and healthy economies. All people. Not just half of them. With that in mind, I invite you to join « The Abidjan Declaration on Achieving Gender Equality for Successful Land Restoration". I also invite you to commit and act to improve the lives and dignity of women and girls facing the formidable daily challenges of drought, land degradation and desertification. Thank you.

UNCCD COP15 Gender Caucus statement by Ibrahim Thiaw
UNCCD COP15 welcome statement by the Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw

Mesdames, messieurs, Bienvenue à la COP15 ! Avec la permission du Président Ouattara, je vous dis AKWABA. Bienvenue à Abidjan. De San Pedro à Korogho, de Man à Boundoukou, de Aboisso à Odienne : la Côte d’Ivoire dispose de ce magnétisme extraordinaire, cette hospitalité exceptionnelle qui explique pourquoi ce pays attire autant de talents et de touristes. AKWABA, au pays de la plus grande basilique au monde. Au pays des mystérieux ponts de liane dont on attribue la construction aux génies de la forêt. AKWABA, au pays des diversités culturelle et cultuelle, dans l’unicité. Au pays de l’inclusion dont on admire la tolérance et le vivre-ensemble, ancrés dans la culture de la parenté à plaisanterie. Peu importe qu’on l’appella Tu-pké, Sanakouya ou Rakiré, cette tradition, remontant pourtant à 1235, décrispe les tensions entre communautés et caractérise la tolérance, la diplomatie, et la réconciliation sociale. Monsieur le Président, Majesté, Excellences, Mesdames et messieurs, Nous sommes réunis dans le cadre de la Convention des Nations Unies sur la Lutte contre la Désertification, un traité universel, fort de 197 Parties. Au cœur des préoccupations de cet Accord de la génération de Rio, se posent les problématiques de la sécheresse et de la dégradation des terres. Les cycles de sécheresse sont observés depuis des siècles. Cependant, les fréquence et intensité notées ces dernières années ont une corrélation désormais avérée avec le changement climatique. La sécheresse a ceci de vicieux qu’elle érode l’économie et désagrège les sociétés. La sécheresse n’est pas seulement un déficit pluviométrique. La sécheresse porte un visage humain affectant les plus vulnérables, y compris les éleveurs, les petits producteurs, les femmes et les enfants. Lorsqu’elle se manifeste sous forme de feux de brousse ou de forêt, la sécheresse laisse des traces indélébiles : la nature est défigurée. Aucune région du monde, aucun pays n’est immunisé contre la sécheresse. Mais tous les pays ne sont pas logés à la même enseigne. On le sait trop bien désormais : lorsque survient une épidémie, les sujets immuno-déficitaires demeurent les plus vulnérables aux virus. Par analogie, les pays les plus démunis sont toujours les plus vulnérables aux sécheresses. Quant à la dégradation des terres, nos études les plus récentes ont révélé qu’un habitant sur deux dans le monde est affecté par la perte de la productivité des terres. Jusqu’à 40% de la superficie du globe connaît une forme de dégradation des milieux terrestres. Les risques économiques sont sévères : jusqu’à la moitié du PIB mondial pourrait être affecté. Au-delà, nos études ont aussi démontré que les pertes de terres fertiles entraînent des conséquences sur la santé humaine. La perte des terres productives amplifient les migrations ; elle provoque pauvreté, troubles sociaux et insécurité. La dégradation des terres émet du carbone, exacerbe le changement climatique et la perte de la biodiversité. Enfin, les pertes de terres productives exacerbent les inégalités : les petits producteurs étant étouffés économiquement et socialement. Les femmes rurales productrices sont généralement reléguées au bout de la chaîne ; elles sont souvent dépossédées des petits lopins de terre où elles étaient confinées. Nos études ont révélé que même en ce 21ème siècle, les femmes sont privées de l’héritage de leur époux décédé dans plus de cent de pays dans le monde. Majesté, Excellences, Il est maintenant établi qu’un leader qui perd ses terres productives est assimilable à un pilote qui connaît une soudaine perte d’altitude, voire une perte de contrôle de son aéronef. C’est à ce titre que nous saluons vivement la présence à cette Conférence, de Chefs d’Etat et de Gouvernement, qui saisissent toute la centralité de ces questions. La gestion des terres concerne autant l’agriculture que l’économie, la sécurité que l’environnement, la diplomatie que l’administration territoriale; autant la forêt que la recherche scientifique ; autant la société civile que les communes rurales. La terre nous nourrit. La terre nous vétit. Elle nous fournit l’eau que nous buvons, autant que l’air que nous respirons. De la santé de nos sols, dépend notre économie ainsi que notre propre santé. Mais il y a espoir. Et vous me permettrez de conclure par ce point. La dégradation des terres n’est pas une fatalité. La réparation est possible. En effet, la restauration des terres dégradées est réalisable à moindre coût. Investir dans la réparation des terres dégradées est donc économiquement rentable ; techniquement faisable ;  socialement souhaitable et bien entendu, écologiquement profitable. Chaque unité monétaire investie dans la restauration des terres peut générer jusqu’à 30 fois sa valeur. Au niveau mondial, jusqu’à 50 points de PIB pourraient ainsi être gagnés d’ici 2050. Pourvu qu’on prenne le virage maintenant. Et de manière décisive. Une sagesse africaine ne dit-elle pas : «quand la tête est là, le genou ne doit pas prétendre porter le chapeau».  Je vous remercie.

UNCCD COP15 welcome statement by the Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw
UNCCD and Côte d'Ivoire sign the COP15 host country agreement

The Government of Côte d'Ivoire and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) jointly signed the Host Country Agreement, the official binding protocol between the organization and the country hosting the 15th Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD (COP15, May 9-20). During the signing, H. E. Mr. Jean Sansan Kambilé, Minister of Justice and Human Rights, on behalf of H. E. Mrs. Kandia Camara, Minister of Foreign Affairs of African Integration and of the Diaspora of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, underlined the geopolitical importance of hosting this event, stressing the economic benefits of restoring land and its benefits to the local population. Therefore, the 15th Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, is particularly relevant on a regional and global scale as it gives the host country the opportunity to set an example for land restoration initiatives across the West Africa region. Highlighting Côte d'Ivoire's leadership, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw, stated that “The Abidjan Legacy Programme is one tangible outcome of UNCCD COP15 that will boost long-term sustainable development across major value chains in Côte d’Ivoire, while protecting and restoring forests and lands and improving communities’ resilience to climate change. Côte d’Ivoire’s leadership in implementing this ambitious and promising programme is a commitment to advancing land restoration. The signing ceremony was also attended by the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, H. E. Mr. Jean-Luc Assi, at the premises of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

UNCCD and Côte d'Ivoire sign the COP15 host country agreement
Leaders’ summit in Côte d’Ivoire kicks off major UN conference on the future of land stewardship

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification convenes the 15th session of its Conference of the Parties in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 9-20 May 2022 Heads of State Summit hosted by President Alassane Ouattara on 9 May will address multiple crises linked to land degradation Countries to decide on future actions to mitigate escalating drought risk 5 May 2022, Abidjan – The 15th session of the Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), opens on Monday, 9 May 2022 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The COP15 theme, ‘Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity', is a call to action to ensure land, which is the lifeline on this planet, will also benefit present and future generations. The Conference will start with a Heads of State summit and high-level segment held back-to-back on 9-10 May to create political momentum and raise ambition in particular in meeting the 2030 global commitments on restoration and robust actions that build the resilience of communities that are vulnerable to drought. Leaders are meeting in Abidjan against the backdrop of a stark warning issued by the UNCCD that up to 40% of all ice-free land is already degraded, with dire consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. The Conference will focus on the restoration of one billion hectares of degraded land between now and 2030, future-proofing land use against the impacts of climate change, and tackling escalating disaster risks such as droughts, sand and dust storms, and wildfires. More than a dozen heads of state and government, ministers and at least 2,000 delegates from 196 countries and the European Union are expected to be at the two-week Conference that ends Friday, 20 May 2022. High-level delegates include: Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte d’Ivoire Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Abdulla Shahid, President of the United Nations General Assembly Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Chief Executive Officer, Global Environment Facility Inger Andersen, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme UNCCD Land Ambassadors Tarja Halonen, Ricky Kej, Byong Hyon Kwon, Baaba Maal, and Inna Modja UNCCD Land Heroes David Chapoloko, Musa Ibrahim, Patricia Kombo and Moses Mulindwa UNCCD COP15 is the first of the three Rio Conventions meetings to be held in 2022, with Biodiversity COP15 and Climate change COP27 convening later on in Kunming, China and Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, respectively. Among the programme highlights: Announcement of the Abidjan Legacy Programme on 9 May by the President of Côte d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara, focusing on job creation and the restoration of degrading land in Côte d’Ivoire; Gender Caucus on 9 May chaired by the First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire Dominique Ouattara, which will include the launch of a new report on the differentiated impacts of desertification, land degradation and drought on men and women; Green Business Forum on 10-11 May that will focus on private sector commitments to take care of the land, among other things. Launch of Droughtland, a global campaign to rally action on drought on 11 May Launch of the regional Global Land Outlook reports on 18 May Launch of the Sahel uplink challenge to enable communities growing the Great Green Wall to use technology to monitor progress, create jobs and commercialize their produce. The press events planned during the session include: Opening press conference on Monday, 18:00-18:45 UTC (Press Conference Room) Prime Minister and/or Minister of Foreign Affairs, Côte d’Ivoire Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UNCCD The panel will present the host-country ambition and legacy initiative, COP15 expected outcomes and  findings of the study on gender, among other issues. Press Briefing on Tuesday, 10 May (time and location to be determined) Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UNCCD Abdulla Shahid, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations Mr. Jochem Flasbarth, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany Press Conference, Wednesday, 11 May, 13:00-13:30 Press Conference room Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary Representative of Spain, country hosting the global observance of Desertification and Drought Day 2022 Civil Society Representative Launch of Droughtland, a global campaign to rally drought action globally Press Conference, Friday, 20 May, 13:00-13:45 UTC Mr Abou Bamba COP15 President Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary Present the outcomes of the 15th Session of the Conference of Parties Media representatives are welcome to participate. Apply via this link: https://www.unccd.int/cop15/registration to receive accreditation. Press conferences will be conducted with interpretation in English, French and Spanish but webcast in the floor language. Off-site journalists may submit their questions to the panelists via email to press@unccd.int, but must identify themselves and the media organization they are reporting for. Detailed information about the Conference is available from the online Press Kit. Background documents and information on COP15 are available online: at: https://www.unccd.int/cop15 Social media for the Conference can be found on: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/unccd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UNCCD/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/UNCCD #LandLifeLegacy        #UNCCDCOP15          #United4Land             @unccd For further information, please contact: Xenya Scanlon, xscanlon@unccd.int Chief of Communications Ms. Wagaki Wischnewski, wwischnewski@unccd.int Head of Press and Media For interview requests, contact: press@unccd.int Use these links to request for the use of the press conference room or recording studio facilities: Interview/Recording studio: https://koalendar.com/e/interview-studio-cop15 Press conference room: https://koalendar.com/e/press-conference-cop-15

Leaders’ summit in Côte d’Ivoire kicks off major UN conference on the future of land stewardship