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Address to the Parliamentary Committee for Environment and Sustainable Development of the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil

Mr Chairman, Honorable members of the Committee Your excellency, Minister of Environment and Climate, Ladies and Gentlemen, On behalf of the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), I would like to thank the Committee for welcoming me today; especially, as Brazil is looking to secure productive lands and build the resilience of economic sectors, communities, and ecosystems to drought. Promoting sustainable Land management and building resilience to drought: these are the two pillars, the two reason d’être of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.   As the only global treaty dealing with land and drought, the UNCCD celebrates its 30th birthday on 17 June. Remember, it is one of the three Conventions conceived in Rio de Janeiro, at the famous 1992 Summit. After two years of gestation, the Convention was signed in Paris in 1994. We support countries and regions in developing plans, policies and interventions to halt and reverse the loss of fertile land; to create national plans for drought resilience. Brazil ratified the Convention in 1997, integrating the treaty into its legal framework. Brazil is a global leader in agricultural commodity trading; one of the top hydropower producers in the world; and is home to ecosystems that regulate rainfall patterns across the country —and the entire region. Yet, Brazil is affected by more and more severe and frequent droughts, disrupting food production, rural economy and human security. This means Brazil is uniquely placed to appreciate the centrality of sustainable land and water management to all economic and social sectors. Now, why are land degradation and drought a top concern? Consider this: in optimum conditions, it takes between 200 and 400 years for 1 cm of topsoil to form. However, every second, I repeat every second, the world loses the equivalent of four football fields of healthy land due to the destruction of native vegetation and poor land management. Annually, this adds up to 100 million hectares, an area larger than the State of Mato Grosso. If current trends continue, we will need to restore 1.5 billion hectares of land by 2030 to reach the Land Degradation Neutrality goal. Brazil accounts among the countries that continue to lose fertile land every day, every second. In parallel, droughts are hitting faster and more often, posing an unprecedented emergency on a planetary scale: last year, 1 in 4 people in the world were affected by drought, and events have increased by 29% since the year 2000. Drought is a natural phenomenon. However, global warming and the way we treat our land are combining to create human-made droughts. We see their devastating consequences all around us: crop failure, disruptions in freight transportation (as is the case this year with the disruption of the Panama Canal), soaring energy costs, loss of livelihoods, conflicts over scarce resources, large-scale forced migrations. Again, Brazil is one of the most freshwater in the world. Yet, it is no stranger to the impacts of land degradation and drought: from the lingering impacts of a historic drought in the Amazon, to pressures on hydropower and agricultural production, to the expansion of semi-arid and even arid lands. Mr Chairman, Drought is a hazard, but it needn’t be a disaster, as long as we manage it proactively. With the right investments, policies, and incentives, it is possible to decouple the severity of drought from its most serious impacts on societies, economies, and ecosystem functions. Any single dollar invested in drought resilience and prevention can yield up to ten dollars in return. It is therefore encouraging to see Brazil join the International Drought Resilience Initiative. While we can not stop droughts from occurring, with early warnings, preparedness and adapted responses, we can better mitigate its impacts. Since we are as resilient to drought and climate change as our lands are, it is crucial we make agrifood systems part of the solution, incentivizing sustainable land and water management practices that replenish, rather than squander, the natural capital all of us depend on. From that perspective, what I saw two days ago in Caatinga is encouraging. It was indeed inspiring to witness a whole of Government, in fact a whole of society approach to combatting desertification and building the resilience to drought. This said, much remains to be done in Caatinga and other areas affected by land loss and drought. As representatives of the People of Brazil, your role, honourable Parliamentarians can not be understated. We need to plan at the landscape level. This calls for land-use planning to identify the areas that are best suited for food production, protection of water sources, and ecosystem conservation. At the farm level, sustainable land management can combine precision agriculture to optimize the use of irrigation and fertilizers, with low-tech and nature-based solutions like agroforestry, crop rotation or reduced tilling. Again, coming back to Caatinga, low-tech approaches such as the cisternas are making a difference. To further buttress productive systems, and to protect the livelihoods of the 38 million Brazilians who are most vulnerable to desertification and drought, it is also vital this Parliament allocates a robust budget to support the communities: enhancing water management, building resilience to drought; monitoring and assessment; and supporting a just land transition. Especially, in the Caatinga drylands and the Cerrado, which underpins the water security in Brazil and beyond. At the UNCCD secretariat, we stand ready to support Brazil in its journey towards a more resilient future — but it all starts with your decision to prioritize land and drought in your policies and in the budget you allocate to implementing them. Your leadership ---Brazil’s leadership--- can prevent human suffering, protect economic sectors and set an example for nations across the region and around the world. Particularly, in the lead-up to UNCCD COP16, which will be held from 2-13 December in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. UNCCD COP16 is gearing up to be the largest, and most ambitious, global summit on land and drought to date. Together, we will chart the way for Land Degradation Neutrality targets, drought resilience frameworks, and stronger agrifood systems, and work to unlock a multibillion land restoration industry. Given Brazil’s active environmental diplomacy, the country has a particular role to play as a member of groups such a the G20, BRICS, G77 and LAC. Land degradation and Drought issues are rather unifying. They provide excellent opportunities for countries to play their soft power. Brazil’s active diplomacy and extraordinary political influence will be needed to make the Riyadh COP a moonshot moment for land and fought in the world. Finally, COP16 provide opportunity to Members of Parliament from country Parties to actively participate in the Conference. We look forward to your active engagement in the lead up to, and during COP16, and stand ready to support Brazil in its drive to be a beacon for sustainable land management. Thank you

Address to the Parliamentary Committee for Environment and Sustainable Development of the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil
Address to authorities in Caatinga, Brazil

Your Excellency Minister Marina Silva, Your Excellency Minister Wellington Dias, Dear governor Jerónimo Rodrigues, I also would like to recognize here the authorities of the University of the São Francisco Valley - Univasf   that is hosting us today, Ladies and gentlemen, On behalf of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) I thank you wholeheartedly for the warm welcome to Caatinga. Especially, for sharing your experience in securing resilient lands and livelihoods in the drylands. On 17 June, the United Nations Convention on Land and Drought (UNCCD) will mark a significant milestone - 30 years of commitment to our planet. As the only legally binding global instrument focused on land and drought, the UNCCD stands proudly alongside the Biodiversity and Climate Conventions as one of the three Rio Conventions, born out of the world famous 1992 Summit. We support our 197 Parties in designing policies, investments, and interventions to halt and reverse the loss of productive land; to create national plans for drought resilience; and to reduce the negative impact of land and soil loss in vulnerable communities. Brazil ratified the Convention in 1997, integrating the treaty into its legal framework. Caatinga is home to scores of species, many of them unique to this biome, and is said to be the most populous dryland area on the planet. Its very existence acts as living proof of the ability of plants, animals, and culturally diverse communities to adapt to semiarid environments. However, life in the planet’s —life that required hundreds and even thousands of years to evolve— is now under pressure from the combined effects of land degradation and climate change. Every year, the world loses 100 million hectares of fertile land, an area larger than the state of Mato Grosso. More than half of the world’s rangelands are degraded, compromising food security and the soil carbon stock, which comes only after the ocean’s.  If current trends continue, we will need to restore 1.5 billion hectares of land by 2030 to reach the Land Degradation Neutrality goal. Barren lands cannot adequately infiltrate and retain water, increasing runoff and accelerating erosion, instead. As a result of global warming and the way we treat our lands, droughts are hitting faster and more often, posing an emergency on a planetary scale: last year, 1 in 4 people were affected by drought worldwide, and events have increased by 29% since the year 2000. Drought is a hazard, but it needn’t be a disaster. With evidence-based policies, practices, and investments, it is possible to decouple the severity of drought from its most serious impacts on lives and livelihoods. Earlier today, I joined a visit to the community of Malhada da Areia. There, I had the opportunity to see how nature-based solutions, sustainable land and water management practices, and simple technologies are building drought resilience. The community is investing in rainwater harvesting; water reuse systems; and agricultural practices that replenish, rather than deplete, the soils. Across Caatinga, this and dozens of other communities are also fencing selected areas to enable natural regeneration of the native vegetation; keeping the grazing stock within the carrying capacity of their land; and diversifying their sources of income. Each and every one of them shows, with tangible results, that it is very much possible to reset our relationship with the land, and prepare for drought before it strikes. With support from civil society organizations, governmental entities, research institutions, and international partners —with your support— the estimated 38 million Brazilians that live in semiarid lands shall also be able to lay the ground for a more resilient, and prosperous, future. Consider the UNCCD Secretariat your trusted ally. Along with the International Drought Resilience Alliance, to which we are delighted to welcome Brazil. Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, from 2 to 13 December, Saudi Arabia will host UNCCD COP16 - the largest and most ambitious global summit on land and drought to date. Together, we will set targets for land degradation neutrality, set up frameworks for drought resilience, strengthen agri-food systems, and work to unlock a multi-billion-dollar land restoration industry.  Where human-made drought says crop failure, we say proactive drought management; where land degradation says migration, we say sustainable land management; where unchecked land conversion says deforestation, we say land use planning; where the lack of prioritization says reactive, we say proactive. In the lead-up to COP16, I count on Brazil’s leadership to help steer our collective boat to a sustainable, and equitable, future for all. Thank you.

Address to authorities in Caatinga, Brazil
New observatory to track progress of Africa's Great Green Wall 

The Great Green Wall Observatory, a digital platform that will help track progress of Africa's largest land restoration initiative, was unveiled on 27-29 May following the meeting of 11 participating countries in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The Observatory was developed by the Great Green Wall Accelerator, hosted by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) as part of its supporting role to the Pan African Agency for the Great Green Wall (PAGGW) and other partners.   The Great Green Wall is an ambitious and transformative Initiative launched by the African Union in 2007 to combat land degradation, desertification, and the negative impacts of climate change in the Sahel region of Africa.   Across the African continent, degrading land jeopardizes farmers' livelihoods and shapes economies heavily reliant on agriculture, compromising public health and education, while also destabilizing regional and global trade, and being a major driver of conflicts and forced migration.   Restoring land is essential for safeguarding ecosystems, driving economic growth, mitigating natural disasters, and enhancing land productivity and food supplies. This is of particular importance in the Sahel, where political and security challenges make progress a matter of urgency. Success in this region offers a model for other areas facing similar challenges, demonstrating that humanity can overcome adversity and promote sustainable development.  The Great Green Wall Accelerator, established in 2021 and hosted by the UNCCD Global Mechanism, was created to strengthen the monitoring of the Initiative's funding and results. The Accelerator has played a pivotal role in enhancing governance, fundraising efforts, and stakeholder engagement across the Initiative.  While ‘commendable progress’ has been made in land restoration and job creation, overcoming challenges in governance, finance and technical support remains critical. Stakeholders are calling for greater clarity and data on progress.   The Great Green Wall Observatory, funded by the Government of Austria through the Austrian Development Agency, is a direct response to this need for the national agencies and the Pan African Agency. Through its creation, UNCCD has supported the development of a comprehensive map of available funds and projects to facilitate access to financial resources.   "The Great Green Wall Observatory, which we have just launched, is a product that we appreciate very much because it has been produced in a very participatory way and it meets the existing needs by allowing us to assess the status of funding and progress in our respective countries.” said Pananditigri Nabasnogo Roch, National Coordinator of Burkina Faso's Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative.   These data are, for the first time, available online – thus helping ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Great Green Wall Initiative.  “The Great Green Wall remains the beacon of hope for Africa and the world, symbolizing humanity's ability to combat environmental degradation. We call on all stakeholders, partners, and communities to continue their commitment in support of this visionary initiative. Data remains a critical asset to the success of this initiative, and we call on all stakeholders to make use of the Great Green Wall Observatory to contribute relevant data to help accelerate progress,” said UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw.   It is important to note that the UNCCD does not provide funding nor implement the Great Green Wall Initiative. Instead, the UNCCD provides critical technical support, encourages private sector participation, and promotes the involvement of civil society and research institutions through national Great Green Wall coalitions.   “Through these actions, the UNCCD aims to support the Great Green Wall Initiative countries and partners in achieving its long-term goals and create a sustainable, resilient future for the people of the Sahel and beyond,” added Thiaw.  About the Great Green Wall Initiative   The Great Green Wall is an African-led movement launched in 2007 by leaders from the Sahelian countries, with an epic ambition to grow an 8,000 km natural wonder of the world across the entire width of Africa. Countries of the initiative include Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and Chad.  The Initiative aims to regreen the Sahel, restoring degraded lands and providing decent livelihoods as well as jobs and opportunities for millions of people in Africa. It snakes all the way from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East. The Great Green Wall aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land, sequester 250 million tons of carbon and create 10 million green jobs by 2030.  About the Great Green Wall Accelerator   In 2021, the Great Green Wall Accelerator, hosted by the Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was created to monitor funding and results of the GGW Initiative.  The independent review of the Great Green Wall Accelerator is available here.  About the Great Green Wall Observatory  In 2023, Development Gateway, an IREX Venture (DG), was contracted by the UNCCD to develop and roll out the platform as a monitoring evaluation system to inform local, national, and regional programming.   For more information - https://ggwobservatory.org/en  

New observatory to track progress of Africa's Great Green Wall 
UNCCD welcomes G7 decisive statement on land

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) welcomes the G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers Communiqué of 30 April 2024, which underlines the critical importance of addressing land degradation, desertification and soil health as fundamental elements of global sustainability efforts. UNCCD is particularly encouraged by the Italian G7 Presidency's launch of a voluntary Hub on Sustainable Land Use dedicated to promoting a collaborative and common approach to sustainable land use initiatives in Africa and in the Mediterranean Basin in support of achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN). The Hub will focus on sustainable livelihoods, enhancement of food security and promotion of land-based employment, with special regard to communities on the frontlines of land degradation, including Indigenous Peoples, youth and women. The UNCCD commends the G7 for its commitment to immediate and tangible action, such as proposals to increase funding for sustainable land management by 40 per cent over the next decade and to advance scientific research on soil health. These initiatives are critical to addressing these crises and underscore the need for global cooperation and leadership in this crucial decade. "Integrating land and soil health into broader economic and social systems provides a pathway to sustainable, inclusive growth that leaves no one behind. This approach is essential to building resilience to the impacts of climate change and ensuring the health and productivity of the land on which all life depends,” said UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw. “The G7's recognition of land degradation and desertification as both environmental and socio-economic challenges dovetails seamlessly with the goals of the UNCCD. Our collaborative approach is critical to scaling up efforts to significantly reduce land degradation, with the goal of a 50 per cent reduction by 2040, as outlined in the G20 Global Land Initiative,” he added. Furthermore, G7's strong emphasis on the interlinked crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, which have significant impacts on land and soil, is a decisive step forward ahead of the meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the three Rio Conventions later this year, notably UNCCD COP16 to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 2-13 December. “Welcoming the G7's vision, the UNCCD calls on all nations to strengthen their commitment to land health as an integral part of their environment and development agendas. UNCCD looks forward to further collaboration with the G7 and other international partners. Together, we want to implement the ambitious agendas set out in this Communiqué and ensure that land remains a cornerstone of global efforts to combat environmental degradation and promote sustainable development,” Thiaw concluded.

UNCCD welcomes G7 decisive statement on land
UNEA-6 Multilateral Environmental Agreements Day: Keynote by Ibrahim Thiaw

Madame President, Dear UNEP Executive Director, Excellencies, Presidents and chairs of COPs Ministers, Dear colleagues Executive Secretaries of MEAs, Honorable Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to start by thanking the President of UNEA (my sister Leila Ben Ali) and the Executive Director of UNEP (my other sister Inger Andersen) for dedicating an entire day of UNEA6 to the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). This is a real credit to UNEP. UNEA is one of the important platforms to discuss these issues. Thirty years after the signing of the Rio conventions, and more than fifty years after the creation of some of the MEAs represented here, we must face the facts: the implementation of these treaties cannot be done in silos. We cannot be effective if the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Even less so if all the work done by the national focal point for one convention is ignored, or worse, brushed aside by another focal point. Putting things in order therefore begins at home, at the national level. International partners and development agencies, where appropriate, should play their part. MEA secretariats should help engineer cooperation and technical support. In this respect, institutions such as UNEP and Assemblies such as UNEA have a historic responsibility and a critical role to play in harmonizing the work and focus of the various MEAs as we face a multitude of interconnected crises. About the triple planetary crisis, indeed we face a climate crisis, a pollution crisis and a nature crisis. I would be remiss, as head of the UNCCD, not to insist that the nature crisis includes the immense crisis of land and drought, which is currently affecting more than 3 billion people, causing food insecurity, water scarcity and forced displacements. Action on the land is a powerful force for unity. The health of the land determines the food we eat, the water we drink, the quality of the air we breathe, the clothes we wear and many other services that contribute to our well-being. But the damage we inflict on our land poses a serious threat to world peace, and to the global economy. Similarly, the links between land and pollution are obvious. Air pollution is amplified by sand and dust storms. While plastic pollution affects rivers, lakes and oceans, the bulk of the stock stays in land affecting food production, people and the earth system as a whole. The good news is that there are solutions to these serious problems. They are well within our reach and this is literally in our hands. Make no mistake: the best solutions are those that tackle several challenges at once. We must slow down and adapt to climate change, protect and restore nature and biodiversity, reverse land degradation and desertification, and end pollution and waste. We don’t have the luxury of dedicating Monday to climate or pollution, Tuesday to biodiversity and only think that we can wait until Wednesday to tackle Land degradation. These issues are like communicating vessels and we have to address all these challenges at once! The scientific community is increasingly moving from sounding the alarm to signposting solutions that require concerted efforts. However, progress on turning commitments into transformative action must accelerate. Rapidly. Coherently. Consistently. Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, 2024 represents a new opportunity for us all: The three Rio conventions will hold their COPs consecutively at the end of this year. We already had a successful CMS COP a few days ago. At the UNCCD COP16 in Saudi Arabia - in December – we will embark on a unique journey – one that brings all communities of policy and practice to join forces towards a common goal: that of making land healthy again. Parties assembled in Riyadh at UNCCD COP16 will present a groundbreaking action agenda for all MEAs to reverse degradation and to accelerate efforts to restore 1.5 billion hectares of land by 2030. Healthy and productive land is the operational link between climate action and biodiversity conservation. Linking up action on land will allow us to take advantage of the synergies that build resilience, mitigate the impacts of climate change, safeguard biodiversity, provide food security for billions around the world, and transform the way we manage the environment and consume its bounty. And this is everyone’s effort. We must ensure that the work on each MEA commitment dovetails with and amplifies the work of the others. By forging synergies with UN entities and conventions, we can amplify our impact, leverage resources, and foster greater coherence in our collective response to global environmental challenges. For example: aligning land degradation neutrality targets with nationally determined contributions and the new biodiversity targets can maximize the impact of nature-positive investments and significantly diminish the huge gap between commitment and action. After all, we are facing one single global challenge – the sustainability of the planet and striving for an environment of peace and prosperity. Martin Luther King Jr once said: “We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now”. So, while MEAs have individual mandates, they ultimately have the same ambition: protecting the people and the planet. Let us make 2024 a pivotal year for environmental multilateralism. The science is clear and sobering. Long-term planning and cooperation are of the essence. But urgent action is needed. Recent years have proven that environmental multilateralism is working. It remains our best shot at tackling the complex and interconnected environmental challenges. Let’s take it! Thank you.

UNEA-6 Multilateral Environmental Agreements Day: Keynote by Ibrahim Thiaw
Signing of COP16 host country agreement with Saudi Arabia: Remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw

Your Excellency Minister Abdulrahman Al-Fadley, Honorable Ministers and Deputy ministers, Dear Colleagues and friends, It’s an honor for me to sign this agreement, on behalf of the United Nations, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as host to the Conference of the Parties (COP16) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). I would like to thank Minister Al-Fadley, and through you, the Government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The moment could not be more solemn: today we have signed more than a Host Country Agreement. We are sealing the commitment between two Parties, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Nations, to join forces, to forge daily relationships, to build bridges across oceans and continents in order to make Riyadh, from 2 to 13 December 2024, the Multilateral Capital of the World, as far as our relations with the land are concerned. We are building an umbrella under which vulnerable populations around the world will find protective shelter to build their resilience in the face of severe and destructive droughts. Indeed, Saudi Arabia, its people and its Leadership will welcome tens of thousands of participants to the sixteenth session (COP16) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Land Degradation and Mitigate the Effects of Drought. Between the time we sign this agreement and the time we actually hold the Conference of the Parties, humanity will have degraded some 100 million hectares of fertile land. Over the same period, it is feared that hundreds of millions of people will be hit by severe droughts, with no safety valve or protective cushion. During the same period, women, children and other vulnerable groups will find themselves forced to flee from poverty, often venturing on extraordinarily perilous odysseys. Unless exceptional measures are taken, the loss of soil and productive land will lead to further conflicts over access to land and water, further food insecurity and, in some cases, a total loss of food sovereignty. Ladies and Gentlemen, COP16 will put a human face on these so-called natural or ecological phenomena. Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of this global treaty, COP16 will take place at a pivotal moment for our Convention. It is the time to move from strategies, plans and other methodological visions to action. It is the time to transform pledges into operations on the ground. Having realized how much we have scarred the face of the earth, we need to heal the wounds, not only to make the earth more beautiful, but to enable it to provide us with more vital services. We need the land. Land does not need us. We live off the land, it feeds us, clothes us and waters us. COP 16 gives humanity the opportunity not only to review its relationship with nature, but also to save itself from the perils it is inflicting on itself. Riyadh, in December, will be this nurturing and refreshing oasis in the middle of the desert. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be offering the representatives of the 197 Contracting Parties to the UNCCD and many other stakeholders not only its legendary hospitality but also a strong sense of solidarity and shared commitment.   We hope the world will heed our urgent call and this generous invitation from our hosts to come together in Riyadh for COP16 and secure our land's future. Thank you. Shukran.

Signing of COP16 host country agreement with Saudi Arabia: Remarks by Ibrahim Thiaw
Notes de M. Ibrahim Thiaw à l’occasion du Forum International de Dakar sur la Paix et la Sécurité en Afrique

Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs, « Pour une Afrique résiliante et démocratique : approche intégrée face à l’instabilité récurrente et aux fragilités institutionnelles ». Choix de thème ne pouvait être plus judicieux. Riche mais pauvre. Plusieurs intervenants ont déjà mis l’accent sur ce paradoxe vécu en Afrique. En Afrique, on parle de potentialités et d’opportunités. En Afrique, on aspire à transformer l’essai, c’est-à-dire à dépasser la phase de transition et mouvoir vers la pleine valorisation des richesses naturelles. Construire une Afrique résiliante et démocratique, suggère d’adopter une approche sécuritaire plus intégrée et adresser véritablement les causes profondes du mal africain. Mieux gérer les convoitises diverses et variées qui gangrènent le continent. Convoitises liées à la terre, à l’eau, aux hydrocarbures, aux resources minières, forestières, halieutiques et fauniques. Dans un contexte de changement climatique et de croissance démographique explosive, combinés à une faible gouvernance politique, économique et sociale, les ingrédients sont réunis pour une situation complexe.  Aujourd’hui, les risques sécuritaires les plus élevés dans le monde (et en Afrique) ne sont plus les conflits armés entre nations ennemies. Nous ne sommes plus dans un contexte de rivalité Est-Ouest, de décolonisation ou de guerres de libération. Aujourd’hui, parmi les premières causes d’insécurité figure la détérioration de l’environnement. On se tue pour l’accès à un lopin de terre fertile, à un point d’eau ou à un pâturage. L’instabilité s’installe dans certains pays riches en ressources naturelles, maintenant ainsi leurs populations dans une pauvreté absolue, comme si quelqu’un avait décidé, avec un dessein plus ou moins avoué, que plus le pays africain est riche, plus ses populations doivent rester dans la pauvreté. Certains évoquent -non sans me révolter profondément- le concept de malédiction des ressources.   Cependant, si le concept d’insécurité a changé de centre de gravité, notre réponse est restée largement figée dans le temps ; par conséquent, souvent mal adaptée. On le voit chaque jour, par la fermeture des opérations de maintien de la paix (alors qu’il n’y a point de paix), le retrait de troupes étrangères venues en masse, avec la meilleure volonté du monde. On le voit par l’inadaptation des réponses offertes par nos forces de défense nationales, parfois mal formées aux situations conflictuelles asymétriques. On le voit aussi par l’inadaptation des réponses des Etats aux nombreux défis environnementaux, dont les départements chargés de l’environment disposent de budgets faméliques et de ressources inadéquates.   Si les causes profondes de notre maladie sont liées à l’environnement, pourquoi donc la gestion des resources naturelles continue d’être ignorée dans les accords de paix ou dans les manifestes de partis et d’élus politiques ? Pourquoi les budgets, ressources et politiques relatifs à la gestion des resources naturelles continuent de figurer en filigrane ? Comment peut-on soigner un malade dont le diagnostic continue d’être faussé ? Les meilleurs médecins de brousse n’étant pas forcément de bons mages, il est essentiel que le patient joue à la transparence. Vous me permettrez de citer deux cas de figure pour illustrer mes propos : Première illustration : la rareté des ressources comme source de conflit. Dans son rapport sur le pastoralisme et la sécurité, le Bureau des Nations Unies pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest et le Sahel[1] confirme que la compétition croissante pour l'accès à l'eau et aux pâturages est l'un des principaux moteurs des conflits dans la sous-région. Au départ, l’on assiste à une compétition classique entre usagers de la nature : agriculteurs et éleveurs. A l’arrivée, l’on peut faire face à un conflit inter-ethnique. Non, les Peuls et les Dogons ne sont pas des ennemis. Pas plus que les Haoussa et les Touaregs ; les Toubous et les Djerma. Bien au contraire, ces groupes avaient en fait, depuis des siècles, pacifié leurs relations grâce à la puissante « parenté à plaisanterie », introduite au début du 13è siècle par le régime de Soundiata Keita. Des pactes sacrés et des actes concrets étaient institutionnalisés pour ne jamais verser le sang de son « cousin à plaisanterie ».   Malheureusement, les points de rupture écologiques ont été atteints depuis longtemps, et ces compétitions pour l’accès à la terre et à l’eau s’amplifient, prenant parfois des dimensions confessionnelles. Mal gérés, ils alimentent les rhétoriques de mouvements Jihadistes, dont certains reprochent aux Etats de prendre partie. Là aussi, il est à craindre que nous déployons des réponses mal adaptées aux défis. Le Sahel est d’abord et avant tout malade de l’effrondrement du vivant.   Les causes des conflits évoluent donc, nos réponses ne le sont pas. La rareté des ressources naturelles n’est pas la seule cause de conflits dans nos régions. Hélas, autre signe de mauvaise gouvernance, l’abondance des ressources est aussi un germe dévastateur.   Les ressources minières, les hydrocarbures, les ressources fauniques, halieutiques et forestières attisent d’énormes convoitises. Et cela n’a rien de récent. Déjà en 1885, la conférence de Berlin consacrait le dépècement de l’Afrique par huit puissances européennes. Les indépendances politiques des Etats modernes n’ont pu se défaire d’un joug économique bien établi, basé essentiellement sur l’extraction. Ces convoitises prennent de l’ampleur avec l’avénement de l’économie-monde, avec de nouveaux venus sur la scène, qui cherchent aussi une place au soleil. Un rapport stratégique conjoint de l’UNEP et d’INTERPOL sur l’environnement, la paix et la sécurité en République Démocratique du Congo [2], note que des criminels exploitent illégalement les ressources naturelles, y compris l'or, le coltan et les diamants. Plus grave, ces exploitants illégaux financent divers groupes armés non-étatiques qui se battent entre eux, de telle sorte qu’aucun groupe ne domine l’autre. Une façon de perpétuer le chaos et, par conséquent l’exploitation abusive des ressources. Le rapport estime qu'au moins 40 % des conflits internes sont liés aux ressources naturelles. La criminalité environnementale ne peut être combattue de manière isolée. Pour lutter contre ces crimes organisés, de loin les plaies les plus profondes infligées à l’économie africaine, les réponses doivent être multi-formes, organisées et bien coordonnées.  Pour être efficace, une telle lutte nécessite un effort global et coopératif. Cela exigera également une réponse plus large de la part de la communauté internationale, mais surtout des pays concernés. L’abondance comme la rareté des ressources ne doivent pas être des fatalités. Ni l’une ni l’autre ne devrait constituer une menace sérieuse à la paix et à la sécurité. En fait, elles ne le sont que lorsque la gouvernance est défaillante. Parlant des réponses à ces crises, empruntons une analogie médicale : ne vaut-il pas mieux chercher les causes profondes de la maladie, plutôt que de prodiguer un traitement symptomatique superficiel ? Jusque-là, les réponses militaires ont été privilégiées– y compris au Sahel. Nul doute que les vaillantes forces armées sont nécessaires, mais elles ne peuvent demeurer la seule réponse, face aux urgences climatiques, aux pénuries d’eau, aux déficits alimentaires et à la pauvreté.   L’on ne tire pas une balle sur un feu de brousse si l’on veut l’éteindre. La Police n’arrêtera ni un vent de sable, ni un ouragan. Pour lutter contre l’élévation du niveau de la mer qui menace des millions de citoyens, la solution est à chercher du côté de la réduction des émissions de gaz à effet de serre, ou tout au moins des techniques d’adaptation au changement climatique. Le développement durable et la sécurité humaine sont comme des siamois. Inséparables, ils sont complémentaires. Le développement n’est point envisageable sans la sécurité. De même, il n’y a point de sécurité sans une gestion durable de nos ressources naturelles.   Permettez-moi, pour conclure, d’en dire un mot sur l’immigration clandestine, une de nos plaies ouvertes et cause d’une grave insécurité humaine. Si ce phénomène est aussi ancien que l’humanité, les récentes vagues de départs non-organisés sont autant socialement douloureuses qu’elles ne sont économiquement pénibles. Les pertes des moyens de production dues à la dégradation des terres agricoles et pastorales ou à la sur-exploitation des pêcheries ont jeté des millions de jeunes sur des routes périlleuses. Ces départs, vers des destinations de plus en plus lointaines, sont d’abord des fuites de cerveaux ou de bras valides. Certains, mais une minorité de plus en plus réduite, s’en sortent. La majorité n’y parviennent pas. Là aussi, certains pays de destination ont adopté la politique du tout-sécuritaire, allant jusqu’à construire des murs, physiques ou virtuels. Nous pensons que l’une des meilleures solutions seraient d’investir sur les zones et pays d’émigration, sur la restauration des terres dégradées, afin de permettre une production décente et sécurisante pour les familles. De Antananarivo à Tanger, de Djibouti à Dakar, de Luanda à Mombasa, l’Afrique regorge de ressources, de solutions et d’opportunités. Ne manquant ni de terre ni de soleil, ni de bras ni de génie, l’Afrique est comme ce fruit mûr qui demande à être cueilli. Dans un monde assailli par de féroces compétitions, l’Afrique doit s’inventer des solutions favorables à son développement et s’affranchir d’un joug politique et économique qui n’a que trop durer.   Je vous remercie. [1] Pastoralisme et Sécurité en Afrique de l’Ouest et au Sahel Vers une coexistence pacifique Etude du Bureau des Nations Unies pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest et le Sahel (UNOWAS) Aout 2018 https://unowas.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/rapport_pastoralisme_fr-avril_2019_-_online.pdf [2] INTERPOL-UN Environment (2016). Strategic Report: Environment, Peace and Security – A Convergence of Threats https://wedocs.unep.org/handle/20.500.11822/17008;jsessionid=2EAB6CD7FA6C6DB77CC024356BEC658C  

Notes de M. Ibrahim Thiaw à l’occasion du Forum International de Dakar sur la Paix et la Sécurité en Afrique
Вступительное слово на открытии КРОК-21 Исполнительного секретаря КБО Ибрагима Тиау

Премьер-министр Абдулла Нигматович Арипов, господин Азиз Абдукахарович Абдухакимов, министр экологии, охраны окружающей среды и изменения климата Республики Узбекистан, госпожа Мадам Бильяна Килибарда, председатель Комитета по рассмотрению осуществления Конвенции (КРОК), уважаемые делегаты, представители международных организаций, представители неправительственных организаций, наблюдатели! Дамы и господа! Приятно вновь оказаться в прекрасном Самарканде. Я хотел бы поблагодарить правительство и народ Узбекистана за их гостеприимство и легендарную щедрость. Самарканд - один из древнейших многонаселенных городов Центральной Азии - не случайно включен в престижный список Всемирного наследия ЮНЕСКО. Самарканд отличается тем, что является "перекрестком культур". Поскольку культура не существует без природы, этот город на большую часть следующих десяти дней станет одним из центров мира. Центром, где собрались 197 участников Конвенции ООН, посвященной проблемам земли и засухи, чтобы измерить пульс планеты. Пора оценить, насколько деградировала наша земля, насколько разрушена наша экономика, осознанно или неосознанно, намеренно или не намеренно. Пора оценить, насколько устойчив - или, скорее, неустойчив - наш образ жизни.  Пора проверить, сколько резервов и запасов наших детей мы проедаем. Сколько будущего наших внуков мы ставим под угрозу, чрезмерно добывая и эксплуатируя наш природный капитал. Чаще всего мы делаем это из жадности. А не из-за крайней необходимости. Находясь в Самарканде, мы вспоминаем о том, что цивилизации до нас оставили нам пищу, сырье, воду, от которых мы все так сильно зависим! Но пребывание в Узбекистане - это еще и напоминание, как сильно мы уничтожили природу во имя прогресса. Во имя развития и стремления к процветанию. Мы нанесли самые уродливые шрамы на лицо Земли. Одна из таких экологических катастроф находится здесь, в Аральском море. Этот когда-то такой большой пресноводный резервуар, который мы по ошибке назвали морем, сейчас частично заполнен песчаными дюнами. Трагедия, разыгравшаяся всего за одно поколение. Я жду возможности посетить регион Арала, чтобы своими глазами увидеть грандиозные меры, предпринимаемые для уменьшения экологических рисков, связанных с водозабором и чрезмерной добычей воды. Самарканд войдет в историю Конвенции как место, где была организована важнейшая встреча, послужившая ступенькой между COP 15 в Абиджане и COP 16 в Эр-Рияде. В предстоящие пять насыщенных дней ваши дискуссии в Самарканде станут основой для успеха COP, которая состоится в Эр-Рияде в декабре следующего года. Из повестки дня КРОК 21 позвольте выделить два пункта: новый портал данных по деградации земель, который был создан на основе ваших отчетов и данных, собранных по 126 странам. Впервые за всю историю Конвенции мы имеем данные о тенденциях как по потере земель, так и по их восстановлению, представленные нашими сторонами. Хотя эту работу еще предстоит улучшить, первые признаки дают ужасающие цифры: ежегодно деградирует не менее 100 млн га земель. Мы призываем все стороны Конвенции внести свой вклад в подготовку следующего отчета, поскольку эта база данных потенциально может служить мировым справочником по потерям и восстановлению земель. Кроме того, мы заслушаем представителей двух межправительственных рабочих групп - группы по промежуточному обзору и группы, работающей над проблемой засухи. Дамы и господа! Как вы знаете, за последние несколько лет проблемы деградации земель и засухоустойчивости приобрели беспрецедентный размах. Хотя многое еще предстоит сделать, ваша работа никогда не была так заметна, как сегодня. Не только в средствах массовой информации, но в залах заседаний и в коридорах власти. Это свидетельствует о растущей приверженности и внимании мирового сообщества к проблеме опустынивания, засухи и деградации земель. Мир приходит к пониманию того, что эти явления затрагивают всех нас, богатых и бедных, хотя основное бремя ложится на плечи беднейших слоев населения. Однако это понимание сопровождается значительным увеличением нагрузки на Секретариат. Наши сотрудники чувствуют необходимость делать больше, и они делают гораздо больше. Но с гораздо меньшими ресурсами. За последние десять лет наш бюджет в евро не изменился. В действительности же, в стоимостном выражении, бюджет резко сократился, учитывая значительный рост стоимости жизни. Анализ и предложение по бюджету будут представлены к следующей Конференции сторон КС-16. Наконец, позвольте мне сказать, что я горжусь тем, что в Секретариате и Глобальном механизме работают такие талантливые сотрудники. Прошу присоединиться к моим словам и выразить всем благодарность за их нелегкий труд. Дамы и господа, Лучшего хозяина для проведения этой сессии КРОК представить невозможно. У нас не могло быть лучших условий для успешного проведения сессии. Ваши дискуссии и рекомендации в этом великолепном зале, по большому счету, станут той основой, благодаря которой миллионы людей во всем мире получат доступ к здоровой земле и будут жить на здоровой планете. От ваших обсуждений зависит судьба будущих детей. В каком направлении вы хотите их повести? В сторону здоровой окружающей среды, унаследованной нами от предков, или в сторону несчастливой жизни, которую, если не переключим внимание, мы, скорее всего, передадим нашим потомкам. Будущее наступило. Оно буквально в наших руках. Спасибо.

Вступительное слово на открытии КРОК-21 Исполнительного секретаря КБО Ибрагима Тиау
Message to UNCCD CRIC21 from UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 13 November, 2023 Leaders have made a promise to the world: to combat the terrible trend of transforming healthy land into desert; to revitalize areas humanity has pushed into degradation and decay; and to create a world that is land degradation neutral. Keeping these promises is vital for nature, and for communities. But we are moving in the wrong direction. Between 2015 and 2019, 100 million hectares were degraded every single year, adding up to an area twice the size of Greenland. If current trends continue, we will need to restore the health of a staggering 1.5 billion hectares of degraded land by 2030. We can and must turn this around. Around the world we see examples of land being given a new lease of life, including in Uzbekistan. And the world could surpass its neutrality target if it works together to halt new land degradation and accelerate restoration. To achieve this, we need governments, businesses and communities to work together to conserve natural areas, scale up sustainable food production, and develop green urban areas and supply chains. I urge all of you to use this intersessional meeting to step up ambition and action to help make that a reality. Together, let’s see degraded lands thrive once more.

Message to UNCCD CRIC21 from UN Secretary-General António Guterres