Mr. President,

1. I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

2. At the outset, the Group would like to congratulate you on your election as President of the 14th Session of the COP. We also extend our appreciation to the Executive Secretary of the Convention, Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, and his team for their efforts to further the objective of combating desertification and land degradation and mitigating the effects of drought.

3. We take this opportunity to thank the Government and People of India for hosting this Conference, as well as for the hospitality extended to all of us since our arrival to the country.

4. The Group continues to attach great importance to the challenges of desertification, land degradation, drought and sand and dust storms as they are major environmental, economic and social challenges for global sustainable development, and are the cause of great suffering to millions of people across the world.

5. The Group expresses its deep concern about the continuous trend of land degradation in which about one fifth of the Earth's land surface covered by vegetation showed persistent and declining trends in productivity. We stress that in some cases, advanced stages of land degradation are leading to desertification. In this context, it is significant to continue combatting desertification, restoring degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, especially in developing countries.

6. Action on adaptation to climate change is an urgent priority for developing countries, especially those that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, and bearing in mind that the provision of scaled-up financial resources should aim to achieve a balance between adaptation and mitigation.

7. The Group recognizes the interlinkages between climate change and land degradation as outlined by the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land, as land is both a source and a sink of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and climate change contributes to and exacerbates land degradation and desertification processes.

Mr. President,

8. The Group recalls that in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly in target 15.3, the international community committed to combating desertification, restoring degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and striving to achieve a land-degradation-neutral world by 2030.

9. Therefore, strengthening the resilience of ecosystems, agriculture, infrastructure, and societies as a whole is more urgent than ever as we reaffirm our commitment to achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions - economic, social and environmental - in a balanced and integrated manner.

10. In this connection, the Group reaffirms that the achievement of the SDGs and targets, including Goal 15 and target 15.3, would serve as an accelerator to ending poverty and hunger, tackling inequality and stimulating sustained and inclusive economic growth.

11. The Group acknowledges that desertification, land degradation and drought are challenges of global dimension and contribute to and aggravate economic, social and environmental problems such as poverty, poor health, lack of food security, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, reduced resilience to climate change and forced migration.

12. Furthermore, protecting and restoring land are important instruments in the fight against desertification. Therefore, there is a need to strengthen the environmental information and knowledge management aspects of desertification, land degradation, and drought.

Mr. President,

13. The Group recognizes the early action taken by the UNCCD Secretariat to assist countries in target setting and identification of national hot spots for rehabilitation or restoration. However, much is still needed to be done, including the need to tackle the different realities at the national and regional level to implement the decisions of the Convention.

14. The Group affirms that action to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) has the potential to act as an accelerator for achieving a number of Sustainable Development Goals and as a catalyst for attracting sustainable development financing and climate finance to implement the Convention, in line with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

15. The Group calls upon all countries to develop an integrated approach, including environmental protection, poverty alleviation and social-economic sustainable development, and urges developed country Parties to actively support the efforts of developing country Parties in promoting Sustainable Land Management practices and in seeking to achieve the LDN targets, as appropriate, by providing substantial financial resources, facilitated access to appropriate technology and other forms of support.
Mr. President,

16. The Group recognizes sand and dust storms as a serious challenge to sustainable development in the affected countries and regions, and reiterates its calls upon the United Nations system to play its role in advancing international cooperation and support to combat sand and dust storms, and invites all other related organizations to integrate into their respective cooperation frameworks and operational programmes measures and actions aimed at combating sand and dust storms, including the following measures: enhancing capacity-building at the national level; the development and implementation of regional and sub-regional programmes and projects; the sharing of information, best practices and experiences and the transferring of technology; efforts to control and prevent the main factors of sand and dust storms; and the development of early warning systems as crucial tools to address this issue.

17. The Group stresses the importance of addressing the socioeconomic and environmental challenges of the affected countries and of ways to address combating sand and dust storms in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. President,

18. The Group restates that the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs is the most relevant issue for developing countries. The collective implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs will generate a starting point to build the future we need in order to protect and support future generations and humankind.

19. In conclusion, the Group reiterates its commitment for engaging constructively on the discussions of the COP 14 agenda and to contribute to decisions that will advance the implementation of this important Convention and the achievement of Goal 15 and target 15.3.

I thank you.