STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY H.E. DR IBRAHIMA KHALIL KABA, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND GUINEANS LIVING ABROAD OF THE REPUBLIC OF GUINEA, AT THE HIGH-LEVEL DIALOGUE ON DESERTIFICATION LAND DEGRADATION AND DROUGHT (New York, 14 June 2021)
Honorable Heads of States and Government,
Mr. President of the 75th Session of the General Assembly,
Mr Secretary-General of the United Nations
1. I have the honour to deliver this Statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China at the occasion of the High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD) mitigation in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
2. At the outset, I would like to express our thanks and appreciation, to Mr. President of General Assembly for all your efforts in bringing parties together to fight against desertification, land degradation and drought to meet the implementation of 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. For decades, desertification, land degradation and drought issues were a blind spot for the international community and treated as regional or local concerns. While most of the international attention and effort are focused on Climate Change, combating land degradation and desertification contributes heavily to adaptation and mitigation, and that therefore the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) constitutes an invaluable tool in this regard.
3. Natural resource depletion and the adverse effects of environmental degradation, including desertification, drought, land degradation, freshwater scarcity and biodiversity loss add to and exacerbate the list of challenges which humanity already faces. In recent years, several programs under the implementation of the 2030 Agenda has been rescheduled due to the ongoing challenges posed by the evolution of the COVID19 pandemic worldwide. One of the illustrative examples is the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the UNCCD due to be held in autumn 2021 (decision 33/COP.14) and finally postponed and rescheduled between May and October 2022.
4. This high-level event occurs within a period of preparation of COP26 appointed to be organized in Glasgow in November 2021. The Group stress an urgent need to promote land degradation neutrality and identify SDGs that can accelerate progress and integrate the activities planned for multiple goals. SDG Target 15.3 calls on countries to "combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world. The urgent adoption and implementation of LDN targets by all countries, upscaled ecosystem restoration, food systems reform and enhanced resilience to disaster are necessary in order to sustainably secure land's vital resources for generations to come and accelerate the entire 2030 Agenda;
5. As desertification-related challenges continue to intensify and due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, more attention and actions are urgently required to address the overarching goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: the eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions.
6. 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. 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.
7. The Adoption of Land Degradation Neutrality in the Rio+20 Outcome Document "The future we want" and the establishment of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) as Target 15.3 in the Sustainable Development Goals highlights the environmental importance and the conservation dimension. Reversing land degradation is essential if we are to achieve the goals of the UNCCD, CBD or the UNFCCC as well as to continue meeting related sustainable development targets. The translation of global targets into national ones, such as LDN, will help position the interconnected challenges of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought at the center of the conservation sector, and will provide impetus towards more integrated responses to climate change and the other major environmental crises of our time.
8. We express our 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 stressed 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. We recognized that the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund, a unique public-private partnership, is an innovative model that can be replicated and provide a vehicle for the increased commitment of private capital to land management and restoration.
9. The Group encourages partners and developed countries to increase their efforts and transfer of technology and the provision of funds oriented to addressing desertification, land degradation and drought, particularly in support of development countries national efforts of affected countries. Important efforts are needed to explore how synergies between conservation and sustainable development LDN actions can be financed through national and international financial flows.
I thank you.