UN summit to address crises linked to land degradation

New Delhi: The 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) opens on Monday in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, amidst presence of more than a dozen heads of state and government, ministers, and at least 2,000 delegates from 196 countries and the European Union (EU).

UNCCD’s COP15, themed ‘Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity’, will open with a heads of state summit and high-level segment May 9-10 to raise political momentum to meet global commitments for restoration and robust actions that, by 2030, build the resilience of communities vulnerable to drought.

Leaders are meeting in Abidjan against the backdrop of a recent stark warning by the UNCCD that up to 40 per cent of all ice-free land is already degraded, with dire consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods.

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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 droughts, sand and dust storms, wildfires and other disaster risks.

The high-level delegates include: Alassane Ouattara, President of Cote d’Ivoire; Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN; Abdulla Shahid, President of the UN 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; and Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme.

UNCCD COP15 is the first of the three Rio Conventions’ meetings in 2022, with the Biodiversity COP15 and Climate Change COP27 convening later in Kunming, China, and Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, respectively.

Among the Abidjan programme highlights announcement of the Abidjan Legacy Programme by the President of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, on the first day, focusing on job creation and the restoration of degrading land in the West African nation.

The UNCCD is the global vision and voice for land.

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