The Asia-Pacific region’s stance for more urgency to be placed on advancing sustainable land management on a global scale was highlighted during the 14th Session of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Conference of Parties (COP 14).

While delivering the Asia-Pacific regions statement during the UNCCD COP 14 opening session of High-Level Segment Meeting in New Delhi, India, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy said bold steps needed to be taken to implement outcomes from the Convention.

“As a region, the Asia-Pacific acknowledges the immense effort by UNCCD in the advancement of sustainable land management (SLM) to rehabilitate, restore and reverse land degradation.

“The end goal, of course, is to protect our land, from overuse and drought, so its physical capacity can sustain the steady provision of basic human necessities of which are food, water, and energy,” said Minister Reddy. Minister Reddy elaborated that as the world became more fragile against the effects of a changing climate, transformative change was crucial.

“The Convention must grow and so must the efforts of Parties to increase and renew their commitment to good land stewardship that helps people, communities and countries create wealth, grow economies and secure sufficient food, clean water, and energy by ensuring land users an enabling environment for SLM.

“Desertification, land degradation and drought is a result of various factors including climatic variations and human activities, and while climate change affects the whole world, it is the poorest that suffer the most of which the majority and our region is believed to be homed to the majority of these most affected and deprived populations of basic necessities in life,” said Minister Reddy.

“The farmers, particularly in marginalized dryland in arid and semi-arid regions of Asia as well as affected countries by land degradation in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), have been experiencing for years the threat of desertification, land degradation, drought and climate change to their lives,” he added. He said Asia-Pacific acknowledged that to address these challenges, the key was to implement integrated land use planning respecting connectivity of Nature and to optimize land use and interventions to avoid, reduce and reverse the degraded land.

“Asia-Pacific highlights the key role of value chains based on land restoration and partnership building with private sectors for sustaining a stabilized ecosystem services with an improved livelihood. Minister Reddy also stated that the region was satisfied that further scientific support to drought effects mitigation and land degradation neutrality implementation had both been included in the science and policy interface work programme.

“We welcome the momentum created around the discussion on enabling policies related to drought, sand and dust storms, migration, land tenure, and Gender. However, we must re-emphasize that policies are to enable implementation and support actions. “They need to adapt to different national circumstance, especially in the movement of next UN decades for ecosystem restoration for achieving a land degradation neutrality world,” he said.

The UNCCD COP 14 will address critical gaps in land management and planning as well as practical actions to ensure countries achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by delivering tools and resources that are fit for purpose. The Conference was held from 2nd – 6th September 2019, followed by the High-Level Segment two-day meeting where more than 100 Ministers are in attendance.