More than 170 countries have agreed that renewable energy is a key solution to combat desertification around the world.
BONN, Germany – Delegates to the fourth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) approved a Declaration of commitments to enhance special efforts to combat desertification and to mitigate the effects of drought by the end of this decade in order to address the severe situation prevailing in various affected developing countries, particularly Africa. They expressed concern that, despite important efforts made by all interested partners, adequate financial and other resources have not yet been mobilized, thus constraining the ability of affected developing countries to fulfil their commitments under the Convention. All nations must implement financial measures and action at all levels, including development of new and renewable energy sources; sustainable land use management, development of sustainable agricultural and ranching production systems, launching of reforestation and soil conservation programs, and development of early warning systems for food security and drought forecasting. “The review of reports represents a most important accomplishment of this conference as reports reflect the enormous efforts made by affected countries to combat desertification,” said Hama Arba Diallo, executive secretary of UNCCD. “We have heard many positive statements, I believe that we have seen the expression of political good will, but we are now looking forward to seeing good will translate into concrete action.” Delegates agreed to explore options to enhance support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in assisting countries affected by desertification, and highlighted the need to support the fund and the decision already taken by its Council to increase support for countries affected by desertification and drought. During the 12 day meeting, delegates reviewed more than 150 reports submitted in the past two years on the issue, and were told that countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Northern Mediterranean have adopted a National Action Programme to Combat Desertification. Affected countries emphasized the need for predictable financial support, enhanced cooperation between the North and the South, and the possibility of increasing access to GEF funds to support programs to combat desertification. Delegates will meet again next spring, before the next session of the Conference in September, to continue the review of reports. “Time to act is now,” said Diallo. “People worldwide have been losing their arable land, their sources of income. Action is possible, and the necessary steps have been identified. But the more we wait, the more opportunities we lose, and there is no reason why we should lose them.” Drought and desertification seriously threaten the livelihoods of 1.2 billion people around the world who depend on the land for their needs. The Convention is a legally binding instrument resulting from the Rio Conference on Environment & Development of 1992. It entered into force in 1996 and 172 countries are currently Parties.