Building on a firm foundation: land and soil in the post-2015 development agenda

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Information about Building on a firm foundation: land and soil in the post-2015...
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Published on March 7, 2014

Author: LucGnacadja

Source: slideshare.net

Description

Unlike the climate change conference concluded last Nov (2013) in Warsaw, the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September generated few headlines. Yet the stories of the two processes are inextricably linked. As momentum towards a post-2015 development framework continues to accelerate, we would be well advised to revisit the relationship between climate change and desertification because, without protecting land and soils, all the best laid plans for coping with climate change will literally be swept from under our feet.

Building on a Firm Foundation: Land and Soils in the Post-2015 Development Agenda by: Luc Gnacadja, Former Executive Secretary, UNCCD posted on: Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 http://land-l.iisd.org/guest-articles/building-on-a-firm-foundation-land-and-soils-in-the-post-2015-development-agenda/ Unlike  the  recently  concluded  climate  change  conference  in  Warsaw,   the  11th  session  of  the  Conference  of  the  Parties  (COP  11)  to  the  UN  Convention   to  Combat  Desertification  (UNCCD)  in  September  generated  few  headlines.  Yet   the  stories  of  the  two  processes  are  inextricably  linked.  As  momentum  towards  a   post-­‐2015  development  framework  continues  to  accelerate,  we  would  be  well   advised  to  revisit  the  relationship  between  climate  change  and  desertification   because,  without  protecting  land  and  soils,  all  the  best  laid  plans  for  coping  with   climate  change  will  literally  be  swept  from  under  our  feet. Prior  to  COP  11,  which  also  marked  my  last  COP  as  UNCCD  Executive  Secretary,  we   marked  two  important  milestones.  The  first  was  the  inclusion  of  the  vision  of  striving   towards  a  land-­‐degradation  neutral  world  (LDNW)  in  the  Rio+20  outcome  document.   LDNW  requires  all  countries  to  prevent  or  avoid  the  degradation  of  healthy  and   productive  lands  through  sustainable  land  management  practices  and,  where  feasible,   regenerate  land  that  is  already  degraded.  The  aim  of  course  is  to  restore  more  than  we   degrade;  therefore,  this  vision  calls  for  a  goal  and  targets  in  order  to  reach,  as  soon  as   possible,  the  break-­‐even  point  between  degradation  and  restoration.  The  second   achievement  was  the  broad  consensus  that  was  reached  during  the  High-­‐Level  meeting   on  National  Drought  Policy,  which  convened  in  Geneva  in  February  2013,  calling  on  all   drought-­‐prone  countries  to  move  away  from  crisis  management  towards  preparedness   and  disaster  risk  management. At  COP  11,  a  key  area  of  debate  was  whether  the  scope  for  LDNW  and  its  related  goal,   targets  and  legal  instrument  should  be  restricted  to  drylands.  In  order  to  move  forward   on  this  issue  in  the  context  of  the  “The  Future  We  Want”  parties  decided  to  set  up  an   Intergovernmental  Working  Group,  whose  core  task  is  to  develop  options  for  achieving   land-­‐degradation  neutrality.  I  expect  this  discussion  will  also  include  proposing  practical   targets  for  countries,  with  a  strong  monitoring  component.  However,  for  a  LDNW  to   become  reality,  the  aspirations  expressed  in  the  five  paragraphs  (205–209)  of  the   Rio+20  outcome  document,  relating  to  drought,  land  degradation  and  desertification   (DLDD),  need  to  be  incorporated  in  the  broader  set  of  goals  and  actions  that  will  emerge   from  the  post-­‐2015  process. Linking  land  and  soils  to  other  sustainable  development  goals The  Rio+20  outcome  document  recognizes  the  economic  and  social  significance  of  good   land  management,  including  soil,  to  “economic  growth,  biodiversity,  sustainable   agriculture  and  food  security,  eradicating  poverty,  women's  empowerment,  addressing   climate  change  and  improving  water  availability.”

The  landscape  is  the  appropriate  scale  where  synergies  and  tradeoffs  in  making  policy   decisions  and  investments  on  each  of  those  eight  avenues  can  be  best  assessed,  as  well   as  options  for  transforming  tradeoffs  into  synergies  whenever  possible.  Many  have   therefore  called  for  a  stand-­‐alone  goal  as  a  way  to  promote  land  stewardship  in  the   nexus  of  the  sustainable  development  challenges  that  we  face. However,  giving  land  its  right  place  in  this  nexus  requires  overcoming  the  prevailing   culture  that  sees  nothing  wrong  in  sealing  off  precious  soil  through  urbanization,  or   dismissing  degraded  land  as  worthless.  The  Rio+20  outcome  document  provides  us  with   a  strong  rationale  for  making  this  paradigm  shift:  seeing  degraded  lands  as  scarce  but   underperforming  assets  that  need  investments  in  order  to  bring  them  back  to  suitable   productivity.  In  particular,  Paragraph  205  acknowledges  that  DLDD  is  hampering  the   sustainable  development  of  all  nations  of  the  world  and  Paragraph  207  notes  “…  the   importance  of  mitigating  the  effects  of  desertification,  land  degradation  and  drought,   including  by  preserving  and  developing  oases,  restoring  degraded  lands,  improving  soil   quality  and  improving  water  management.”  The  following  diagram  illustrates  how  such   a  paradigm  shift  could  yield  benefits  across  eight  key  policy  avenues. Making  it  happen:  first  steps By  approving  the  establishment  of  a  new  Science-­‐Policy  Interface,  and  advancing  its   iterative  participatory  process  to  refine  impact  indicators  and  monitor  progress,  the   UNCCD  has  put  in  place  the  infrastructure  for  setting  realistic  targets  for  LDNW  and   linking  land  targets  to  the  other  SDGs.  The  4th  Special  Session  of  the  UNCCD  Committee   on  Science  and  Technology  and  the  UNCCD  3rd  Scientific  Conference,  both  due  to  take  

place  in  early  2015,  will  provide  an  important  opportunity  to  assess  how  far  we've  come   in  understanding  the  links  between  DLDD,  poverty  reduction  and  sustainable   development.  The  preparatory  process  for  these  events  could  well  serve  as  a  test  run  for   linking  the  UNCCD  agenda  and  more  target-­‐setting  processes  in  the  two  other  Rio   Conventions. With  the  “silo  mindset”  that  often  prevails  over  intergovernmental  negotiations,  I  am   aware  that  competition  is  quite  fierce  among  sectors  regarding  possible  SDGs.  For  the   goals  to  be  universal  and  also  address  issues  of  poverty  and  resilience  in  an  increasingly   globalized  world,  they  should  also  aim  at  preserving  the  natural  capital  on  which  we  all   depend.  I  still  wonder  why  the  world  is  so  slow  to  act  upon  the  fact  that  eradicating  rural   poverty,  and  ensuring  sustainable  food,  water  and  bio-­‐energy  security  to  the  rural  poor   while  building  their  resilience  to  climatic  shocks  is  about  avoiding  the  degradation   and/or  ensuring  the  restoration  of  their  degraded  land  assets.  It  is  my  hope  that  the   process  towards  a  post-­‐2015  global  development  framework  will  not  be  a  missed   opportunity  to  take,  once  and  for  all,  land  out  of  the  international  community's  blind   spot.  

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