COP 15 : World leaders at the Abidjan summit on desertification unanimously agree time to safeguard the future of land is now

Heads of States and governments at the fifteenth session of the Conference of Parties(COP15) of
the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) have made a clarion call to
the international community to take urgent measures to avert loss of live and source of livelihood
threatening the world today as result of the devastating effects of desertification, land
degradation and drought.
Speaking at the Heads of States summit before the opening of the COP 15, the President of Cote
D’Ivoire His Excellency Alassane Ouattara declared « Our summit has to be one of hope, collective
mobilisation of States and developmental partners in favour of initiatives that restore the land and
reconstitute the forestry patrimony of our nations. We have to use all the resources of our
convention to respond to food needs for the population of the world which is steadily increasing »
Madame Amina Mohammed, Deputy Vice-Secratary general of the United Nations insisted on the
need of securing a sustainable and inclusive future « We are halfway to the Sustainable
Development Goals which remains our best hope for building a sustainable and inclusive future.
The ground under our feet is the perfect foundation on which to build that future »
Speaking at the summit, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid
pointed out the crucial role of land in attaining the 2030 sustainable development goals
« Productive land is essential for global food security and ecosystem health, as well as for
maintaining stable livelihoods. This is a prerequisite for the success of the 2030 agenda for
sustainable development, progress on the Rio conventions on biodiversity and climate change and
the fight against land and sea pollution.
On his part, the Secretary General of UNCCD, M. Ibrahim Thiaw, noted « The moment has come
for us to act.There will be no future for our children nor the planet if we maintain the status quo.
COP15 is a moment for us to make history as a global community to put the people and planet on
a new oath, on the path of life, to recover from the trials of COVID 19 and to move towards
prosperity. Decisions arrived at here at COP15 must be transformative in order to achieve land
restoration and drought resilience the world dreams of »
The summit concluded with the adoption of the Abidjan Call which urges nations to give utmost
priority to the isdueof drought and strengtgening the commitment to achieve land degradation
neutrality by 2030.
The leaders’ call to action responds to an urgent warning from the UNCCD that nearly 40% of
land is already degraded, with disastrous consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods.

The status quo will by 2050 lead to a degradation of 16 million square kilometers (almost the size
of South America) with 69 gigatonnes of carbon emited into the atmosphere. Whereas, land
restoration would help reduce the 700 million people at risk of being displaced
President Ouattara also announced the Abidjan initiative dubbed ‘Abidjan Legacy ». This
ambitious program aims to enable Côte d’Ivoire to integrate into its development strategies,
approaches for sustainable soil management and the restoration of severely degraded forest
ecosystems and will require for it’s implementation, the mobilisation of 1.5 $ billion over the next
five years. Among the first commitments made during the summit to achieve this goal are those of
the African Development Bank, the European Union, the Green Growth Initiative and the World
Bank Group.

By Regina Leke Tandag*
Environmental and Development News Reporter at Canal 2 International

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