Land is the basis of life for all humanity. It is our primary source of food, shelter and income. Ensuring land tenure security improves the livelihoods of the poor by offering social, economic and environmental benefits.
Land degradation and desertification are advancing rapidly as observed by scientists and felt daily by land users. This has extreme consequences in terms of food security, food sovereignty and human security. For example, this year, in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, many lives have been lost because of climate change and human-induced land degradation. Many people have been displaced and become refugees. Similar tragedies happened in many countries around the world.
Millions of rural people still have limited or no access to, ownership and control over land while this is a precondition for improving living conditions and sustaining the land.
We have never been more vulnerable! Today, here in this COP13, we, Parties, civil society and other stakeholders have a unique opportunity to give hope, life and justice to these people. The voices and concerns of the people affected by land degradation and desertification must be heard and responded to.
For many years, CSOs have been contributing to sustainable land management by co-generating and disseminating successful practices. We have also promoted traditional, including indigenous peoples’ knowledge, engaged local communities, and enhanced the role and rights of women.
CSOs are committed to achieve the SDGs, particularly the 15.3. We have already been contributing to the LDN target through diverse activities to restore and maintain functional ecosystems. In this context, the evidence shows that land tenure security is a prerequisite for achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN). We embrace the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines (VGGT) for land tenure in this context.
We recognize the efforts made by the UNCCD Secretariat and the GM to access new financing streams, including private capital. We believe that LDN projects must achieve the highest human, social and environmental standards. The new funds should prioritize societies and ecosystems that are more exposed to the impacts of land degradation. The interests of pastoralists, small scale farmers, indigenous peoples, women and landless peasants who will be directly or indirectly affected by the funded projects must be protected.
Land degradation is recognized as a significant driver of migration and as a triggering factor of conflicts. Policies providing landless people with small-scale agricultural opportunities should be an important component of managing migrant and resettlement programs. For this reason, CSOs welcome the sustainability, stability and security (3S) initiative and call for its effective implementation.
We would like to emphasize that the Convention assigns CSOs specific roles and responsibilities for the implementation of the convention. However, we are deeply concerned that the New Strategy proposal does not mention CSOs. Furthermore, the recommendations of the CSO Panel in relation to lands rights, indigenous peoples and gender mainstreaming have not been reflected in the proposal of the New Strategy. We must work together to see more active and equal participation of CSOs as key allies in the work of the convention.
We call upon the Parties to adopt a COP decision on land rights that would ensure millions of small farmers, indigenous peoples, women and youth to have secure access to land. This is fundamental to achieve the goals of the Convention.