CSO Opening Statement for COP14 Plenary
Mr. President, Executive Director of UNCCD, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends of the frontline for combating desertification
My name is Bhawani Kusum from Gram Bharathi Samiti, India, and I am honoured to speak on behalf of civil society organisations attending COP14. I have been advised that around 1000 delegates have registered as CSOs.
I would like to express our deep gratitude to the Government and people of India for hosting COP14, to the parties of the Convention and several funders that do allow our presence here, and to the Secretariat of the UNCCD for facilitating the whole.
Mr. President, when land is degraded, we all suffer the consequences. But some are more vulnerable than others. For the time being, a new category of vulnerable is rapidly increasing facing a burning world under thousands of forest fires, in Amazonia, in Congo and Angola. No doubt that they are mainly human induced and too often driven by large scale natural resources exploitation like industrial agriculture or mining. Our home is burning.
We are participating in this meeting to remind the delegates of the very real concerns of the people affected by land degradation, desertification and droughts. We urge the Parties to act in the best interests of the people and engage people on the ground so that they will be able to sustain their livelihood and build resilient future, at least to be able to expect any future for our children.
Droughts are becoming more extreme, and 12 million ha of productive land is lost to desertification each year. Climate-related natural disasters such as hurricanes reap an ever-growing toll, in particular on the poor and vulnerable. We all know that increasing trend in number and importance of these events that have already disastrous impacts on local livelihoods, food security, health, international stability and security, migrations, as reported in three major reports in 2019 by IPBES on biodiversity, HLPE on food security and IPCC on climate.
Mr President, dear participants, yesterday the Executive Secretary Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw addressed the CSOs by saying that we need to address the future with a radical change. Are we ready for that? Are we ready to accelerate our actions?
With regard to the agenda, the civil society organisations in this COP have agreed to bring five priorities to your attention.
- First: the recognition by policy makers, financial institutions and others that community-led initiatives are contributing to Land Degradation Neutrality.
- Second: land tenure security of communities in general, and of women, young people and vulnerable groups specifically must be secured through a UNCCD COP14 decision on implementation of Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests.
- Third: participation of civil society and especially women, youth, children throughout the decision-making processes regarding Land Degradation Neutrality target and National Drought Plans is crucial to guarantee sustainability.
- Fourth : finances must be accessible and appropriate for civil society organizations supporting communities especially women and young people in achieving LDN and/or monitoring the implementation of LDN projects.
- Fifth : transform our society so as to achieve greater sustainability and equity, especially gender equity.
We call upon the Parties to include these priorities of the CSOs in the COP 14 decisions.
From our experience, we do know that the solutions are available and they do exist. While preparing the COP14 in Ouagadougou in June 2019 during the 4th desertification CSOS forum, participants from more than 40 countries shared numerous initiatives on pastoralism, multiuse of water, solutions on land tenure, agroecology, Green Great Wall Initiative of Sahara and Sahel and others.
Mr. President, distinguished delegates, we the CSOs are committed to contribute ecosystem restoration and solving these problems. May we remind this assembly that we are ready and skilled for upscaling of these initiatives?
Working together is not an option while none of us is able alone standing to overcome the present situation. We must achieve pro-active engagement and equal participation of women, young people, children, indigenous communities, pastoralists, disabilities, marginalised groups, private sector and scientists and the civil society organisations to meet the SDG targets specially target 15 & 15.3 by 2030.
I would like before ending just to ask as if we lose our lands, how we will feed ourselves?
We wish you all a wonderful meeting and stay in the warm-hearted city New Delhi.