The virtual 19th session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 19) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) opened Monday to assess progress towards implementing the Convention since the last session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) in 2019.
Welcoming participants, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw remarked that while the ongoing global pandemic has forced us apart, it has also strengthened understanding of the importance of healthy land to humanity. He stressed that “even if our work has become more difficult” UNCCD stakeholders must redouble their efforts to protect, manage, and restore the land, especially in view of the upcoming COP 15, as well as launch of the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030).
In opening statements, representatives of regional groups, civil society, and international observers highlighted, among other issues:
- the huge loss of lives and livelihoods caused by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic;
- the strong link between land restoration and human health;
- the importance of strengthening the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Target-Setting Programmes, including their effective monitoring and reporting; and
- the need to take into account different country contexts in funding implementation of the Convention, particularly during a health crisis.
Speakers also welcomed the Intergovernmental Working Group’s (IWG) report on effective policy and implementation measures for addressing drought under the UNCCD, and called for greater engagement with civil society organizations and local communities as important stakeholders in achieving LDN.
In other discussions, delegates considered a report of the UNCCD’s Global Mechanism on countries’ voluntary LDN target-setting processes, as well as additional support for the early-stage development of LDN transformative projects and programmes. They broadly welcomed financial and technical assistance provided to countries and regions, but stressed that to achieve the LDN target, there is need for, inter alia, increasing financial flows, strengthening monitoring capacities at the national and regional levels, and enhancing synergies with the other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).