Photo: "The way to deliver multiple benefits is Land Degradation Neutrality," says UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary Pradeep Monga addressing the 16 May event. Credit; UNCCD. - Photo: 2017

Connecting the Dots Between Climate and Land

By Jaya Ramachandran

BONN (IDN) – Two important United Nations conventions and civil society representatives availed of the climate conference in Bonn to get together and reflect on how to connect the dots between the challenging agendas on climate and land by deliberating on: “Why land degradation neutrality matters for climate?”

The two conventions with headquarters in Bonn, the capital of post-war West Germany until reunification of two German states in 1990, are the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The city hosts some 20 UN agencies and secretariats meanwhile.

The evet was organised by the UNCCD and UNFCCC on May 16 jointly with the Government of the Republic of Korea. The panelists were representatives from the Dominican Republic, Ghana and the Philippines, which are steadily advancing in the implementation of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement and the achievement of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).

The discussion focused on how commitments, policies and implementation under the different frameworks of action of the three Rio Conventions can programmatically deliver breaking the silos and fragmented landscape of governance and investments in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The three Rio conventions emerging from the Earth Summit in June 1992 are in addition to the UNCCD and UNFCCC the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The conversation particularly focused on the role of LDN as a powerful tool to deliver multiple benefits, including climate change. “The sustainable management of land and its rehabilitation are key factors for closing the emissions gap and staying within the agreed temperature limit of the Paris Agreement,” stressed Keum Chang Rok, Consul General of the Government of South Korea (Republic of Korea).

UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary Pradeep Monga said the importance of land has gained political recognition over the years as championed by countries like the Republic of Korea and others. By quoting a famous proverb, “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” he stressed the clear will of all the stakeholders from the outset for achieving the land degradation neutrality. He further said that now we have found the way to do this effectively and deliver on multiple benefits. To date, 107 countries have committed to translate the global LDN target into country specific actions.

Asher Nkegbe from Ghana emphasized that even though agendas such as climate change, reduction of emissions and LDN are “conceptual frameworks” for global action, at local level food security; jobs and livelihoods is what matters. Those are the tangible benefits where the synergies between climate and land action need to deliver effectively. “The economic argument of land degradation is what mobilizes national politicians,” stressed Nkegbe. 

Nick Nuttall, Coordinator of Communications and Outreach of the UNFCCC, highlighted that important global transformations have taken place in the last decades such as the penetration of renewable energy. However, more action is still needed in transforming the way we interact with ecosystems at the scale and level required. “The Paris Agreement lays out a long-term destination, which is climate neutrality, an aim which cannot be achieved without also attaining LDN,” said Nuttall.

Dominga Polanco from the Dominican Republic and Samuel M. Contreras from the Philippines pointed to the strong interlinkages between their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) targets and land, and how LDN represents one of the most cost efficient pathways to deliver on their NDCs and multiple SDGs. 

“Sustainable land management to reduce and minimize land degradation is strongly linked to the climate change adaptation and reducing GHG emissions”, stressed Samuel M. Contreras from the Philippines.

There appeared to be a consensus that the scale of the challenge does not allow to keep working in silos. Markus Repnik, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD concluded the event, emphasizing that it doesn’t matter whether projects are labeled as climate change or LDN – what matters are the outcomes. It is all about synergies and large-scale transformative projects that bundle resources from different actors. We live in a complex and fragmented development agenda. “We need to connect the dots one by one,” Repnik concluded. [IDN-InDepthNews – 19 May 2017]

Photo: “The way to deliver multiple benefits is Land Degradation Neutrality,” says UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary Pradeep Monga addressing the 16 May event. Credit; UNCCD.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. – 

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