COP15: A New Land Restoration Financing Mechanism

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification proposes that countries of the planet use a fifth of their taxes and levies, collected to subsidize certain products, to reclaim their lands. This new mechanism was unveiled in Abidjan by the Executive Secretary of the Arab Republic of Egypt. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Ibrahim Thiaw, during a press briefing on the occasion of the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties.

There are two sources of funding that we see on our side, the first is reducing harmful subsidies. He pointed out that citizens pay a lot of subsidies through taxes and levies that are used to subsidize some products.

In addition, “these are sometimes subsidies that are harmful to nature, biodiversity and climate. What we are proposing is that only 1/5 of these grants be reused positively to restore (degraded) lands.”

He said before hinting that the second source of funding is mainly directed to the private sector, because the companies are making the products, “so, we are not asking for additional money as a citizen.”

He went on to say that large companies should “think long-term, rather than short-term, focusing on management rather than exploitation”, while providing financial support to small farmers to restore their natural environment.

Ambassador Philippe Lacoste, present at this press conference, headed the French and European delegations. At the 15th United Nations Conference of the Parties on Desertification and Drought, France holds the presidency of the European Union.

He explained, “France is particularly attached to this agreement because it was signed in Paris in 1994, and therefore we consider that we have some form of responsibility in following up and implementing it like the Paris climate agreement.

Mr. Lacoste revealed that this agreement was coveted by African countries, who insisted in Rio that we have this “tool of international cooperation”. For France, this conference is the time to discuss a certain number of initiatives that it has launched.

He noted that these include the acceleration of the Great Green Wall, which is intended for 11 countries in the Sahel region, and the initiative to support the production of vegetable proteins, launched at the EU-African Union summit in February, for domestic production and consumption.

The European Union emphasizes agricultural production linked to the good health of the land and soil, and “together with all my European colleagues, we are taking advantage of this agreement to try to get concrete answers that go to a more sustainable process,” he said.

Globally, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Ibrahim Thiaw noted that 40% of land is already degraded, twice the size of Africa.

Mr. Thiaw emphasized that the planet’s land is currently experiencing a very high level of degradation which is mainly due to our production and consumption patterns.

“We have exploited the Earth and over the past 100 years there has been tremendous economic growth all over the world and we are paying the price now. We have destroyed nearly 40% of the land on this planet.

“If things continue as they are, with the trends we know, by the middle of this century, so in less than 30 years, up to 90% of the world’s land could be affected by degradation, and that is not sustainable,” he warned.

To do this, he will recommend, that we should “revise our production methods” by adapting new technologies and methods of agricultural and livestock production as well as interaction with water resources, as well as forests and consider recycling clothing.

“So far, a third of the food produced is not consumed (in the world) and millions of tons of food, and therefore thousands of hectares of land and water are wasted,” he continued.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification aims to restore one billion hectares of degraded land by 2030. At this 15th COP, about 6,000 participants registered over the weekend, 4,000 of whom have already collected their badges.

The Fifteenth Conference of the Parties is taking place against the backdrop of dire warnings from the United Nations. The decisions should lead to the Abidjan Initiative, a set of programs aimed at combating desertification.

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