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CSO Final Declaration Friday 27th September


participating in the eleventh session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

16–27 September 2013, Windhoek, Namibia 


1. We, the civil society organizations (CSOs), meeting in Windhoek on the occasion of the eleventh session of the Conference of Parties (COP 11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), wish to thank the Government and people of Namibia and the secretariat for the successful organization of the COP.

2. During the COP, we the CSOs have engaged in the deliberations of the conference and have taken note that a number of issues of concern to us remained to be addressed.

3. The civil society urges country Parties to take a people-centred, bottom-up approach to the concept of a land degradation neutral world to ensure that this initiative contributes to improving living conditions of people living in drylands.

4. CSOs are not generally against the observer status of the private sector. CSOs strongly disagree with taking agribusiness companies producing genetically modified organisms and having patents on living organisms on board. Strong criteria based on sustainability principles are needed for obtaining observer status. Private sector activities should be consistent with the objectives of the UNCCD and 10 Year Strategy, and avoid the conflict of interest.

5. We consider that mining is one of the main drivers of land degradation. Mining must not be allowed in national parks, protected areas and other sensitive dryland ecosystems. In communities where mining is already happening, compensation for the loss of land must be paid to all affected people including indigenous and traditional communities. Mine closure plans and funds for the rehabilitation of mining sites must be enforced.

6. Regarding the roster of independent experts, it should be extended to include all components of civil society, indigenous and local community expertise. In order to avoid bureaucracy, such experts should not have to go through a national focal point in order to be enlisted. We encourage Parties and the secretariat of the UNCCD to make the roster operational.

7. Proper land tenure should be granted to indigenous and traditional communities. This includes the rights to use their customary laws that they have been obeying since time immemorial. Governments must have the capacity to prevent land grabbing at the expense of communities.

8. CSOs are an important link between the international and grassroots level and can help disseminate good practices in desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) efficiently. Therefore we request the Parties to provide more financial support for CSOs to build the capacities of local communities to document these good practices for the effective implementation of the 10-year strategic plan and framework to enhance the implementation of the Convention (2008–2018).

9. The empowerment of women and youth by making basic services available, such as education, clean water, energy and food production are essential ingredients to enhance the resilience of local and especially, indigenous communities. There is a need for increased recognition of indigenous people as a constituency in the UNCCD process.

10. We welcome the Turkish Government’s offer to host the next Conference of Parties, COP 12, in 2015.

11. We strongly urge Canada to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the Convention and to come back as soon as possible in the interest of sustainable world.

12. We congratulate Luc Gnacadja, the outgoing Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, for his tremendous work during his tenure of office, and welcome the incoming Executive Secretary Monique Barbut and wish her a successful tenure. We expect her to strongly support CSO engagement in the activities of UNCCD, particularly in attending international meetings and events related to DLDD. We are looking forward to fruitful collaboration with her and the secretariat at all levels.

13. We, CSOs, reaffirm our commitment to the success of this Convention for the benefits of communities, particularly those affected by desertification, land degradation and drought.

We thank you.

Statement of the Civil Society after the end of the High Level Session at COP11

We, the civil society, see that the focus of the Parties should be tackling the major drivers of land degradation. There has been little discussion about mining industry, deforestation and large scale agriculture. Distinguished delegates, we want to see the action of your governments to set limits for these major drivers of land degradation.

To end land degradation we need strong and democratic governments to govern the use of the scarce land resources and to ensure rights to land for people nurturing it. Effective cooperation between agricultural, forest, environmental, economic, industrial, and development sectors is needed. Synergy of the three Rio conventions needs to be achieved.

Without secure land and DLDD community land rights, it is not only difficult to replicate good practices; there is no incentive to replicate. It is an undeniable fact that issues can only be scaled up if there is interest and political will to do that. We appeal to our Honourable Ministers to take up the issues of DLDD to highest political levels at national levels.

We, the civil society, are committed to work on combating desertification and land degradation on all levels. We urge the Parties to ensure that UNCCD only engages with business and industry entities that are committed to sustainable livelihoods of people in dryland communities and to healthy ecosystems.

The civil society wants to remind the Parties that this convention is about land. We, the civil society, want to see a clear roadmap to the end of land degradation and the Parties committing to it.

Thank you Chair.

Delivered by Fathima Noura

CSO Statement at the High-Level Segment Round Table 2 Tuesday 24th September

Some good practices for addressing DLDD in communities which when disseminated can catalyse scale-up among people affected by DLDD. However, how to document the good practices is a problem to communities. This means that the communities and people having good practices need capacity to document them. Addressing the capacity needs means that there is the need for financial resources to do this. In reality, we cannot expect dissemination of good practices without putting resources into it.

The quest for scale up and dissemination of good practices calls for a strong partnership between scientists and traditional and indigenous knowledge practitioners. This is because traditional and indigenous knowledge has proved to be a huge potential for aggressing DLDD issues, and examples exists, some of which were articulated even in this High-Level Segment. Therefore, researchers need to do more investigation into traditional and indigenous knowledge and DLDD. Indeed, research will be relevant if it addresses the interest of communities particularly those affected by DLDD. Without secure land and DLDD community land rights, it is not only difficult to replicate good practices; there is also no incentive to replicate.

The fact that DLDD issues are not highly prioritised in the countries creates a hurdle for scaling up and dissemination of good practices. It is an undeniable fact that you can only scale up an issue if you are first of all interested in it – this is a reality. We appeal to our Honourable Ministers to take up the issues of DLDD to highest political levels at national levels. This holds key to unlock the hurdles the hurdles associated with scaling up and disseminating good practices at local, national and international levels.

Due to time restrictions this got not delivered

Statement at the end of roundtable III 24th September

Not acting will cost more than acting!

During the round table III on the theme “Economics of desertification/land degradation and restoration: considering cost-benefit analyses for scaling up investment in avoiding land degradation and restoring/regenerating degraded land” Mrs. Ndèye Fatou Faye from ENDA-Senegal made a statement on behalf CSOs.

The arable land is decreasing at a rate of about 5 to 10 million ha per year. Desertification and land degradation are global problems, environmental and economic issues which affects all countries, both developing and developed. The actual costs of land degradation are still poorly known. Indeed, only exist estimates cost of losses caused by the process.

A global assessment estimates the economic costs about U.S. $ 64 billion / year. At national level, the economic cost is estimated between 1 and 9% of agricultural GDP, which is high. The arable land is decreasing at a rate of about 5 to 10 million ha per year, while population continues to increase and the climate change is impacting on yields.
It is important to also mention the social costs, even if they are also difficult to assess. Societies, women, children and old people are kept in a path of poverty and lack of dignity.
Also, natural resources, water, land and the few agricultural areas that remain become sources of conflict, which induced instability and increases food insecurity.

Thus, whatever accurate approach is used to evaluate, we must be aware that land degradation, desertification, have no other real costs that the cost of living and survival!
All countries should then feel concern and get involved as much as possible in combating land degradation and undertake initiatives and appropriate measures

It is true that we do not know the precise costs of land degradation, but we know and are sure that inaction will cost more than action! Most of our policy-makers were until recently insensitive to land degradation. In some countries, the agricultural sector has contributed significantly to land degradation due to agricultural policies which prioritizes cash crops such as peanut monoculture.

Moreover, it is never too late! Our governments in collaboration with CSOs should strengthen the implementation of projects and programs to restore these degraded lands. Communities should be trained to practice sustainable agriculture among others crop rotation, fallow, establishment of hedges to reduce wind effects and water erosion through agroforestry.

We must all mobilize and increase investment to promote innovative solutions
CSOs are trying to promote ecosystem services, which have many important socio-economic and environmental impacts and could constitute the bases for sustainable development. CSOs recognize that efforts are being made! However investments are still insufficient and do not allow large-scale interventions. Parties, partners and CSOs must all mobilize and increase investment to promote innovative solutions, interventions, best practices related to the fight against land degradation and actions to restore lands already degraded but which can still be productive.

Role of civil society and communities’ involvement In this fight, all stakeholders must get involved because each of us has a key role. Communities have endogenous knowledge however there is a need to share and promote this knowledge. In that point, only, CSOs that are working closely with these communities could help to improving and disseminating these good practices in collaboration with researchers and scientists.

States are the key actors for scaling up through the development of appropriate policies which take into account different specificities. Finally, a responsible private sector which is aware of the key issues in combating DLDD and is committed to contributing to sustainable development can be a key actor and could provide financial support.
Solutions exist but we need to explore and use them.

Delivered by Ndye Fatou Faye

Statement at the opening of the high-level segment Monday Sep 23th

Thank you very much for giving the CSOs the opportunity to speak about the very important matter of combatting desertification, land degradation and drought.

I would like to speak to you about the drivers of land degradation. In all the discussions here in Windhoek and in all the documents prepared for this COP, the specific drivers of land degradation are hardly mentioned. Yes, it is mentioned that the drivers of land degradation can be both natural and human induced and sometimes even agriculture is mentioned. But the discussion around which types of agriculture are driving land degradation and which are contributing to sustainable land management is completely absent from the agenda. And at the same time we all know that land degradation is not caused by millions of small scale farmers and pastoralists.

It is caused by unsustainable monocultures for short time gains, where abundant pesticides and patented expensive seeds are being used that destroy the natural nutrient cycles of soil. It is a myth that food security will be provided by agribusiness companies, as 70 %of the food in the world is produced by small scale farmers, mostly women. An investment in supporting their practices has great potential to fulfill our right to food.

Another driver that we should be talking about is land tenure and about the fact that many land users do not have secure land rights. When you don‘t know if you can use the land the coming next years, as a farmer, you will be hesitant to invest in sustainable land management, like planting trees, improving soil fertility and other practices that will only be profitable in the long term. In addition, securing land rights gives small scale farmers the opportunity to access important financial services to make these long term investments that are necessary for sustainable land management. In this regards, the voluntary guidelines for the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forest of the UN Committee on World Food Security is an excellent starting point for discussion.

Civil society notes with great concern that land degradation and sustainable and management are two topics that are not high on the national and international political agendas. In addition, the few initiatives that are taken, are not backed by financial resources of the Parties. We as civil society feel that these issues should be the highest priority, as land is the basis for all life and provides the food for people.

The Rio+20 summit attempted to put these issues higher on the agenda through the introduction of the concept Land Degradation Neutral World. Yet, this concept is not fully defined and is open to different interpretations. This means that countries can claim that they are land degradation neutral, while large scale degradation is still ongoing. And most importantly, where are the people in this concept? Where is the voice of local people in dryland communities? Let’s not only talk about land degrdation, we need to remember that there are people living on these lands and who are depending on it.

And now I come to our conclusions.

The UNCCD is full of knowledge and resources that should be more actively used by the parties. We, civil society, urge parties to secure the independence of the convention by ensuring that accredited observers are committed to sustainable livelihoods of people in dryland communities AND to healthy ecosystems that can support the right to food of the next generations.

And finally, we urge parties to take into account local realities by recognizing the important role and innovative power of local communities in sustainable land management and food security and provide them the adequate financial support to invest in theirs and our common future.

That is the future we want.

Delivered by Nathalie van Haren, Both ENDS

Statement at the end of Round Table I September 23rd


Excellences Mesdames et Messieurs les Ministres, Chers Délégués,

Nous souhaitons rappeler que la Convention est un instrument de solidarité internationale au service des peuples des zones arides. A travers elle, les populations mandatent les Etats dans la Lutte Contre la Désertification, pour trouver des solutions durables à leurs préoccupations quotidiennes. A ce titre, le concept de Zéro Net Land Dégradation, s’il sonne comme un mot d’ordre rassembleur, est loin d’être clair sur le plan opérationnel. Ce dernier plan nous concerne au plus haut point.

Aussi, la société civile émet des réserves quand aux possibilités d’apparition d’un nouveau marché où s’échangeraient des droits à la dégradation, et des crédits de restauration des terres ! De quelles unités territoriales parlons-nous ? Quels sont les indicateurs permettant de transcrire les réalités de terrain en données de monitoring ? Qui doit réaliser et prendre en charge ces mesures ? Autant de questions pour lesquelles la société civile attend encore des réponses, et sur lesquelles nous souhaitons aujourd’hui vivement attirer votre attention.

Le dernier sommet sur le développement durable (RIO+20) a tracé la voie du « futur que nous voulons ». Avec le chantier Zéro Net Land Dégradation, la convention Désertification doit ouvrir la porte au dialogue et inviter les autres conventions autour de la table des négociations car :

  • pour nous, un monde à dégradation neutre implique la protection de la biodiversité animale et végétale, et des savoir-faire qui leurs sont associés
  • pour nous, un monde à dégradation neutre implique une réduction et une meilleure maîtrise des émissions de gaz polluants et de leur stockage.

Ces deux sujets nous ramènent au cœur de la problématique de la gestion durable des terres et donc aux fondements de la présente convention.

Pour nous enfin, un monde à dégradation neutre implique que les 3 conventions s’appuient sur un socle commun, qui est l’avenir que nous voulons pour les générations futures, et qui est la transformation profonde des rapports entre l’homme, les institutions humaines et l’environnement.
Excellences, Mesdames et messieurs les Ministres, chers Délégués, à travers vous, la convention doit contribuer à l’élaboration d’une vision renouvelée de l’agriculture de demain, et rompre avec les visions inadéquates de la révolution verte en mettant en avant les agricultures innovantes et respectueuses de l’environnement telles que l’agro-écologie.
Nous ne pouvons pas engager le changement pour demain si nous continuons à penser comme hier!
Je vous remercie

Delivered by Athanase Fidèle Kaboré, RéSaD/SPONG-Burkina Faso