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

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