DECLARATION BY CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
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.