Mr Chair, Dear delegates of the Parties, dear colleagues of the UNCCD, ladies and gentlemen,
The CSOs that took part in COP12 are pleased to take the floor and share the views and concerns of the accredited CSOs to the UNCCD, and indeed of the wider CSO community.
Firstly, we have to thank those Parties that have enabled support for the participation of 35 CSOs by providing funding for the UNCCD, and enabled the selection of these observers by a panel, based on specific criteria. The process of selection and effective work undertaken before and during the COP enabled more contributions of substance to be made from civil society than has been the case in the past.
The discussions at COP12 have taken place in the context of emergent global challenges in an era in which humanity is endangering the ecosystems on which we all depend. This demonstrates that a change of trajectory which arises in the minds of people, and is informed by some indisputable facts. Those who in the past thought themselves immune to environmental disasters elsewhere in the planet are rediscovering they are part of a human community that has to face its destiny. Our awareness of a world with finite limits is a necessary element for our effective cooperation to conserve its scarce resources.
It is the responsibility of this Convention and thus our collective responsibility to ensure that the people of the drylands do not become the victims of the ultimate injustice of human-induced calamities that would add to the precariousness of natural conditions.
Among these challenges food security is paramount, as without it human dignity is impossible. In a world of enormous means, it is no longer acceptable that a significant part of the population lacks access to the food they need for survival. The populations of drylands are among the most vulnerable and therefore should have priority consideration by the international community.
The issue of inequality among women and men as was discussed at the Rio Pavilion during Gender Day undoubtedly remains one of the most deeply rooted problems in our societies. We must overcome these inequities and support the women of the world more effectively, particularly those in drylands, who each day pay too high a price for their motherhood, the food security for their families, and the terrible strain of the on-going quest for water and food.
Peace and security are increasingly threatened by the ungoverned appetites of a few: for political power, for wealth, for military dominance or for religious domination, all of which will lead us to certain ruin. The long lines of refugees and migrants crowding parts of the world, often originating from degraded lands, are our responsibility. They are our children, whether we want them or not.
Mr President let us return to the work of the Conference of the Parties and appreciate its good organization that has enabled the civil society organizations to fully participate.
We note that the contact groups that were established in the early stages of this COP operated exclusively in English and did not allow the systematic presence of CSOs. This is not in keeping with the spirit of participation of which the UNCCD should be the champion.
Regarding the CST, CSOs recall that they played an important role in improving the efficiency of the Committee and have contributed local and traditional knowledge in order to strengthen links between technology and policy making, particularly in the crucial fields of sustainable land management, resilience and adaptation of communities. We want to thank the parties who supported this view in decision-making.
Regarding the round tables of the High-level segment CSOs appreciated the intention of arriving at a more fruitful discussion in this segment rather than a series of statements. However facilitation arrangements should lead to more interactivity.
During the High Level Segment, the CSO community was invited to organize a dialogue on the burning issue of land rights. On that occasion, it drew the attention of country Parties to the fact that it is time to take action to adequately address recognition of land rights of land using communities by implementing, inter alia the following:
- Securing land rights as a prerequisite to achieving LDN
- Securing land tenure systems for the drylands through locally appropriate, participatory and multi-stakeholder processes that take into account the dynamic nature of the dryland ecology and also take into consideration the dynamic nature of the multiple land uses of dryland communities.
- Providing government recognition of the ownership and control of land by indigenous peoples and local communities.
- Recognizing the collective rights of land users, especially with regard to the livelihoods of pastoralists, indigenous peoples and women, as a first step to supporting community-based management systems to prevent degradation and restore land
- Giving equitable access and rights to land to men and women, especially vulnerable and indigenous peoples, in order to eradicate poverty.
- Tackling the weak governance and corruption endemic to the land governance system, which in many countries favour the status quo and harm the interests of poor people.
- Democratizing and securing land rights so as to ensure the continued sustainable management of natural resources, and to sustain the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities.
- Restoring degraded lands that are used by land-insecure communities in ways that avoid land grabbing, but rather improved tenure security, especially for indigenous p
- Developing legal principles and guidelines for ensuring social protection, food security, security of indigenous peoples and local communities, land tenure, ecological integrity, transparency and accountability, in order to overcome social and historical inequities.
Mr President, CSOs present at COP12 welcomed the adoption of the land degradation neutrality and believe that this is a potentially powerful concept for ensuring that the land sector is understood not only as part of the problem, but as part of the solutions in the crucial debate on climate change. In the context of the Sustainable Development Goal 15 and its Target 15.3, we urge Parties, donors and international organizations to integrate it in any policy or action to address climate change, any development action and any action concerning agriculture.
The CSOs urge the CST and SPI as well as scientists around the world to define and agree upon a universal definition of LDN and its scope, and its benchmarks and indicators at all levels from global to local.
In order to deliver real benefits to people and planet, LDN must not:
- lead to trade-offs that would lead to sustainable development being compromised to conserve the environment;
- result in resources being used inefficiently to restore degraded landscapes when they can be used more efficiently to conserve landscapes that are not yet degraded;
- create ‘rights’ to degrade through off-set mechanisms;
- lead to the degradation of water resources;
- undermine the rights of land users, especially in the lands used by communities;
- lead to land grabbing or land transfer;
- undermine the land rights of landless farmers, pastoral communities and indigenous land users..
In this context, any funds that are mobilized must be specifically targeted and must governed transparently and not left in the hands of the private sector, which is driven by the profit motive.
Mr President, Mrs, distinguished delegates,
In all cases, neutrality in terms of land degradation must first serve the populations that the Convention is intended to protect. It should offer these nearly two billion people opportunities for productive work and better incomes, in ways that can make them proud of their contribution to two major issues of global concern: climate change and poverty, and bolster their rights to benefit from the land.
Delivered by Serkan Aykut of the Foresters’ Association of Turkey on behalf of CSOs