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A look back at the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Land Convention in Bonn

A look back at the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Land Convention in Bonn

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is celebrated every year on June 17. In 2024, this day also marked the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

On this occasion, CARI contributed to celebrations in Bonn, Germany and Brussels, Belgium.

Participation in the InfoPoint organized by the Belgian Presidency of the European Union

The Belgian Presidency of the European Union celebrated June 17, 2024 with a screening of an extract from the film “Le Périmètre de Kamsé”, directed by Olivier Zuchuat, which shows the struggle of the inhabitants of northern Burkina Faso to restore their land.

The screening was followed by a round-table discussion to which CARI contributed alongside the Belgian NGO Humundi, and institutional players: the European Commission, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Enabel.

During the round table, CARI spoke of the importance of stakeholder networks in improving the effectiveness of sustainable land management, and highlighted the achievements of the French Working Group on Desertification and The Sahel Desertification Network in terms of knowledge sharing and policy dialogue.

Humundi addressed the need for interventions to combat desertification to take a more holistic view, considering the interconnection of land, climate, biodiversity and food security issues.

CARI and Humundi took the opportunity of this round-table to present the Synthesis Note on the Recognition of Agroecology in the Rio Conventions, which they produced with Iles de Paix and the support of the Minka International network.

The event was attended by 30 people in the InfoPoints room and 30 people online. The video recording is available online: https://international-partnerships.ec.europa.eu/news-and-events/events/infopoint-conference-united-land-our-legacy-our-future-observing-desertification-and-drought-day-2024-06-17_en 

InfoPoints are open conferences organized by the European Union’s International Partnerships Direction. They can be attended in person in Brussels or online. To find out more: https://international-partnerships.ec.europa.eu/knowledge-hub/infopoint_en  

Meeting between European CSOs

CARI, with the support of Humundi, proposed a meeting of European international solidarity organizations, mobilized on the fight against desertification and the promotion of agroecology.

Representatives⸱e⸱s of the Agroecology Coalition, Humundi, Iles de Paix, Tree Aid attended the meeting, as did the Desertification Convention focal points for Belgium and the European Union.

The meeting provided an opportunity to consider the establishment of a concertation dynamic between European organizations around the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, in order to strengthen their dialogue with the European Parties.

A round-table discussion enabled each participant to present his or her experience of dialogue with public authorities and involvement in the Convention.

Afterwards, the participants brainstormed on the forms this dialogue could take in the coming months and the advocacy issues to be raised at the next Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP16 in December 2024).

Strengthening the synergy between the 3 Rio Conventions (Biodiversity, Climate, Desertification) emerged as a priority area of advocacy to improve the impact of the political orientations taken within these arenas. A number of recommendations were identified:

  • Synergy between the three conventions must be effective from the field to the global level. In 2024, the COPs of the three Conventions will be held, and it would be appropriate for countries to prepare collectively for all these meetings.
  • Agricultural and food systems could be the central focus of synergy between the three Conventions, and should initially be the subject of collective work by the three science-policy interfaces (IPCC-GIEC, IPBES, SPI).
  • The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is an advocacy target in need of further investment. This financial mechanism could also make a greater contribution to synergy between the 3 Conventions, through the funding of projects integrating the different targets, and proposing more holistic action.

Celebrating the anniversary of the Desertification Convention in Bonn, Germany

The Federal Republic of Germany took the initiative of organizing a celebration of the Convention’s thirtieth anniversary. CARI, represented by its president, was one of the guests at the Museum of Arts in Bonn, to attend a series of speeches by experts and artistic expressions – notably from Africa with Inna Modja and Baaba Mal – in support of the land.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres noted that “the three multilateral environmental agreements are all dedicated to promoting life, which cannot be done without safeguarding nature and the soil”. In his speech, Alain-Richard Donwahi (President of COP15) noted that approaches to action are still too sectoral, and that nothing is coordinated at ministerial level in the countries concerned. “While I was following the Climate Convention as a minister, I didn’t even know about the Convention to Combat Desertification”, a situation long denounced by CSOs. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, speaking on behalf of indigenous peoples, felt that “we shouldn’t ask populations to adapt to the conditions of donors, but that donors must adapt to meet the needs of populations”. Luc Gnacadja, former Executive Secretary, added that “investment strategies should be based on what people are doing on the ground, and above all support their courage and enthusiasm”.

Lastly, a representative of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, which has been following all the conventions since their inception, expressed the view that “action in the field and lobbying in the negotiations are two inseparable sides of the same coin, which is all too often deprived of the negotiating side in terms of financial support”. In this respect, this dual commitment has been part of CARI’s DNA since its inception.

In conclusion, Ibrahim Thiaw (Executive Secretary of the Convention) insisted that “we have never had so many tools and means to change things” and that “if one of the Conventions is a success, the others will be successes, we need to build bridges” and “not only think financing, but also investment”.

While this enthusiastic celebration was a high point of mobilization, it lacked a historical review of the Convention’s thirty-year trajectory, and a mention of the work of non-governmental organizations, which are crucial both in the field and in negotiations, and have often played a decisive role in advancing the Convention’s objectives, far from the podium and the spotlight.          

The Federal Republic of Germany took the initiative of organizing a celebration of the Convention’s thirtieth anniversary. CARI, represented by its president, was one of the guests at the Museum of Arts in Bonn, to attend a series of speeches by experts and artistic expressions – notably from Africa with Inna Modja and Baaba Mal – in support of the land.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres noted that “the three multilateral environmental agreements are all dedicated to promoting life, which cannot be done without safeguarding nature and the soil”. In his speech, Alain-Richard Donwahi (President of COP15) noted that approaches to action are still too sectoral, and that nothing is coordinated at ministerial level in the countries concerned. “While I was following the Climate Convention as a minister, I didn’t even know about the Convention to Combat Desertification”, a situation long denounced by CSOs. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, speaking on behalf of indigenous peoples, felt that “we shouldn’t ask populations to adapt to the conditions of donors, but that donors must adapt to meet the needs of populations”. Luc Gnacadja, former Executive Secretary, added that “investment strategies should be based on what people are doing on the ground, and above all support their courage and enthusiasm”.

Lastly, a representative of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, which has been following all the conventions since their inception, expressed the view that “action in the field and lobbying in the negotiations are two inseparable sides of the same coin, which is all too often deprived of the negotiating side in terms of financial support”. In this respect, this dual commitment has been part of CARI’s DNA since its inception.

In conclusion, Ibrahim Thiaw (Executive Secretary of the Convention) insisted that “we have never had so many tools and means to change things” and that “if one of the Conventions is a success, the others will be successes, we need to build bridges” and “not only think financing, but also investment”.

While this enthusiastic celebration was a high point of mobilization, it lacked a historical review of the Convention’s thirty-year trajectory, and a mention of the work of non-governmental organizations, which are crucial both in the field and in negotiations, and have often played a decisive role in advancing the Convention’s objectives, far from the podium and the spotlight.      

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