World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought: Review of Coordination Sud’s webinar
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World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought: Review of Coordination Sud’s webinar

Every year, June 17 is celebrated as World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. To mark the occasion, and in the wake of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, to be held in Abidjan in May 2022, Coordination SUD‘s Climate & Development Commission and CARI organized a webinar to take stock of this COP against desertification and drought. This virtual meeting provided an opportunity to cross the perspectives of research, civil society organizations and diasporas.

The first speaker was Mélanie Requier-Desjardins from the Centre international de hautes études agronomiques méditerranéennes (CIHEAM), also a member of the Pôle foncier. Although the land issue burst onto the scene at the third Rio Convention with the adoption of the concept of “neutrality with regard to land degradation” during COP12 in 2015, it has to be said that the decisions taken in this area since then remain weak. Land tenure remains absent from decisions concerning the work of the GEF, the body that finances projects to combat desertification. Land tenure is also outside the mandate of the science-policy interface, and consequently of the Science and Technology Committee, the scientific arm of the UNCCD. The researcher therefore wondered about the place left to scientific research in the Convention’s work today.

The second speaker was Mamadou Komé from the association INAGRIM, Initiative agricole pour le Mali en France, created by the Malian diaspora. He stressed the importance of involving the diaspora in the fight against desertification. Their involvement, and in particular the financial contributions they make to their countries of origin, could enable greater implementation of the Convention’s decisions (influence on local authorities and governments) and could also contribute to the fight against migration, via their support for entrepreneurship based on income-generating activities.

The final speaker, Yousra Abourabi, a researcher at Rabat University, emphasized the relevance of agroecological practices in combating desertification and drought, using the Avaclim project as an example. In her view, public players need to be better informed about what agroecology is and the positive impacts it can generate, so that climate financing can be better targeted towards this ecological transition in agriculture. The first step in this direction will be to teach agro-ecology to students at agricultural engineering schools, some of whom will one day be called upon to decide on the direction of such funding.

Finally, CARI has invited the world of research, civil society organizations and members of the diaspora involved in the fight against desertification and drought to Montpellier in October 2022, to meet and strengthen their advocacy of the links between land, biodiversity, climate and agroecology as part of Désertif’actions.

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