WINDHOEK – The United Nations Secretary–General Ban Ki-moon has pledged that the United Nations system stands ready to continue supporting Namibia’s efforts to mitigate the effects of the current drought and to build resilience.
In his message to the 11th Conference of Parties (COP11) to the United Nations Convection to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP11) read by Dr Veerle Vanderweerd, Director of the Energy and Environment Group of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) yesterday, the Secretary–General said desertification and land degradation threaten the livelihoods, well-being and sustainable development of at least one billion people around the world. “In the dry-lands of Africa, climate change is already having an impact. Temperatures have risen by some 2 degrees Celsius in some areas. Long periods of drought, famine and deepening poverty are impoverishing and depopulating vast areas,” he noted. “As we define the post-2015 development agenda, we need to be able to measure progress towards the commitment to halt and reverse land degradation. We need a paradigm shift to land stewardship. We need to work with countries and local communities to protect and sustain the world’s fragile dry-lands and restore degraded land,” stressed Ban Ki-moon.
Outgoing UNCCD Executive Secretary, Luc Gnacadja said land is often taken for granted even though it is the vital capital resource at the nexus of food, energy and water security, and very often the sole asset of the rural poor. “For present and future generations, we need to consider the impact of our land-use decisions and take account of the difficult trade-offs connected, both directly and indirectly, with natural resource management choices,” Gnacadja said. According to him, desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) processes are still accelerating at 36 times the historical rates and impeding sustainable development in all countries, especially developing ones.
Due to the prevailing paradigm of “degrade-abandon-mitigate,” today millions of square kilometres in the world bear a man-made legacy of degradation. As a result the world’s drylands are more vulnerable today than ever. “We are living in interactive ecosystems and land degradation and drought affect the very existence of our societies,” said Dr. Theo Ben Gurirab a veteran of the UNCCD process and Speaker of the Namibian Parliament during the round table discussion of parliamentarians. The parliamentarians committed themselves to keep their governments accountable on their obligations to effectively address DLDD issues.
By Albertina Nakale