United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

European Union

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Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting
for the Seventeenth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development
23 ? 27 February 2009
on behalf of the European Union
Prof. Bedøich Moldan
Senator of the Parliament of the Czech Republic
Director of the Environment Center of the Charles University in Prague
Head of Delegation
New York, February 25, 2009

Madam Chairperson / Mr Chairman, distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Czech Republic has the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its twentyseven
Member States.
Drought is a natural phenomenon, which, these days, affects almost all places around the
world without respect to climatic zones. In the future, due to human activities and climatic and
hydrological variability, the area affected by drought is likely to increase, provoking more
land degradation, desertification, wild fires, and water stress with a negative impact on poverty,
food availability, global security and migration.
Drought, as well as desertification, can have important impacts on the achievement of
sustainable development and far-reaching social and economic implications. It also
can affect the efforts towards the achievement of internationally agreed development goals,
specifically the Millennium Development Goals.
Thus, in order to be able to feed a growing world population which should reach 9 billion by
2050, it is essential to reverse land degradation processes, to continue to develop
sustainable land management practices and to promote integrated water resource
management, which includes water scarcity prevention and drought mitigation
measures. These combined measures are also crucial for the adaptation to the adverse effects
of climate change.
Regarding sustainable water resource management, it is important to support the
development and implementation of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM)
principles and plans at all levels, with particular emphasis on promoting water demand
management and risk management policies for droughts and floods. IWRM at the basin level,
including the transboundary level, is a means to safeguard water for food security in the long
term: by addressing water-use conflicts and helping to secure and to enhance food production,
by sustaining water availability, and by allocating available water resources efficiently, including
for agricultural use. Water efficiency and conservation measures?such as new agricultural
practices, improved infrastructure, non-conventional water resources and technologies including
desalination and water harvesting?should be developed in different sectors.
To invest in the improvement or renewal of existing infrastructure and technology?notably,
clean technologies that facilitate the efficient use of water?is an important step in addressing
the challenge of water scarcity and drought.
The implementation of IWRM principles and climate change adaptation measures in national
development strategies and policies in key water sectors, such as agriculture, energy, trade,
and tourism, is especially important to build resilience. Planning, preparedness and
prevention measures, as opposed to crisis management, are crucial.
Special attention must be paid to the sustainable use and protection of deep groundwater
resources, which provide strategic reserves for periods of extreme water scarcity, but which
are at risk of overexploitation and pollution. Also, the issues of water quality in many parts of
the world, as well as treatment of water resources, including recycling, drainage and
desalinization, deserve better attention.
In addition, research should also be targeted towards the development of monitoring systems
for soil carbon stocks. Improved knowledge and data collection are necessary in order to
evaluate the potential of soil carbon management in mitigating drought impacts, land
degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss. In this regard, the role that forests and
(re)forestation policies play in fighting climate change, drought and desertification must be
emphasized. We note, in this context, the progress that could be achieved on the basis of an
approval of a non-legally binding instrument in the framework of the UNFF.
In order to promote better preparedness for drought impacts, knowledge and data
collection should be improved and national and international benchmarks and indicators
for monitoring scientific, environmental and socio-economic aspects of drought should be
developed in order to be measurable and comparable in time and space.
Drought management plans, early-warning and risk prevention systems at the national
and regional levels need to be based on such reliable information. But most of all, we need to
assure that such plans can be translated into action at the local level. The integration of risk
and drought management as a part of communal planning, appropriate capacity-building and
the dissemination of relevant and reliable information to stakeholders at national and local
levels are mandatory. All these activities should also be supported by capable institutions,
such as existing or new drought observatories.
Dryland people have a vast traditional knowledge on dealing with climate variability. Since the
early 1980?s, we have acquired vast experience in the approaches and technologies of coping
with climatic variability. All these experiences need to be valorized. In this regard, the
promotion of local and regional approaches to drought combining traditional knowledge
with modern technologies should be enhanced. At the same time, the access, transfer,
and adaptation of appropriate technologies and measures must be encouraged, especially
in developing countries.
Drought takes place regardless of state boundaries. International cooperation is therefore
essential, especially in the context of transboundary waters, which was also recognized as
the main theme of World Water Day 2009. Promoting new or reinforcing existing instruments is
A number of international instruments on water already exist. In addition, the EU would like to
emphasise the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) ? currently the
only legally binding universal agreement that addresses drought and desertification ? as a
powerful tool to provide a framework to foster protection, sustainable use and
management of water resources.
Finally, the EU believes that the CSD should encourage countries to critically assess, review
and amend national action programmes to tackle desertification, land degradation as well
as drought issues in the new perspective of the 10-Year Strategy of the UNCCD and insist
on integrating those action programmes into national development and investment strategic
documents. In order to do so, strong political commitment and action are needed.
Thank you.