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 26, 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.
Desertification and land degradation are global environmental and human-induced
processes that pertain to everyone and can have far-reaching social and economic
implications. Therefore, desertification and land degradation rank among the greatest
environmental challenges today and constitute a significant risk to the achievement of
sustainable development and the internationally agreed development goals, especially the
Millennium Development Goals.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment has confirmed that there is an intrinsic
relationship between poverty, desertification, land degradation and drought. This
vicious circle must be broken if sustainable food security is to be achieved. There are also
strong interlinkages between desertification and climate change. Desertification contributes to
climate change through soil and vegetation losses and the associated emission of CO2 into the
atmosphere. Climate change in turn exacerbates desertification, for example by more frequent
and prolonged droughts, intense downpours or decreases in mean precipitation.
The EU will work to give desertification and land degradation the recognition and its deserved
place on the international agenda and contribute to strengthen the synergies among
the Rio Conventions, highlighting the linkages between climate change, biodiversity,
desertification/land degradation, drought and water scarcity. Soil conservation can be used as
an instrument of both mitigation and adaptation to climate change and the United Nations
Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and its 10-Year Strategy should play a
key role in this respect: UNCCD expertise should be recognized and used in adaptation
discussions, at the global and national levels (e.g. experience with the elaboration of national
strategies to combat desertification, often in National Action Plans for elaboration of National
Adaptation Plans of Action).
Therefore, the CSD should urge the enhancement of synergies among the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UNCCD. When formulating and implementing the
national strategies we need to take into account that combating desertification, coping with
drought, mitigating and adapting to climate change and preserving biodiversity often translates
into the same scope of measures at the local level.
The CSD should encourage affected countries to define or adapt national action programmes to
tackle desertification, land degradation and drought issues and, in particular, should insist on
integrating action programmes into the National Sustainable Development Strategies,
Poverty Reduction Strategies, UNFCCC national programmes for adaptation and
mitigation, CBD national strategies and action plans, National Forests Plans as well as
national investment priorities and recall the challenges as pointed out in the 10-Year
As a matter of priority, the EU will continue to contribute its expertise and consistent
support to the implementation of the UNCCD and its 10-Year Strategy. Support should
also be given to the special formats of the subsidiary bodies meetings ahead: such as the
scientific conference style of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST). The CST
conference should play a key role by mobilizing the international scientific community and
enhancing the visibility and the scientific basis of issues related to desertification, land
degradation and drought as well as produce sound scientific outputs and policy-oriented
recommendations that inform policy formulation and dialogue. Expected policy-oriented
outcomes with strong messages on land degradation and adaptation will hopefully feed the
discussions during the climate change conference in December of this year.
Measures which have been developed within the framework of the UNCCD for the
preservation and restoration of natural capital and which have a direct impact on
agricultural production and on the incomes of affected populations should be
promoted, including the following:
- Development of farming practices for improving soil fertility, water retention and
irrigation efficiency, and therefore guaranteeing crop returns and food availability,
promoting the use of organic soil matter to retain soil moisture, maintaining soil carbon
stocks, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing soil?s carbon storage
- Management of vegetal covers: agroforesty, management of dry forests, preservation of
rangelands, and development and strengthening of the firewood energy sector;
- Capacity-building for local stakeholders (professional agricultural organizations, local
authorities, local communities) to develop sustainable, low-carbon agriculture;
- Diversification of income sources: sustainable use of natural resources through
appropriate channels, ecotourism, etc.
- Integration of sustainable land management into communal planning
These combined measures are at the same time crucial for adaptation to the adverse effects of
climate change.
The EU considers that support should be given to strengthening the scientific basis on
desertification and drought, improving knowledge and data collection as prevention tools.
This includes developing early-warning and monitoring systems (drought & desertification),
drought observatories and drought risk-management plans (national and regional); the
development of national and international benchmarks and indicators; the promotion of
research on soil carbon stocks monitoring.
The transfer, dissemination and adaptation of appropriate technologies to combat
desertification and land degradation and to foster climate change mitigation and adaptation in
affected countries should be encouraged. At the same time, it is important to support the
promotion of local and regional approaches, combining traditional knowledge with new or
emerging technologies.
In this regard, clear communication and dissemination of policies and best practices is
important in order to properly tackle food insecurity, climate change and the degradation of
natural resources (water, biodiversity, soil).
Donors should (financially and/or technically) support the process of adaptation of national
action programmes for combating desertification and land degradation in affected
countries and their integration into national investment priorities in the context of the 10-
Year Strategy. In this regard, a more effective mainstreaming of desertification, land
degradation and drought into development and climate cooperation is essential.
Coherence and complementarity of financing and implementing desertification control and
sustainable land management with the principles agreed under the Paris Declaration on aid
effectiveness should be assured.
Finally, the EU believes that the CSD should call upon governments to consider sustainable
land management as a high national priority in order to ensure the full commitment of the
governments through their national financial mechanisms and through their national strategies
for cooperation with the international donor community. In this regard, synergy among the Rio
Conventions, especially channeling adaptation funding into UNCCD relevant activities, presents
an opportunity to establish comprehensive policy instruments.
Thank you.