United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Major Group: Business & Industry


Madame Chair, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am Norine Kennedy of the US Council for International Business, speaking on
behalf of the Business and Industry major group.
Fighting desertification is a substantial priority linked with enhancing sustainable
development through agriculture, and must be addressed through broad based,
knowledge-centered approaches, addressing the strategic objectives identified by the
UNCCD. Moreover, climate change is likely to accelerate land degradation and with a
declining ratio of arable land to population, it is more pressing than ever to step up
international cooperative action and synergy among treaties in all these areas.
RESEARCH PRIORITIES AND DISSEMINATION
Business and Industry calls for a greater prioritization of research initiatives in this
area and increased efforts to provide incentives and training to farmers to limit land
degradation and desertification.
Improving cultivation in arid and semi-arid climates requires research prioritization,
in the development of stress-tolerant, more efficient crops, and in sustaining plant
growth and production. Maize with drought tolerance is expected to perform better
than ?regular? maize in moderate drought conditions by about 25-30%, which would
translate to about 2 million more tons of food during drought years. Progress has
also been made through conventional breeding. Researchers at the International
Centre for Tropical Agriculture have developed a common bean that can withstand
drought better ? yielding 600 to 750 kg per ha under severe drought conditions,
roughly double the yield of common beans in Latin America under the same drought
conditions.
INTEGRATED SOIL MANAGEMENT
The most dramatic examples of desertification are in Africa, where declining soil
fertility is linked to declining agricultural productivity. Higher levels of soil organic
matter improve water retention, and fertile soils support a more vigorous crop cover
which in turn helps prevent soil erosion. Business and industry supports such
integrated soil management. For example, the fertilizer industry has launched a
project in West Africa, in which more than 60K farmers have participated to learn soil
fertility techniques.
INCENTIVES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICES BY FARMERS
Farmers can be stewards of the land through improved access to knowledge,
capacity building and training in best practices. Furthering the adoption of
conservation agriculture, which has been shown to dramatically reduce erosion,
protect soil moisture, and improve soil quality, can be a positive step in that
direction. For example, in the Guangxi region of China, studies found that the
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adoption of conservation tillage could help reduce erosion by up to 43% while
helping famers increase yields.
There should also be consideration of incentives and reward schemes for effective
environmental practices, to recognize and value farmers? role in combating
desertification.
Growing population and resource demand, and new challenges from climate change
make it more important than ever for public and private sector partnership to carry
out research, the results of which should reach farmers at the front line of fighting
land degradation and desertification. Farmers must be rewarded for the services
they provide and incentives created to encourage good environmental practices.
With farmer and science major groups, we have identified key principles in the
?Farming First? statement, which are germane to combating desertification and land
degradation. This statement is available on the document tables in the conference
rooms.
Thank you for your attention.