17 October 2011

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

‘The Stakes Are High,’ Secretary-General Says, Urging Parties to Desertification

Treaty to Make Intelligent Land Use Cornerstone of Sustainable Development


Following is the full text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s video message to the Tenth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, today, 17 October, in Changwon, Republic of Korea:

Preventing desertification has major implications for sustainable development.  The world’s drylands are too often an investment desert — seen by Governments and the international community as a lost cause.  We must reverse this trend.

This week you will meet Mr. [Yacouba] Sawadogo, dubbed “the man who stopped the desert”.  His extraordinary achievements in the Sahel region of Africa show that reversing land degradation and desertification is possible.

There are many other success stories.  Let us share such lessons and build on them.  If we protect, restore and manage land and soils, we can tackle many challenges simultaneously:  such as rural poverty; food and energy insecurity; biodiversity loss; climate change; forced migration and geopolitical instability.

These issues are linked.  The stakes are high.  Let us therefore work together to make intelligent land-use a cornerstone of sustainable development.

The Convention to Combat Desertification was a landmark achievement.  As we prepare for next year’s crucially important Rio+20 Conference [United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development], let us pledge to intensify global cooperation — Governments, civil society and private sector. 

That is the only way we will implement the Convention’s 10-year strategic plan, achieve the Millennium Development Goals and attain truly sustainable development.

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For information media • not an official record