Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States
Informal Ministerial Event on International Cooperation on Combating Desertification and Deforestation at 10th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF10)
9 April 2013, Turkey
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me first thank His Excellency Minister Mr. Veysel Eroğlu for hosting this Informal Ministerial Event.
It is a privilege to exchange ideas with you on the important topic of International Cooperation on Combating Desertification and Deforestation.
This important gathering provides us with a unique opportunity to share ideas and experiences in an open, informal way, on two vitally linked issues relating to sustainable forest management, especially for arid, semi-arid and dryland areas.
Land degradation, desertification and deforestation are closely linked and pose major challenges for sustainable forest management and sustainable land management, with far-reaching implications for food security and sustainable agriculture.
Desertification and deforestation exacerbate a wide range of environmental and developmental challenges. They intensify climate change impacts and biodiversity loss, and threaten water and food security. They may also lead to mass migration and conflicts over access to natural resources.
In the lead-up to the Rio+20 Conference, drought, land degradation, deforestation, desertification were among the critical challenges highlighted by Governments, business and civil society, including research and academic communities.
In over 150 submissions to the outcome document, governments and other stakeholders called for action to address the inter-linked challenges facing the vulnerable communities in dryland regions facing deforestation and desertification.
In September 2011, the UN General Assembly held a high-level meeting on the theme: “Addressing desertification, land degradation and drought in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.”
In the preparations for Rio+20, many countries called for a land degradation neutral world, with a sustainable development target of “zero-net land degradation”.
The Zero Net Land Degradation target advocates that sustainable land-use is a prerequisite for ensuring future water, food and energy security and for fostering sustainable forest management.
Will there be similar targets for halting, reversing deforestation and promoting sustainable forests management?
This meeting is a fitting occasion for frank and candid exchange of views on possible forests and land management targets to be incorporated into SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda.
Indeed, in the outcome document of Rio+20, Member States recognized the inter-linkages of forests with other sectoral and cross-sectoral issues. It is imperative, therefore, that we address land degradation, desertification and deforestation through both targeted and cross-sectoral and cross-institutional policies.
To help stimulate discussion, I would like to invite Ministers to address the following three questions:
- How to strengthen prevention and mitigation of land degradation and deforestation? What incentives and measures should we adopt to encourage sustainable forest and sustainable land management?
- How to integrate action and promote inter-linkages to combat desertification and deforestation, including in critical sectors for dryland communities, such as food security, water management, energy, technology innovations, climate change adaptation and mitigation? How to foster international cooperation, including for capacity-building, information-sharing, and technology transfer?
- In addition to zero net land degradation, in your views, what other land and forest-related targets should be included in the sustainable development goals?
I look forward to a dynamic, rich and interactive discussion on these and other issues.
Let us continue learning and working together, to advance and support international cooperation on forests and create a more sustainable future for our people and our planet.