On Tuesday, 20 September 2011, all Member States are invited to participate at the highest political level in the UN General Assembly high-level meeting on the theme, “Addressing desertification, land degradation and drought in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.”
Why is the General Assembly convening a high-level meeting?
Taking place in the context of the UN Decade for Deserts and the Fights against Desertification (2010-2020), the high-level meeting aims to raise awareness of desertification, land degradation and drought at the highest level. The outcomes of the meeting will be transmitted to the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification that will be held from 10 to 21 October 2011 in Changwon City, Republic of Korea. It also seeks to contribute to the preparation of the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 (Rio+20).
What can the international community do?
The General Assembly calls on Member States, particularly the donor community and the United Nations System, to address the needs of the over one billion drylands inhabitants by making appropriate investments that would contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
The purpose of the meeting is:
- to raise awareness about desertification, land degradation and drought at the highest political level;
- to reaffirm the fulfilment of all commitments to the Convention and its 10-year strategic plan and framework (2008-2018); and
- to ensure that initiatives to combat desertification and land degradation and to mitigate the effects of drought are accorded a higher priority on the international agenda, in particular at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+ 20).
- Widespread poverty: more than one billion people live on marginal lands, many caught in a vicious cycle that intensifies dysfunctional patterns and further isolates them. Land degradation is both a cause and consequence of poverty, affecting 1.5 billion people: 42% of the world’s poorest people live in degraded areas, compared to 15% of others.
- Declining agricultural and land productivity across 24% of the Earth’s land mass: more than half of farm lands worldwide are now moderately to severely degraded.
- Persistent conflict: 80% of armed conflicts occurred in arid lands in 2007.
- Growing numbers of economic migrants and environmental refugees, whose arrival often exacerbates problems and tensions in host communities, and further degrades land.