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   Sustainable Development Topics

Desertification and Drought: Decisions of the GA and CSD  

WSSD | CSD-8 | UN GA Special session | CSD-3

World Summit on Sustainable Development
24 Aug to 4 Sept 2002

Strengthen the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa, to address causes of desertification and land degradation in order to maintain and restore land, and to address poverty resulting from land degradation. This would include actions at all levels to:

  1. Mobilize adequate and predictable financial resources, transfer of technologies and capacity-building at all levels;

  2. Formulate national action programmes to ensure timely and effective implementation of the Convention and its related projects, with the support of the international community, including through decentralized projects at the local level;

  3. Encourage the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification to continue exploring and enhancing synergies, with due regard to their respective mandates, in the elaboration and implementation of plans and strategies under the respective Conventions;

  4. Integrate measures to prevent and combat desertification as well as to mitigate the effects of drought through relevant policies and programmes, such as land, water and forest management, agriculture, rural development, early warning systems, environment, energy, natural resources, health and education, and poverty eradication and sustainable development strategies;

  5. Provide affordable local access to information to improve monitoring and early warning related to desertification and drought;

  6. Call on the Second Assembly of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to take action on the recommendations of the GEF Council concerning the designation of land degradation (desertification and deforestation) as a focal area of GEF as a means of GEF support for the successful implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification; and consequently, consider making GEF a financial mechanism of the Convention, taking into account the prerogatives and decisions of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, while recognizing the complementary roles of GEF and the Global Mechanism of the Convention in providing and mobilizing resources for the elaboration and implementation of action programmes;

  7. Improve the sustainability of grassland resources through strengthening management and law enforcement and providing financial and technical support by the international community to developing countries.

Commission on Sustainable Development, 8th Session
30 April 1999 and 24 April to 5 May 2000

Integrated planning and management of land resources

1. Introduction


1. The main objectives of activities in the area of integrated planning and management of land resources must be pursued in full accordance with Agenda 21and the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21. It is important that countries address sustainable development through a holistic approach, such as ecosystem-based management. This approach would address interactions among land resources, water, air, biota and human activities, in order to meet the priority challenges of desertification and drought, sustainable mountain development, prevention and mitigation of land degradation, coastal zones, deforestation, climate change, rural and urban land use, urban growth and conservation of biological diversity. Integrated watershed management provides one of the commonly understood frameworks for achieving a holistic approach to sustainable development. The application of the ecosystem-based approach should take into consideration the livelihood opportunities of people living in poverty in rural areas, and a balance should be found through the use of policy instruments between environmental conservation and rural livelihood.

2. The importance of integrated planning and management of land resources derives from the unprecedented population pressures and demands of society on land, water and other natural resources, as well as the increasing degradation of resources and threats to the stability and resilience of ecosystems and the environment as a whole, in part as a result of climate change. These trends highlight the need for each country to ensure for its citizens within the limit of its national legislation, equal access and rights to land, water and other natural and biological resources, and to resolve competition among various domestic sectors for land resources.

3. The challenge is to develop and promote sustainable and productive land-use management systems as part of national and local strategies for sustainable development and to protect critical natural resources and ecosystems through balancing land, water and other natural resources. Governments are encouraged to provide transparent, effective, participatory and accountable governance conducive to sustainable development and responsive to the needs of people. Social and health aspects of land-use systems deserve particular attention and should be integrated into the overall planning process.

2. Priorities for future work

4. The review of implementation of Agenda 21 in 2002 will benefit from the outcome of the eighth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. Priority areas for future work should be defined by CSD and should include the following:

  • Prevention and/or mitigation of land degradation;

  • Access to land and security of tenure;

  • Critical sectors and issues: biodiversity, forests, drylands, rehabilitation of mining areas, mountain areas, wetlands and coastal zones, coral reefs, natural disasters, and rural-urban and land management interactions;

  • Access to information and stakeholder participation;

  • International cooperation, including that for capacity-building, information sharing and technology transfer;

  • Minerals, metals and rehabilitation in the context of sustainable development.

3. Prevention and/or mitigation of land degradation

5. Governments and the international community are urged to make concerted efforts to eradicate poverty and to review unsustainable patterns of production and consumption as a crucial means for reducing land degradation, desertification, deforestation and destruction of biological diversity. Appropriate policies for planning and development are essential for ensuring the sustainable livelihoods of people living in poverty, inter alia, among rural communities.

6. Governments and the international community are encouraged to promote soil, water and vegetation conservation, protection, restoration and enhancement measures as a prerequisite of sustainable land management, agricultural production, food security and the protection of biological diversity, as well as of the prevention and mitigation of land degradation and natural disasters. In this regard, Governments, the international community, international organizations and other stakeholders are encouraged to develop partnerships to share information on and promote access to appropriate technologies and traditional knowledge.

5. Critical sectors and issues

(c) Drylands

17. Governments and the international community are urged to undertake appropriate measures to address recurring droughts, desertification, the degradation of fragile land resources, and the depletion of scarce water resources in drylands. Priority is to be given to areas where there are high-population pressures and droughts.

7. International cooperation, including that for capacity-building, information sharing and technology transfer 28. Governments and the international community are urged to fulfil the financial commitments as set out in chapter 33 of Agenda 21 to effectively support the implementation of integrated planning and management of land resources in developing countries, taking into account priorities identified by those countries.

29. The United Nations system is urged to support Governments in further promoting the implementation of the Habitat Agenda,12 adopted by the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) (Istanbul, June 1996) and in linking it to the implementation of Agenda 21, including local Agenda 21 programmes. Support for the five-year review of Habitat II is encouraged.

30. Governments, in particular those of developed countries, and international organizations are further urged, inter alia, through appropriate arrangements, to provide technological assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition in implementing the integrated planning and management of land resources, as recommended in Agenda 21.

31. Governments and relevant international institutions are encouraged to develop and to use at all levels appropriate land-use indicators, best practices and related monitoring systems.

32. Governments are invited to consider cooperating, as appropriate, in the area of integrated planning and management of land resources, through information- and experience-sharing.

33. Governments, in particular those of developed countries, are urged, through appropriate arrangements, to further strengthen the use and transfer of appropriate technologies that are best adapted and suited to local conditions in developing countries, including decision support systems, such as geographical information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS), for integrated planning and management of land and other natural resources. In addition, Governments are urged to strengthen the capabilities of developing countries for the application of these technologies.

34. Governments are urged to promote land-related research, and extension and dissemination of technological information and innovative practices, and to undertake training programmes for land users, including farmers and agro-food industries, women and local communities, where appropriate, and other relevant stakeholders. In this regard, developed countries and the international community are urged to improve access to up-to-date information and technology by developing countries.

35. Governments are encouraged to sign, ratify and support the effective implementation of relevant international agreements, including the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa,13 as vital instruments for achieving integrated planning and management of land resources, and calls for additional support for their implementation.

36. States that have not yet done so are encouraged to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and to take account of the complementarities among the relevant international instruments in order to improve land-use and land management, to promote sustainable forest and land-use practices and to generate the multiple benefits that may accrue from the implementation of these instruments, in particular with respect to combating desertification, loss of biodiversity and degradation of freshwater resources and carbon sequestration.

38. The United Nations and other international development organizations are urged to assist developing countries in their efforts to achieve integrated planning and management of land resources, through financial support, transfer of environmentally sound technologies on mutually agreed terms, capacity-building and education and training.

39. Governments are encouraged taking into account work being done by, inter alia, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Centre for Human
Settlements (Habitat), the regional commissions, other United Nations bodies and the Commission on Sustainable Development, as well as national and regional organizations, as appropriate to further consider the development and use of appropriate land-use indicators and monitoring systems for the purpose of assessing progress in the implementation of programmes for sustainable development, with
special attention to the gender perspective.

Decision 8/4
Agriculture


1. Introduction

1. Agriculture as an economic sector is being considered by the Commission on Sustainable Development at its eighth session from the broad perspective of sustainable development, highlighting the linkages between economic, social and environmental objectives. As contained in Agenda 21,16 particularly chapter 14, and the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, adopted by the General Assembly at its nineteenth special session, agriculture has to meet the fundamental challenge of satisfying the demands of a growing population for food and other agricultural commodities, especially in developing countries. The particular focus of the discussion has been promoting sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD), in accordance with the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development18 and the internationally agreed objectives contained in chapter 14 of Agenda 21 as well as, inter alia, the Rome Declaration on World Food Security19 and the World Food Summit Plan of Action20 adopted by the World Food Summit (Rome, November 1996). The basis for achieving SARD in all countries is contained in these and other commitments; what is needed is their full implementation at all levels.

2. Priorities for action

(i) Desertification and drought

31. Combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought are crucial elements of SARD. Governments and relevant international organizations should promote the integration of national action programmes to combat desertification, developed under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in
Africa, into national strategies for sustainable development.

United Nations General Assembly, 19h Special Session
New York, 23-27 June 1997

Desertification and drought

64. Governments are urged to conclude (by signing and ratifying, accepting, approving and/or acceding to) and to implement as soon as possible the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa, which entered into force on 26 December 1996, and to support and actively participate in the first session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, which is to be held in Rome in September 1997.

65. The international community is urged to recognize the vital importance and necessity of international cooperation and partnership in combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought. In order to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of existing financial mechanisms, the international community, in particular developed countries, should therefore support the global mechanism that would have the capacity to promote actions leading to the mobilization and channelling of substantial resources for advancing the implementation of the Convention and its regional annexes, and to contribute to the eradication of poverty, which is one of the principal consequences of desertification and drought in the majority of affected countries. Another view was that the international community, in particular developed countries, should provide new and additional resources towards the same ends. The transfer to developing countries of environmentally sound, economically viable and socially acceptable technologies relevant to combating desertification and/or mitigating the effects of drought, with a view to contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in affected areas, should be undertaken without delay on mutually agreed terms.

United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, 3rd Session
New York, 11-28 April 1995

Report of the Commission on Sustainable Development on the Third Session (11-28 April 1995)

3. Managing fragile ecosystems: combating desertification and drought

179. The Commission notes that some 1 billion people live in the rural areas of the world's drylands, which constitute one third of the land on Earth. They are at risk, and more than 100 million are already significantly affected and face having to abandon their lands and migrate. The Commission is concerned that, according to the report of the Secretary-General on managing fragile ecosystems: combating desertification and drought (E/CN.17/1995/4), the economic loss caused by desertification world wide, in terms of average income forgone, was estimated in 1991 to be more than US$ 42 billion per year, most of it in Asia (US$ 20.9 billion per year) and Africa (US$ 9.3 billion per year). These figures are all the more alarming in Africa, where the affected countries rank among the poorest and least developed in the world.  

180. Desertification and drought are closely interlinked with other issues such as loss of biodiversity, food security, population growth, poverty, climate change, water resources, deforestation, resource consumption patterns, deterioration of terms of trade, economics and, especially, social and cultural issues. Desertification is a social and economic as well as an environmental problem. Drought and land degradation can occur in most climatic zones, affecting a large number of people. The Commission emphasizes the need to take action on the effects of drought and to recognize that land degradation also occurs in sub-humid and humid regions. Within the context of food security, combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought take on particular significance.

181. The Commission welcomes the timely conclusion of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa, and urges all Governments to recognize the urgent need for its early signature, ratification and entry into force, and to support the resolution on urgent action for Africa, adopted by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the Elaboration of an International Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa, at its fifth session, 23/ as well as to promote actions in other regions. Implementation of the programme areas of Agenda 21 should be carried out within the context of the Convention, including its regional implementation annexes. The Commission urges Governments and intergovernmental organizations to give strong political support to the first session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, to be held once the Convention has been ratified by at least 50 countries, and to support fully the work of the interim secretariat in preparing for the first meeting of the Conference of Parties.

182. The Commission underlines the importance of the following features of the Convention: (a) The open, participatory approach, based on active work at the local level and the particularly important contribution of women; (b) The need for improved donor coordination and the establishment of partnerships between Governments in donor and affected countries, and the active involvement of non-governmental organizations; (c) The integrated, that is, global and multidisciplinary, approach, emphasizing the importance of the links between land and water management; and the role of energy, in particular new and renewable sources of energy, as well as the role of socio-economic factors and the need to combat poverty; (d) The need for an active role of science in improving the situation in the drylands, and in humid and sub-humid areas.

183. The Commission urges Governments to take an integrated approach to combating desertification, taking into account the link between desertification and poverty and the need for appropriate low-cost environmentally sound technologies for sustainable development. Sectoral strategic framework plans need to be consolidated within overall national planning and budgeting frameworks. The Commission draws the attention of Governments to the potential for the Convention to provide an in-country coordinating mechanism for integrated land management in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid lands.

184. In order to be fully effective, the Convention needs to be better known. The Commission therefore emphasizes that, despite the increased understanding of desertification and drought issues, there is a continuing need to raise public awareness of the issues. The Commission urges Governments to enhance awareness among policy makers and the public at large through national institutions in the framework of the Convention, and of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, and through the observance of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, on 17 June of every year.

185. The Commission stresses the need for the mobilization of financial resources, inter alia, as called for by the relevant provisions of the Convention (articles 6, 20 and 21) and needed for its implementation, particularly in Africa. The Commission recommends that appropriate organizations of the United Nations system take steps to facilitate the financing of programmes and projects in dry and sub-humid areas. The Commission urges developed countries to agree on coherent policies and adequate resource allocations for fulfilling their commitments towards the implementation of the Convention.

186. The Commission notes that the wealth of information, knowledge and experience concerning the causes and effects of desertification and drought that are already available allow for action to be stepped up immediately. Measures that assist information-sharing (for example, workshops) should be encouraged. The Commission also considers that the need for substantial improvement and better use of existing scientific knowledge of the problem is fundamental to further improving understanding of the significance of desertification and drought. Meeting this need would involve improved monitoring to provide data collection for desertification assessment and early warning of drought, as well as the improvement of capacities to facilitate access to and application of this information by land users. A more precise understanding of the desertification issue would involve concerted activities, including consultations with major groups, at the national level in affected countries, and the recognition by Governments of its importance, that is, a cross-sectoral effort involving physical, social, humanitarian and economic factors.

187. The Commission recognizes that the strengthening of national capacities is central to combating desertification and drought. The Commission urges affected countries, regional and subregional organizations: (a) To take effective action to set up institutional arrangements and policy frameworks for developing, managing and implementing national strategies and action programmes, incorporating provision for active public participation, especially among those most affected; (b) To encourage Governments to improve national coordination among agencies in order to implement measures for combating desertification and managing drought more effectively and for the sustainable use of natural resources, given the cross-cutting nature of these issues; (c) To establish, as a matter of highest priority, coordinating arrangements and to create partnerships with donors and national stakeholders, within the context of the Convention.

188. The Commission recognizes the importance of preserving the knowledge of farmers and indigenous and local people concerning dryland management and survival strategies. Their full involvement in the sustainable development of these drylands - their homelands - needs to be ensured. In this regard, the Commission notes with satisfaction that the principle of allowing more effective participation of local people, especially farmers, through their representative organizations in the planning and development of their natural resources is being more willingly accepted in many affected countries. It also notes the fact that many organizations, especially non-governmental organizations, have stepped up their participatory approaches with the inclusion of marginalized and disadvantaged groups, especially women, in the dryland development process.

189. The Commission takes note of the statement in the report of the Secretary-General (E/CN.17/1995/4) to the effect that United Nations organizations have already taken steps to align their drought and desertification activities in accordance with Agenda 21. Further agreements on the system-wide division of labour and proposals on further partnership arrangements between agencies (and corresponding targeted work plans) are needed. The Commission recommends that these organizations further define their roles, comparative advantages, cooperative mechanisms, level of intervention and corresponding resource allocations in the implementation of the Convention.

 

 

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