Reshape the Development Agenda, UNCCD Executive Secretary Challenges States

“Action on climate change is driven by images of polar bears on melting glaciers, but the human face of climate change today is most evident in the livelihoods of the drylands people,” Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification has said.

Speaking during the opening, this afternoon, of the ninth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP 9), taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mr Gnacadja said crisis has followed crisis over the last two years, with devastating effects on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable who live in the drylands.

Resolving this “convergence of the fuel, food, financial and economic crises, against the backdrop of climate change, is not an excuse for failing to take further action. It is, rather, an opportunity to reshape the development agenda,” he said. Stating that a lack of resources stood in the way of action, Mr Gnacadja urged leaders to renew political will to action.

Homero Bibiloni, Secretary of State for the Environment and Sustainable Development in Argentina and President of COP 9, said there is a need to identify the predominant values in our culture responsible for moving the health of the planet and its well-being in the wrong direction.

He placed part of the blame on a “price structure that does not recognize the value and benefits of natural resources,” and suggested that a new logic could mean a substantive change in the definition of wealth.

Sergio La Rocca, Under-Secretary for Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina, said the world refers to Argentina as the “granary of the world for its Pampas,” although 75 percent of the country is arid or semi-arid. He stressed that combating desertification is combating poverty and exclusion, as these are its consequences.

COP 9 is set to run from 21 September to 2 October 2009, with the first week dedicated to an interaction between governments and scientists to determine the measures to be used to monitor and assess the trends of desertification, land degradation and drought. An open dialogue session between civil society organizations and Parties will also take place during the session.

On 28 to 29 September, ministers and other high-level government representatives will converge in Buenos Aires to discuss global trends in these three aspects, and in anticipation of the climate change Conference to be held in Copenhagen later this year, the relevance of land in climate change adaptation and mitigation and how to build partnerships to support these processes.

Buenos Aires, 21 September 2009.

About the UNCCD: Developed as a result of the Rio Summit, the UNCCD is a unique instrument that has brought attention to land degradation in some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and affected populations in the world. Thirteen years after coming into force, the UNCCD benefits from the largest membership of the three Rio Conventions and is recognized as an instrument that can make an important contribution to the achievement of sustainable development and generate global benefits.

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