‘Together We Can!’

 

The following are excerpts from the opening statement by the Right Honourable DR HAGE GEINGOB, Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia, at the Eleventh Session of the Conference of Parties (COP 11) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), in Windhoek on  September 23, 2013.

As President of COP11 to the UNCCD, the Republic of Namibia pledges its whole-hearted commitment towards a stronger UNCCD for a land degradation neutral world and giving effect to the Rio+20 – Future We Want – outcome document.

“The Future We Want” outlines our global aspirations and strategic prioritiesfor the years to come, including ensuring the timely and adequate allocation of resources to address multiple challenges and threats related to natural and environmental risks, particularly droughts and floods.

Ensuring food security and improved livelihoods for our vulnerable communities are also cornerstones of “the Future We Want”, which provides us with overarching guidance here as we seek to strengthen implementation of the UNCCD.

The technical experts have discussed and deliberated over the past week on the importance and optimum modalities of strengthening the implementation of the UNCCD.

It is our collective responsibility to ensure that comprehensive and concrete steps are taken towards a world without land degradation, and to enhance our performance in implementing the remaining five years of the UNCCD Strategy.

We must ensure that the legacy we leave behind from here is significant and meaningful in terms of impact at all levels from the local to the international. 

I am informed that best practices from around the world have been shared through the different fora of this Conference.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight briefly here some of the programmes and major policy interventions that the government of Namibia has undertaken as part of our national endeavors to combat desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD); eg, even before the Republic of Namibia ratified the UNCCD in 1997, we had already started with the implementation of a National Action Programme to Combat Desertification known as NAPCOD.

This Programme came to an end in 2005 but was built upon by the Country Pilot Partnership Programme which ran from 2007-2012.

Both NAPCOD and CPP were implemented using the programmatic approach involving Government, civil society organisations, tertiary institutions, donor agencies and private sector partners. Both programmes have helped us to tackle a number of our shortcomings in the areas of policy; institutional and individual capacity; awareness-raising; monitoring; and the engagement of communities and vulnerable groups on land degradation issues.

A third generation National Action Programme is currently under development and will be among the outcomes from this Conference. It is still our belief that the outcomes of this Conference will result in the setting of baselines and targets and the mobilisation of all stakeholders for the enhanced implementation of the Convention.

This requires that concrete targets are agreed on with a level of ambition needed to encourage suitable policies and practices. In this context, a target-setting approach within the UNCCD would provide the necessary policy and scientific guidance.

I expect that science-based solutions and research receive priority within the implementation of this Convention so that it can enable parties to have progressive impact oriented indicators to address real challenges on the ground, affecting livelihoods and food security of people living in degraded lands.

I am confident that this Forum will serve as an important platform for the private sector to exchange ideas and identify further opportunities and areas of investment linked to sustainable land management and the reduction of poverty in rural areas.

I strongly believe that the UNCCD is a perfect nucleus for synergies and complementarities with the other two Rio Conventions: on biodiversity and climate change. The question we need to ask is how can we ensure synergies between these three Conventions?

The missing link here is the fundamental role of soil for biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, agriculture and food security, as well as a host of other benefits such as economic growth, poverty reduction, women’s empowerment and improved water availability.

For this reason I strongly feel that soils and land degradation need to be integrated within the post-2015 sustainable development goals framework. Lastly I would like to remind us that all of our good ideas and expectations can only be achieved if there is adequate, predictable and timely financial support made available to the UNCCD for the estimated 1.5 billion people affected globally by land degradation.

I am confident that, through consensus and co-operation between the 195 parties, we will be able to push towards a stronger UNCCD for a land degradation neutral world.

I would like to remind us all that the UNCCD is premised on commitment to a bottom-up approach that puts local people at the centre of their own development, and I call on us all here to implement solutions that improve the living conditions of our people; that maintain and restore land and soil productivity; and that mitigate the effects of drought.

September 2013
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