The morning’s interactive dialogues started with UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw making stark reference to the “frightening diagnosis” contained in the 2022 Global Land Outlook. He expressed hope that the session will stimulate honest discussions on land regeneration and stewardship, by focusing on youth and sustainable production and consumption (SCP). Other opening remarks called for integrating local and Indigenous knowledge in all decision-making stages, resource mobilization to forge a future with environmentally-friendly agriculture systems, and the development of a single-point, incentive-based agenda enabling farmers to rebuild living soils.
The two dialogues in the morning focused on the role of youth in shaping the sustainable land agenda and shifting patterns in production and consumption through ‘future-proofing’ land use. Panelists highlighted, among others:
- the need to place young people at the forefront of local and national actions;
- land restoration opportunities that maximize youth employment for a growing demographic;
- incorporating education into sustainable development and sustainable agriculture initiatives;
- funding innovative projects for young people;
- improving youth’s access to land;
- continuing support for the development of green enterprises;
- better resource use and reorientation of subsidies towards SCP; and
- additional support for increased youth participation at the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP).
Unpacking the three topics of rights, rewards and responsibilities in land stewardship, forging a path towards sustainable post-pandemic recovery through land restoration, and developing drought resilience, delegates gathered in three high-level roundtables in the afternoon.
Keynote speakers introduced the roundtable topics with Alexander Müller, Managing Director, TMG Think Tank for Sustainability, questioning how to: implement the UNCCD decision on land tenure; use the global decision to support local land stewardship; inspire responsible governance; learn from countries leading with successful examples; and continue to integrate the three Rio Conventions.
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), highlighted that: human activity is the root cause of the biodiversity, climate and land crises; cooperation with the other Rio Conventions was central to UNFCCC; all finance should be considered through a lens of resilience and sustainability; and the focus of UNFCCC COP 27 will be on adaptation and resilience, especially in the African context.
Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility (GEF), described the idea that drought only affects arid and semi-arid countries as a myth and Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), appealed for bold, actionable decisions to restore land and ecosystems, asking parties to build on momentum created in Abidjan when holding the biodiversity and climate summits later this year.