Using the analogy of elephants with their supportive social structures that form the basis of their resilience in the face of great challenges, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw encouraged all to put the major disruption of the past two years behind, and demonstrate the resilience of the UNCCD’s commitment to continue the fight against desertification, land degradation and drought. These and other inspiring remarks comprised the official opening of the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
COP 14 Presidency’s Bhupender Yadav, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India, opened the session, with the incoming COP 15 President, Alain-Richard Donwahi, former Minister of Water and Forests, Côte d’Ivoire, challenging parties to act positively and constructively by focusing on the COP 15 theme of “Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity.”
Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara called for COP 15 to be an event for action, partnership and solidarity by the international community for those in drought distress.
Parties expressed their support for the work of the UNCCD Secretariat and scientists advising the Science-Policy Interface (SPI) in opening statements throughout the morning, and in the afternoon the Committee of the Whole (COW) met to consider organizational matters, the programme of work and budget, and policy frameworks and thematic issues.
The Committee on Science and Technology (CST) opened its 20th session in parallel, and following opening remarks from parties, the Committee considered:
- Policy-oriented recommendations resulting from evidence on the potential contribution of integrated land use planning (ILUP) and integrated landscape management (ILM) to positive transformative change, achieving land degradation neutrality and addressing desertification/land degradation and drought issues, under objective 1 of the Science-Policy Interface work programme for the biennium 2020–2021; and
- Evidence on the potential contribution of integrated land use planning and integrated landscape management to positive transformative change, achieving land degradation neutrality and addressing desertification/land degradation and drought issues.
Two COW contact groups and one CST contact group were established and met in the evening.
A series of side events took place throughout the day.