In a nail-biting final day of the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 15), negotiations on drought were on a knife edge following a late night suspension of the contact group. As a result of a concerted facilitation from the COP 15 President and Executive Secretary, the deadlock was resolved and all other draft decisions were swiftly finalized.
In the evening, Chair Francisco Jose Avila opened the fifth meeting of the Committee of the Whole (COW) to resume consideration of nine draft decisions. Abou Bamba, Côte d’Ivoire, presented and read out the Abidjan Declaration on Gender and Report from the Gender Caucus. The COW adopted draft decisions on:
- follow-up on the midterm evaluation of the UNCCD 2018–2030 Strategic Framework;
- promotion and strengthening of relationships with other relevant conventions and international organizations, institutions and agencies;
- policy advocacy on drought;
- the Abidjan Declaration on Gender and Report from the Gender Caucus;
- participation and involvement of civil society organizations and the private sector in meetings and processes of the UNCCD; and
- the programme of work for the sixteenth session of the COP.
With the final plenary session of the COP directly following after the COW, Chair Avila presented a summary of the outcomes of COW deliberations and submitted 19 draft decisions to COP 15 for adoption. The COP adopted the draft decisions.
In closing remarks, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw, congratulated delegates for their hard work throughout two weeks of “an intense journey,” celebrating the collective effort to elevate the work of the Convention and ensure the great achievement of COP 15, and thanking the hospitality Côte d’Ivoire, COP 15 President Donwahi, and the UNCCD Secretariat.
Prime Minister Patrick Achi, Côte d’Ivoire, reflected that hosting COP 15 presents a double-symbol of Côte d’Ivoire’s rebirth, and commitment to seek effective and enduring solutions to combat desertification, land degradation and drought. He called the Abidjan Legacy Programme a model of effective land management to be replicated across the world. He thanked everyone, noting the priorities have been set, “it is now time to rapidly implement activities.”