CSOs Opening Statement to UNCCD COP10

CSOs Opening Statement to UNCCD COP-10,
Changwon City, Republic of Korea, 10th October, 2011

read by Ambassador Kwon Byong Hyon
Thank you Mr. Chairman. We CSOs around the Globe attending this COP-10 wish to extend our gratitude to the Korea Forest Service, Gyeongnam Province and people of the Republic of Korea for the hospitality extended to the participants. We also thank the UNCCD Secretariat for offering CSOs an opportunity to attend the Convention. We further express our gratitude to all those who support our participation in this conference.
The UNCCD COPs consist of mainly two parties. One is government and the other is the Civil Society. So far in the COPs, the governmental role has predominantly prevailed over the CSOs. In the light of the rising influence and achievement of CSOs in addressing sustainable land management and combating desertification, we firmly believe that both governments, UNCCD and CSOs should cooperate more closely in addressing the land degradation and desertification.
Implementation of the UNCCD has been taking place for almost 20 years and commitments have been given to combating desertification, however, this is the time to evaluate on the outcomes of these commitments. The evaluation of outcome may initiate a sincere attempt to go for Rio plus 20 impact assessment.  
After COP-9 held in Buenos Aires in 2009 and CRIC-9 held in Bonn in 2011, the COP-10 has created lot of expectations for the CSOs to have their aspirations fulfilled in regard to combating desertification, poverty alleviation in real terms and providing food security to the people who are at the level of subsistence. Conferences organized by UNCCD have by and large registered lot of declarations in different aspects of Desertification, Land degradation and Drought (DLDD), however, this time our benign approach to the Secretariat and the Country Parties that dialogue should not end only to have declarations which mostly appear to be infructuous and be regarded as holy book; rather a sincere effort would be highly appreciated to translate those declarations into actions in order to have a perpetual remedy to the causes of DLDD and poverty as well.  
The livelihoods of local communities and indigenous peoples throughout the developing world are inherently fragile, exposed to a range of shocks, trends and seasonal fluctuations over which households have limited or no control. The situation has been amplified in vulnerable countries. Land degradation has since aggravated the situation and people are at large to get even two square meals a day. Land degradation and food insecurity are two faces of same coin, unless we are committed to arrest land degradation further and reclaim the degraded land, we cannot feed the billions of hungry people. CSOs are deeply involved with the community in reclaiming the degraded land and turning it to productive use.

Over the years, CSOs have carried out intensive Natural Resource Management activities through Soil and Water Conservation, Water Resource Development to combat desertification and enhance the livelihoods for the rural poor through farm and non-farm activities. Tree and agroforestry program is being implemented in the wasteland and homestead areas. CSOs are also involved in Participatory Technology Generation and Participatory Varietal Selection initiated in collaboration with the relevant institutions.

Women empowerment and gender sensitization process are being undertaken at unit levels.  We are engaged in enabling poor women to make use of choices, spaces and opportunities in the economic, social and political spheres for their improved well-being.

We are also working with the community to increase their level of awareness, knowledge and perception of risk on drought and desertification. CSOs are also harnessing rural renewable energy options for attainment of energy for micro-irrigation in dry lands and for reducing pressure on biomass. CSOs are also deeply engaged in documenting the best practices which are proven and at the same time innovative for knowledge sharing.

In this current session of COP we would like to emphasize on prioritization of the desertification issues with a human face.  Parties must play a sincere role in prioritizing the desertification issues and in the stages of planning and execution, they should take CSOs on board. COP-10 has taken an agenda to deliberate on the issue of gender. It would be most appropriate to synergize the experiences and works of CSOs in gender sensitization program for the real empowerment of the women and the youth.  

Food sovereignty is being compromised specially in areas of dry lands challenged with food security and this aspect needs to be considered in the light of the 10 year strategy.
CSOs have been consistently demanding on National Coordination and Consultation Bodies to create a harmonized action on the desertification issues taking CSOs on board. We demand that where such mechanism exists, they should be strengthened and where they do not exist, they should be established. These mechanisms are essential requirements to have an effective alignment of NAPs with the 10 year strategy adopted by UNCCD.
In this Convention process, Civil Society has recognized the commitment of Parties and in the light of this, it is urged that Developed Countries mobilize more resources and allocate adequately to the developing countries for addressing desertification issues and to find more unison in thinking and action. 
We the UNCCD CSOs demand special attention and strong support of the UNCCD for Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs). ICCAs provide major benefits for conservation and livelihoods and have significant potential for responding to global changes, including climate change, combating desertification, conservation of biodiversity, maintaining ecosystem functions and providing ecological connectivity across the landscape. ICCAs are an approved part of the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas, which in our opinion can provide a significant opportunity for cooperation among the Multilateral Environmental Conventions.
The participation of CSOs in the UNCCD process is diminishing year by year compare to the number of accredited CSOs. We call for increased participation of CSOs in the process enshrined in the Convention.
Experience has shown that achieving the desired results of the UNCCD strategies cannot be in complete isolation from the other related conventions particularly the CBD and the UNFCCC. We therefore recommend that this Convention should take the lead in advancing on the synergy development among these conventions for an effective CCD implementation. In this earnest, it has become necessary to introduce an inter-governmental panel on land degradation under the aegis of UNCCD as soon as possible.
Trans-boundary resource management remains a challenge with respect to addressing land degradation. We therefore call for more partnership among stakeholders on sharing inter-boundary resources for the improvement of the living conditions of communities.
UNCCD was formulated to address drought and desertification. However, in reality and application, the process of the UNCCD is focusing more on desertification than drought. We call on Parties to put in place a mechanism for urgent response to drought.
We draw attention to large scale land grabbing in dry land areas which is currently taking away arable land from farming communities. We are also losing the forest cover and as well as the carbon sink. We are vehemently concerned about the impact of this on the achievement of the Convention objectives particularly on food and livelihood security. We thus call for consideration of this issue in the 10-year strategy process.
We insist that our consistent effort to alleviate poverty by addressing land degradation need to be supported by providing sustainable fund.

CSOs present in the COP-10 have committed to develop an alliance as a platform to voice out the aspirations unequivocally to make the UNCCD process more productive.

UNCCD COP 10 held in Asia should be a significant opportunity to raise awareness of the serious state of Asian desertification and poverty. We should recognize these issues as global agenda.

That is why we urge the concerned parties to act in a concerted effort to solve this issue.

We suggest that not only the South Korean government but also all other parties and civil societies in the region as well as in the world should pay more attention to the North Korean issues, particularly deforestation and poverty

On behalf of CSOs around the world, I wish COP10 a great success. Thank you.

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