DECLARATION BY CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS
Participating in the tenth session of the Conference of Parties
to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
1. The civil society organizations (CSOs) meeting in Changwon on the occasion of the tenth session of the Conference of Parties (COP10) to the United Nations Convention to Combat desertification (UNCCD) wish to thank the Korean authorities responsible for the coordination of this Conference, the Secretariat of the Convention and in particular, the Korean CSOs network for their efforts and support, together with other organizations which have made this Conference possible.
2. Participating CSOs highlight the urgency of dealing with desertification. Recent studies indicate that dry lands not only take 41.3% of total land surface but are also home to 2.1 billion people; that is one in every three people worldwide. Moreover, one in every three crops under cultivation today has its origin in the dry lands. Dry lands also support 50% of the world’s livestock, serve as rich wildlife habitats and account for nearly half of all cultivated systems.
3. Over the years, CSOs have carried out intensive natural resources management activities for enhancement of livelihoods for the rural poor, women empowerment and awareness raising.
4. We are concerned about the low action on implementing and operationalizing the UNCCD at grassroots level and urge that all Parties be more focused on giving DLDD the priority that it deserves and develop concrete activities to alleviate the sufferings of communities affected by desertification and drought. Relating to drought, we call for an establishment of emergency mechanisms to deal with disasters caused by this phenomenon.
5. Gender mainstreaming is the current international approach to advancing gender equality and equity in society. We strongly believe that at the level of national government, they should involve incorporating a gender perspective into all policies, plans, programmes and projects to ensure that these impact on women, men and youth in an equitable way.
6. The participation of CSOs in the UNCCD process is diminishing year after year compared to the number of accredited CSOs. We strongly reiterate our demand for increased participation of CSOs in the process as enshrined in the Convention. CSOs are deeply engaged in documenting the best practices which are proven and innovative for knowledge sharing. However, it is unfortunate that we CSOs will not be able to share anymore our experiences and expertise directly through the PRAIS to the Conference of the Parties as recommended by the CRIC 9.
7. We stress the importance to create a global inventory of drought-resistant plants. In this regard, CSOs could contribute in identifying and collecting information on these plants in respective countries in collaboration with science and technology.
8. We CSOs also demand special attention and strong support of 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 combating desertification, climate change, 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 Multilateral Environmental Conventions.
9. Strengthening scientific knowledge base on SLM is necessary for effective policy decision making on DLDD. We therefore call for establishment of intergovernmental scientific panel on soil and land in the UNCCD. The work of this panel will also compliment science and technology input within the circles of synergy amongst the Rio Conventions. The composition of the Panel should include CSOs.
10. We CSOs recommend that this Convention should take the lead in advancing on synergy development for an effective UNCCD implementation. This is because experience has shown that achieving the desired result of the UNCCD strategies cannot be in complete isolation from the other related Conventions.
11. CSOs have taken initiative here in COP10 to forge an alliance in this Convention to develop and establish a platform amongst their constituencies for exchange of experience, technology and best practices on DLDD. The alliance is also expected to provide an effective partnership and dialogue with the stakeholders of the UNCCD process.
12. We CSOs welcome and support the Changwon Initiative. In order to be more inclusive and participatory, we demand active involvement of civil society.
13. CSOs think that some issues need to be addressed urgently in the UNCCD process. Land grabbing has become a threat to food production, security and food sovereignty in many local communities. Acquisition of large tracks of community farmlands by multinational has set direct competition in access to land for food cultivation by local communities on one hand, and access to land by the multinationals for cultivation of non-edible crops and in particular agro fuel. The land grabs deprives communities of their nourishing capitals which is land.
14. We also urge upon not only civil societies but also all other parties should pay more attention to extreme poverty and social injustice caused by deforestation and land degradation.