Gauteng and NW Province

World’s leading scientists meet to value global cost of land degradation and desertification

10 April 2013

The world’s leading scientists on land degradation and desertification are meeting from 9-12 April 2013 in Bonn, Germany, at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) 2nd Scientific Conference, to assess whether it is more economical for countries and the international community to put the measures needed to avert land over-exploitation sooner rather than later.
The Conference will issue the first global cost-benefit analysis of land degradation, which some experts are already comparing to the Stern Report issued on Climate Change or The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) that provided an economic valuation of biological diversity.
The UNCCD has 195 Parties. It was negotiated as an outcome of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to address the degradation of land in the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. Parties meet once every two years, as a Conference, to assess progress in implementation and take decisions on future actions. The preparatory work of the Parties is carried out through its subsidiary bodies, the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) and the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC).
With climate change and a global population set to reach 9 billion by 2050, land and soil experts are getting alarmed that the land resource may come under excessive pressure to meet growing food, water, energy and other demands.
At the Scientific Conference, South Africa will be represented by Prof. Klaus Kellner, a vegetation restoration ecologist from North West University, Mr Graham von Maltiz, a land degradation specialist at the CSIR, Dr James Gambiza, a land degradation scientist from Rhodes University, and Mr Muleso Kharika and Ms Thizwilondi Mulaudzi from the technical line function of Sustainable Land Management of the Department of Environmental Affairs as the national focal point of the UNCCD.
The CST of the Convention has been instrumental in promoting collaboration among scholars so that the development of policies on land management can be built on and assessed from sound science and cutting-edge knowledge. The CST will engage in dialogue with governments and other stakeholders from all over the world on how the indicators have been applied in the latest reports. The indicators were agreed upon on the advice of the UNCCD 1st Scientific Conference, which was held during COP 9 in Argentina in 2009, following the adoption of the UNCCD 10 Year Strategic Plan and Framework by COP 8 in Spain.
Following the Scientific Conference, government representatives will meet from 15-19 April, also in Bonn, for the eleventh session of the Committee for the Review of Implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CRIC 11). It is expected that South Africa’s delegation to CRIC 11 will be joined by officials from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The Committee will review and discuss the implementation of the Convention, especially with regard to poverty and land cover, and make recommendations from a scientific viewpoint of the reports submitted by the Parties and other stakeholders.
This eleventh meeting of the CRIC marks the first time, since the Convention was ratified in 1996, that Parties have reported the results of their activities using indicators that measure impact, more specifically, poverty and land cover. The outcomes of both meetings will guide decision-making when the Parties to the Convention meet towards the end of the year for their eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties.
www.environmental.gov.za

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