Statement of UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw in response to the Beijing Call for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change

07/11/2019 – Messages
https://www.unccd.int/news-events/statement-unccd-executive-secretary-ibrahim-thiaw-response-beijing-call-biodiversity

Bonn, 7 November 2019 – President Emmanuel Macron of France and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China issued the Beijing Call for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change on 6 November  2019, in which they express their full support for multilateralism in international environmental governance.

The secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification welcomes the Declaration and its call. For far too long, the potential of land to improve social, economic and environmental well-being, including tackling the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, has been grossly underestimated.

In the declaration, the leaders recall “the objectives, principles and commitment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as the three Rio Conventions” on biodiversity conservation, climate change and desertification and land degradation. 

They also recall that “biodiversity loss and climate change threaten global peace and stability, food security, sustainable development and human health, and are closely intertwined with the state of the oceans, forests and land degradation.” 

Welcoming the recently published authoritative science reports on biological diversity by IPBES, and on land and on oceans by the IPCC, the two leaders recognize the need to “promote and perform transformational changes to reduce the main drivers of biodiversity loss,” including “land use”.

They state their bold commitment to move to a green and low-carbon and climate-resilient development, but also call on countries, companies, NGOs and citizens to also take a range of actions, among them two that relate to the Convention.

First, “to capitalize on the Nature-based Solutions Coalition led by China and leverage Nature-Based Solutions to coherently address biodiversity loss, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and land and ecosystem degradation,” highlighting that the Solutions are essential in the global efforts to achieve the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement goals as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Second, they call for a commitment “to take appropriate and ambitious actions to halt and reverse degradation of, inter alia, terrestrial ecosystems… and restore at least 30 per cent of degraded ecosystems that are restorable,” noting that 2021-2030 is the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

To date, over 120 countries that are Party to the Convention have set voluntary targets to restore degraded areas in their countries or are in the process of doing so. More countries have requested our support in developing innovative solutions that turn degrading areas into healthy ecosystems. Initiatives that, at once, bring the multiple benefits of recovering lost biodiversity, mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts such as drought and building the resilience of communities and their environment. 

I, and my team at the UNCCD, are fully committed to supporting the fulfilment of this declaration and will work with all stakeholders committed to fighting desertification and land degradation, in the spirit of cooperation, for the benefit of nature and of present and future generations.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.