Friday, October 21, 2011

Scenes from UNCCD COP 10

21 October Changwon Korea - Photos by SPREP

L - R Albert Williamsn Vanuatu, Hon Stehens Kalsakau, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Vanuatu

Outside the Conference venue is the opportunity to experience Korean culture

SPREP photo opportunities with other UNCCD COP 10 participants

Explaining how the Eco-robot works

Osea Bolawaqatabu the Director for Land Resources Planning and Development of the
Department of Agricultre in Fiji

Volunteers of the UNCCD COP 10 gather for a group photo

SPREP's Nanette Woonton takes photo with UNCCD COP 10 volunteers

Picture by Makhmudjon Eshonkulov, Uzbekistan

Pacific delegates take a break outside the Rio Ecosystems Pavilion

Tyrone of Nauru visits exhibitions at the Rio Ecosystems Pavilion

Leaving messages outside the Conference venue

The messages to save Planet Earth

The Pacific meet with the Global Environment Facility

Delegation from Kiribati

Negotiating at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD

21 October 2011, Changwon Korea - One of the issues followed closely by the Pacific at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 10) has been that of the Global Mechanism. 

This is a specialised institution dedicated to mobilising resources to support developing countries to increase investments into Sustainable Land Management in order to help reverse, control and prevent land degradation and desertification.

Negotiations at the UNCCD COP 10 have revolved around the operation of the Global Mechanism as well as the location.  The headquarters of the GM is currently hosted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, based in Rome.  The Secretariat of the UNCCD is based in Bonn, Germany.

We interviewed Louisa Karika of the Cook Islands Delegation who has closely followed this thread of negotiations over the past few years.

L - R Louisa Karika Cook Islands, Maria Elder Fiji

Q.  Tell us about the negotiations process on this particular issue, how has it been?
“For me this whole process started at the last Conference of the Parties in Argentina in 2009, it was there that an agreement was not reached so I took this up again during these negotiations in Korea.  Negotiations can last all day and night, and go on like this all week, and you often end up cold, hungry and frustrated by the lack of progress! 
It has been nice to see a lot of familiar faces and renewing friendships with negotiators for other regions and groups, we spend so much time in one room together during negotiations that we end up friends, even if we are opposite sides of an issue, and we always find a way to have a laugh.”

Q.  How have the negotiations been this time?
“This year we actually started on the second day of the conference and I think it was good as it allowed for discussions over what the issues and viewpoints were before we actually went into text negotiations.  I think this helped as we were able to agree in principle on what kind of outcome we wanted to see from our negotiations earlier on.  We then started negotiating text after that and since then we have been working pretty much day and night, that’s a lot of hours!”

Q. So for someone who doesn’t know about negotiations, what happens inside the negotiating room?  What happened with this particular issue?
“We negotiate text and concentrate on the language of a decision to make sure it says what we mean. We will work this way until it is agreeable to everyone and we reach consensus on different parts of the text.  You can come across what we call ‘sticky points’ which are those that we can’t agree on but you can’t move forward we have to overcome these sticky points.   For example during the last two days we were really stuck on an issue and we basically spent one full day negotiating on one paragraph.  In order to make progress through the text, especially since we had already spent so long trying to find a compromise, the Chair of our contact group called a smaller informal group made up of representatives from each party and we basically sat in a small group on chairs and talked about our issue.  By doing this we were able to negotiate in one hour what we could have spent a whole day trying to achieve – and that was an agreed text.”

Q.  So you finally reached a consensus on this issue?
“We agreed on a number of governance and institutional issues of the Global Mechanism which includes  a revision of the Memorandum of Understanding between the host of the GM – the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD.  We have agreed to a process for implementing these changes and tabled the decision on the location of the GM until the next Conference of the Parties. 
We also agreed that during the intercessional period (the two years in between each COP) the Executive Secretary in consultation with the COP Bureau will review proposals for housing the GM based on costs, synergies, operational modalities, governance efficiency etc so that come the next COP we are recommending that a decision on this issue be made as all the information will be before us.”

The draft decision prepared was approved by the Committee of the Whole to go before the Conference of the Parties for a final outcome on Friday evening.  It was expected that the final meeting of the 10th Conference of the  for the UNCCD was to start on friday night.  This interview story was completed early Friday evening.

For more on the final outcome of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD please visit:

Pacific voice raised at UNCCD COP 10

21 October 2011, Changwon Korea - Several Pacific island nations were given a special mention during the last meeting of the Asia Pacific Group at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, in Korea today.
The increasingly positive involvement of the Pacific Island delegates in negotiations was mentioned on several occasions.  Compliments have been made on the growing numbers of Pacific island delegates attending the UNCCD negotiations as well as their active participation .
“In the past I have not seen such active participation from the Pacific islands but more recently I have noticed our friends from the Pacific are not only engaging themselves in the contact group but also negotiating the text with our European Union and African friends,” said Chencho Norbu the Director of the Department of Agriculture from Bhutan.  He was also the Chair of the Committee of the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC).
L - R, Bruce Jefferies SPREP, Louisa Karika Cook Islands, Chencho Norbu CRIC Chair
“I was very pleased to note this development and I am saying that I hope this will continue in the future. If we move forward collectively we can raise our Asian and Pacific voice and this is something, it’s a big step and I feel proud to be a part of the Asia Pacific region.”
Bhutan ratified this convention in 2003 and Norbu began following and attending the negotiations in 2004. At this Conference, Norbu’s term as the Chair of the CRIC comes to an end. The Chairs of the different committees are rotated amongst the sub regions at each Conference of the Parties.
Bruce Jefferies - Terrestrial Ecosystems Management Officer at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme commented that it was satisfying to hear comments such as this.
“It demonstrates that the investments made in SPREP facilitated Conference of the Party preparatory meetings are helping to build the capacity of Pacific Island staff.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Eco-robots in Korea

Eco-robot Dr Boomerang to recycle empgy cans and PET bottles
20 October 2011, Changwon Korea - Eco-robots could be the future of recycling. 

Bright and bold, these eco-robots are a common sight at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification with several of them on display for which Pacific island delegates have been interested in.

Also known as automated recycling equipment, there are different types of eco-robot types that dispose of bottles, cans, plastics, films, glass bottles and cell phones.  They automatically control the process of handling valuable recyclables including sorting, compressing, separating, storing and recovery.  The eco-robot also comes with an eject door for unidentified objects and can compress up to 30 pieces per minute.
Delegates from Vanuatu and Samoa trying the Eco-robot
They were developed by a company from Korea called Eco-save that was formed in 2007 and develops and manufactures environment-friendly recycling automated equipment. 
In order to use the Eco-robot you must be a member for which you are provided with a membership card.  You insert your card before inserting your recyclables into the eco-robot, from there your recyclables will be processed and the weight of your carbon dioxide emission will be shown to you and the points you receive for recycling will be added on to your membership card.
Eco-robot will calculate your emissions
 You can use the points on your card at supermarkets for discounts as well as purchases.
There are 60 eco-robot units in 30 stores nation-wide in Korea that are all linked together through an internet web base that is connected to a central operating system.  When problems occur with the eco-robot troubleshooting and repairs are done through the remote system.
To find out more about the Eco-robot please
Slot to insert bottles and cans in Eco-robot

Insert your membership card

Eco Robot Phone Moa to dispose and recycle used cell phones

Pacific Emerging Environmental Leaders’ symposium starts in Apia, Samoa

Reposted 17 October 2011, Apia Samoa - The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is hosting its first symposium for young professionals who are emerging as environmental leaders in the Pacific islands.

The Symposium, being held in Apia, Samoa from 16-20 October, was officially opened this morning by SPREP Director-General, David Sheppard.

Twenty young Pacific Islanders, hailing from a diverse range of professions, are participating in the Symposium, which will set the stage for the Pacific Emerging Environment Leaders’ (PEEL) Initiative, a longer-term programme aimed at supporting action by young professionals for environmental management and leadership.

Mr Sheppard congratulated participants on their selection and highlighted the value of young minds in developing innovative solutions to today’s problems. He made reference to the Pacific’s “youth bulge” and noted that in the region, the age group of 15-29 years accounts for a third of the working age population.  

“You are arguably the most important sector of the populations, particularly as you move into leadership positions in our Pacific countries over the next few years,” he said.

“You are the ones who will be influencing and setting policy which will determine how well our environment is managed in the future.”

The Director-General referred to pressing issues in the Pacific region, which included biodiverisity, waste management and climate change as an environmental issues cutting across all sectors. He observed the range of different work sectors from which participants hailed and stressed that this bode well for addressing environment in a multi-sectoral manner.

The 20 participants to the week-long Symposium were selected from over 100 applications received from across the Pacific islands region. Seema Deo, SPREP’s Education and Communications Adviser, and organiser of the initiative, explained that participants were selected on the basis of drive, commitment, ability to nurture the growth of others and on their written vision statements.

“All applicants were of an exceptionally high calibre, which made the selection process a challenge for the four-person panel,” she said. “We are however, confident that we have a dynamic, self-motivated group, capable of thinking beyond barriers and who can contribute to good decision-making that integrates environmental thinking in the development framework.”

“We also hope to be in a position to engage those who missed out on this Symposium through an electronic forum and, potentially, through face-to-face interactions as the PEEL gains momentum.”

The Symposium participants have a wide range of interests, including energy, health, marine conservation and agriculture and come from media, government, civil society and the private sector. They will spend the week developing leadership skills, identifying clear pathways for action and developing a framework for a capacity building programme for young professionals in the region.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Samoa and Palau: Sustainable land management

20 October 2011, Changwon Korea - Samoa and Palau are two of the 48 countries worldwide that are part of the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) project which aims to bring about effective land management in Least Developed Countries and Small Islands Developing States.

Funded by the Global Environment Facility and coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), this project has also helped these party countries implement the UN Convention to Combat Desertification through building local capacity.

According to a UNDP presentation, the project allows for approximately USD 500,000.00 per country to help bring about sustainable land management practices, and will come to an end next year in the Pacific region.

For the island nation of Palau, their project is focused on effective land use planning.  This involves taking into consideration the various social, economic and environmental factors that may contribute to land degradation when planning to use land for a range of purposes; it also involves linking comprehensive planning with best management practices. 
“This project has emphasised the value of land use planning and establishing more efficiency along institutional lines; SLM for Palau has not been focused on farming techniques, but rather more on how to facilitate stronger coordination among agencies involved in land management,” said Madelsar Ngraingas the SLM Project Coordinator through the Office of the PALARIS under the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce. 

“I think the project has been successful particularly with coordinating agency activities and building strong partnerships and collaborative efforts, particularly in terms of land use planning and other related activities outlined in the project.”

The Palau SLM project has three key areas which include; compilation of best management practices; development of a national land use policy that contains a financial strategy to sustain institutional operations and; supporting the mobilization of resources to help states develop master plans that ensure comprehensive planning and sustainable development.

Palau plans to complete their national activities for this project in December of this year with a project final evaluation to take place sometime early next year.
In Samoa the National Action Programme for sustainable land management was developed in 2006 outlines how the island nation is implementing the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.  The Sustainable Land Management Project is one of the activities under the national action programme.

“It is through this project that we have been able to attract significant attention to the threat of land degradation upon the survival of land based natural resources upon which sustainable livelihoods depend,” said Fa’ainoino Laulala, the Principal Land Policy and Development Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa.

“Degraded land areas are visible in Samoa, due to infrastructural development and the frequent occurrence of natural disasters such as the 2009 tsunami.  There is a greater need to protect our land at all costs through the promotion of sustainable land manage practices such as sustainable agriculture and wastershed management, to name a few, as well as through rehabilitation and conservation measures.”

A successful land degradation project in Samoa was that which restored 10 acres of largely degraded land that was an old government quarry site.  As part of the National Action Programme the site is now restored through the rehabilitation efforts to revive the health and integrity of terrestrial ecosystems of the site, it is now a national park reserved mainly for recreational purposes.

“Apart from the SLM project which we hope to successfully complete by December, the Vaitele Rehabilitation project through funding from a UNCCD – Venezuela grant, is one of our success stories.  Our main challenge now is to ensure we are able to sustain the ability to address desertification, land degradation and drought.  The 5th round of funding from the Global Environment Facility may have potential for us to address this challenge”

While at the UNCCD COP 10, Samoa has been in discussions with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), UNDP and the Global Mechanism about a project to help strengthen sustainable financing activities in Samoa.

The 14 Pacific island countries that are a party to this project are: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Pacific shares land managment experiences

20 October 2011, Changwon Korea - Pacific experiences and lessons from a global project on Sustainable Land Management were shared with a wide group of participants at a side event at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

In all there are 46 least developed countries and small island developing states have participated in this project which aims bring about effective land management through building capacity and mainstreaming.

The “Sustainable Land management: Impacts and Lessons from a Programmatic Approach to Building Capacities for Sustainable Land Management in Least Developed Countries – Small Islands Developing States” event was held at the Rio Ecosystem Pavilion.

Land degradation is widely recognized as a fundamental ecological problem that affects the economic and social wellbeing of people at national and local levels and undermines the functions and services of ecosystems at a global level.  Least developed countries and Small Island Developing (SID) states are particularly vulnerable.

Lessons were shared from the Africa, Asia, Caribbean and Pacific regions and these highlighted experiences in developing national and local human capacity to address Sustainable Land Management issues at a national level.

L - R William Ganileo Vanuatu, Annie Mauga Samoa
Samoa and Vanuatu made a joint presentation on Pacific regional lessons.

Achievements made in the region under this project include; seawalls to control coastal erosion; studies to minimise slopes erosion; coastal planting;  nurseries to rehabilitate degraded areas; resource and training centres; skills transfer in nursery establishment,  and grafting; agro-forestry; on-site demonstration training; and awareness at local, community and national levels.

The Pacific also experienced a number of challenges during the implementation of the project. These ranged from the acceptance of new hybrids versus local root crops, policy changes so as to address desertification, land degradation and drought as well as the introduction of new practices, to name only a few.

“One of the challenges we faced in the Pacific was changing the traditional systems of agriculture for communities and promoting new ways which will prevent degradation,” said Annie Mauga, the assistant coordinator of the Samoa Sustainable Land Management Project.
“Land ownership where the majority of Pacific land is traditionally owned can become a big challenge for us in the region,” added William Ganileo, the Sustainable Land Management Coordinator of Vanuatu.

Bruce Jefferies, SPREP Terrestrial Ecosystems Management Officer, who attended the presentations, commented after the side event that both staff members had made particularly useful contributions as they had focused their presentation material on “real world” examples.

“During international forums, such as the UNCCD COP10, presentations tended to dwell on theoretical ideas and concepts, it was important to share experiences from people that were actually working at an operational level.”

“This was an excellent side event!  We’d like to hear more planning experiences from actions that people are doing on the ground and what are the strategies to expand and consolidate those successes and lessons learnt,” said Tepa Suaesi, SPREP’s Environmental Planning Officer.

“It would be really interesting to know more about the numbers of people involved with these worldwide projects, how many are facilitating SLM initiatives and the level of participation."
To access the pdf versions of the Pacific power point presented please click here.

5 Minutes with Palau...

19 October 2011, Changwon Korea - Ms. Madelsar Ngraingas is the Sustainable Land Management Project Coordinator of the Office of PALARIS - Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce.  She is the sole delegate representing Palau at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

L - R Ms. Madelsar Ngraingas Palau, Ms. Cindy Ehmes FSM
Q. What has been the main issue for Palau at this 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification?
The harmonisation of requirements and sufficient distribution of resources across the 3 Rio conventions (UNCCD, Convention on Biological Diversity and Convention of the Framework of Climate Change) is of great interest to us in Palau.  Another thing is to find out how we can move our current national land management priorities forward with the assistance of the UNCCD 10 year strategy.  

For Palau, one of our key priorities is land use planning to avoid primarily the large sedimentation, soil erosion, coastal erosion that we are experiencing in the country. We are also interested in looking at the impacts of sea level rise and changing ocean temperatures as well as salt water intrusion in agricultural areas.  What we would like to be able to do is make sure that the UNCCD ten year strategic plan is aligned with our national activities to maximise on the support offered by the convention as well as avoid unnecessary duplication.

Why is it important for Palau to be at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD?
I am new to this convention, this is my first time, but I think the advantage of being a party to the UNCCD is that in this international setting, we can provide another perspective of some of the key issues faced by the Pacific.  

Palau, for example, is concerned with and driven by sustainable development, that is, a balance between economic growth and effective management of our natural resources.  Being here at this meeting and being a party to the UNCCD, which focuses on desertification, land degradation and drought, allows us to highlight our key issues in a global context, helping to ensure that adequate support and attention are given to Palau and the rest of the Pacific.  

5 Minutes with Samoa

19 October 2011, Changwon Korea -  The official delegation of Samoa at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification is Ms. Filisita Heather and Ms. Faainoino Laulala of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.  In the absence of the Minister and Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Heather is the Head of delegation in her capacity as the Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Land Management.

Ms. Laulala is the Principal Land Policy and Development Officer of the Ministry and is Samoa’s official correspondant of the UNCCD Committee on Science and Technology, she has been responsible for implementing the Convention at the national level.

L - R Ms. Fa'ainoino Laulala, Ms. Filisita Heather
Q. What is the key issue for Samoa at the UNCCD COP 10?
Land degradation is important for us in Samoa, and we are encountering drought as well this month.  I think this convention is a good way for us to look forward for long term solutions and activities to help address these issues.

Q. Why is it important for Samoa to be part of the UNCCD?The convention has parties from all around the world, for Samoa it’s important as it is through implementing the requirements of this convention that we have activities on the ground to bring about sustainable land management.  By being part of this convention we can also have access to funds or financial support to improve our land quality.

Ms. Fa’ainoino Laulala
Q. How important do you think the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification is, on the global scale?
Desertification for Samoa can be clearly understood in the context of land degradation and drought, it is the main issue of consideration for us in this Convention.  Our thanks goes out to the UNCCD for trying to make ‘Land’ clearly visible as the most basic natural resource which essentially connects us to all other parts of our natural ecosystems upon which humans can survive.

If we don’t ‘care for land, for land is life’ everything we do to address climate change and restore the loss of biodiversity, fails. 

We must be mindful that land physically houses all other environmental natural resources such as water, forests, biodiversity and soil, only then can we fully understand the intrinsic value of our land in the context of the sustainable development framework especially aswe approach the Rio+20 meeting come June 2012 which we hope will further highlight the need for synergetic efforts of the three Rio Conventions to address the global environmental problems.

We all need to place ‘land’ as an important issue of the highest priority on the national agenda through mainstreaming sustainable land management practices into national plans and effective implementation of these plans through law enforcement. We small island states are relatively small in size and are vulnerable to climate change and have a fragile resource base, so we rely on our land for survival.  I call on all to give Land and this convention the priority and support it deserves.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fiji committed to combatting land degradation

18 October,  Changwon Korea - Fiji is serious about their commitment to reducing land degradation. 
This was made clear during the United Nations General Assembly in September; the Prime Minister of Fiji, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainamarama, outlined the important role of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification for the island nation.
“We must encourage the donor community and the United Nations system to continue to address the needs of more than one billion inhabitants of dry lands by encouraging appropriate investments to contribute to achieving the internationally agreed development goals include the Millennium Development Goals,” presented the Prime Minister.
“In this regard, we should promote awareness and support the exchange of best practices based on lessons learned, and to mobilise adequate and predictable financial resources for these investments.”
Osea Bolawaqatabu the Director for Land Resources Planning and Development of the Department of Agricultre in Fiji is attending the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD in Changwon Korea this week.  He is pleased by the pledge of support made by the Prime Minister at the United Nations General Assembly.

“If there is to be mainstreaming of sustainable land management practices in Fiji, the political will must be in place,” he said.
“In this global era of escalating crisis and economic downturn where governments are striving to implement bailout policies with little attention to the potential of the land and soil it is crucial and important to highlight our commitment of being a county party to the UNCCD.”
The land and water resource management decree is now undergoing a final round of legal drafting and vetting with the office of the Solicitor General of Fiji before being submitted for cabinet endorsement next month.
“This will assist in the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in Fiji since it will ensure Government will allocate resources in the fight against land degradation.”
During the COP 10, discussions have been underway between Fiji, the Global Mechanism, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the United Nations Development Programme Fiji Country Office on the development of the UNCCD National Action Plan for Fiji.  It will be combined with their Integrated Financial Strategy to raise financial resources for activities related to the Sustainable Land Management Project. 
The National Action Plan will be aligned to the 10 year strategy of the UNCCD.
“In brief, this Nactional Action Plan will be the key instrument that carries out the UNCCD work in Fiji.  It will spell out the practical steps and measures for Fiji to take to combat land degradation,” said Bolawaqatabu.
“The formulation of our NAP will start next month and will be completed and presented to cabinet for endorsement in February next year.”
“It’s an exciting time ahead for the implementation of UNCCD in Fiji."
The 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification is held in Changwon, Korea from 10 - 21 October, 2011.

The Pacific at the UN Conference on Desertification

18 October, Changwon Korea - While many of you may wonder why the Pacific is a part of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, given we don’t have any deserts in the Pacific, the range of this convention goes beyond desertification to include land degradation and drought. 
For our corner of the world, land degradation and, as we are seeing right now in Tuvalu and some other small islands, drought is a crucial issue.  Without fertile land and adequate water Pacific livelihoods and our way of life is at risk.
SPREP and Global Mechanism meet with Pacific country delegates
This week in Changwon, Korea a team of three from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is providing technical and communications support to 10 Pacific island countries attending the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD.  This convention, which has 193 state party signatories, 14 of these are from the Pacific island region.
Inside the contact groups of the two week meeting, where the actual negotiations take place, the Pacific raises its collective voice as part of the wider Asia grouping to ensure that our concerns are heard amongst 193 other countries.
 As part of the support from SPREP, the inter-governmental environment organisation coordinated a regional preparatory meeting in August, for all Pacific parties to this convention to meet and form a united voice and way forward at the UNCCD COP 10. 
“The COP process provides an opportunity for the Pacific delegates to outline the role of their island nation in the global village,” said Bruce Jefferies the Terrestrial Ecosystems Management Officer at SPREP.
“We are aligned with the Asia Pacific region and it is easy to be subsumed by the big countries of Asia, such as India, Pakistan and Thailand, but we all experience similar problems, it’s just that in terms of scale the impacts are several times above what we experience in the Pacific, make no mistake the impacts on communities and natural resources are the same in our countries.”
One of the take home lessons for Jefferies was a presentation made during the first round table of the high level segment of the UNCCD by Dr Dennis Garrity, the Drylands Ambassador who shared a success story from North Africa in Burkina Faso where traditional and contemporary knowledge was combined with the vision and commitment of a local farmer. This involved planting indigenous trees, which in turn, progressively transformed degraded dry lands into productive forest and grazing lands. 
Jefferies is hopeful the Pacific would be able to adopt and apply this method into a Pacific success story using appropriate indigenous species.
“This was very impressive and has a lot of potential for us in the Pacific.  If we can develop the approach and find the right species, that can provide nutrients, fodder, timber and the ability to under plant productive crops this could be a good intervention for us in the Pacific as we have the advantage of working with smaller scale lands.”
Jefferies remains in Korea until the end of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD accompanied by Tepa Suaesi, the Environment Planning Officer and Nanette Woonton, the Media and Public Relations Officer.
The UNCCD COP 10 is held in Changwon, Korea from 10 October to 21 October, 2011

Pacific resources not to be taken for granted

18 October 2011, Changwon Korea - Understanding the resources we have in the Pacific cannot be taken for granted has hit home for the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Forest of Fiji, Viliame Naupoto. 

He is currently in Changwon, Korea to attend the high level segment of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
70% of the land degradation that happens occurs outside of the dry lands.  More than 12 million hectares of land is lost each year due to desertification, land degradation and drought, jeopardizing the livelihoods and survival of over one billion people in over 100 countries.
 “Our resources have to be managed sustainably now for us, and for future generations,” said Permanent Secretary Naupoto.

 “The little mistakes we make as far as our small resources are concerned have far bigger impacts than the little mistakes in the big countries.  We cannot afford to make mistakes with our small resources - we need to get it right.”

The high level segment of the UNCCD COP 10 revolves around round table sessions which begin with a panel discussion before opening up for interactive dialogue sessions between the parties.

UNCCD in the context of Rio+20: addressing desertification, land degradation and drought as a cornerstone of the green economy” was the topic of the second round table today.

In 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, three UN Conventions were formed to ensure sustainable development; the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework on the Convention of Climate Change and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. 

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of these Conventions for which the UN Conference on Sustainable Development will be held in Rio de Janeiro, more commonly known as the Rio+20.

Challenges to sustainable development that may be addressed at Rio+20 include issues of: access to renewable energy; water conservation; food security; ocean ecosystems; urbanisation; population dynamics; and disaster preparedness. 

Land issues are central to the majority of these issues. 

Discussions at the UNCCD COP 10 today indicated hope that that the Rio+20 can bring about a shift in the global understanding of the shared priority for the land agenda and understand the challenges of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DDLD).

“I think the three conventions resulted from Rio, link with each other,” said Permanent Secretary Naupoto.

“We cannot talk about biodiversity on its’ own, we cannot talk about climate change on its own.  They are all a part of each other and we need to remember this.  We need to make sure that the UNCCD is high on the agenda as without soil or land, what is there?”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Vanuatu calls for UNCCD to be a priority

Mr. Albert Williams, Vanuatu
18 October 2011, Changwon Korea - Calls for support to raise the priority of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to the same level of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework for Convention on Climate Change are often echoed at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD in Korea.

Albert Williams, the Director of Environment from Vanuatu has added his voice to others with this call for support.  He is one of a delegation of three from Vanuatu that has convened with the 193 parties at the convention this week.

“Without the UNCCD, if we don’t manage or finance this convention to a level where the needs of a country are met, then you are compromising what you want for biodiversity and climate change,” said Williams.

“Everything happens on land and the degradation of the land will add to the problems caused by biodiversity loss and climate change.  It is very important that the UNCCD gets the support and attention needed at national, regional and an international level.”

Land degradation is a key issue for Vanuatu.  William explains that pressure on existing prime agricultural land from residential sub divisions, deforestation and other activities has resulted in a loss of soil fertility in Vanuatu.

“This overarching threat will impact on our food security and livelihoods of our local communities”.

Williams was joined by the Minister for lands and natural resources, the Hon. Stehens Kalsakau and the Sustainable Land Management Coordinator Mr. William Ganileo this week in Korea for the second week of the 10th Conference of the Parties which opened this week with the High Level Segment.

Fiji and Niue: Food security talks at UN Convention on Land degradation

17 October 2011, Changwon Korea - Desertification, land degradation and drought and food security: Preserving the resource base for our food security was the topic of Round table 1 of the high level segment of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Korea today.

For Niue it is difficult to measure the effects of food security. 

According to the Associate Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Niue, Hon. Dalton Tagelagi explained that the low population of Niue places very little pressure on the available resource base on the island.

L - Associate Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Niue, Hon. Dalton Tagelagi

“This does not mean that it is not important, we too are taking all necessary precautions to ensure sustainable development at all levels with regards to resources we have contributing to food security in Niue.”

The Niue National Strategic Plan 2009 – 2013 addresses food security issues and the island nation currently has Food and Agriculture Organisation projects and activities on Food Security underway in Niue, spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

“We recognize the importance of preserving the resource base for food security and understand the effects of climate change together with land degradation in the agricultural sector with losses of some important plant species and the depletion of soil nutrients due to continuous burning and shifting cultivation.”

For the Fiji Permanent Secretary of Fisheries and Forest,  Mr. Viliame Naupoto after listening to the dialogue on desertification, land degradation and drought (also known as DLDD), he believes from an island viewpoint another "D" can be added to this acronym to include Disappearance of land.

“Our land is not only suffering from land degradation, but also disappearance due to the effects of climate change,” said Permanent Secretary Naupoto.

“We have some takeaway lessons here, when we hear what is happening in Africa and how they are working towards greening their bare areas of land, from Fiji’s perspective we need to make sure that we do not arrive at that stage.  Due to our small island size, we cannot afford for our land to be degraded to the extent that we are seeing in the bigger continents.”

While 41% of the earth’s land area are drylands that house two billion people, in the Pacific region only 2% is terrestrial while 98% is Ocean.  Permanent Secretary Naupoto points out that due to our land size, our ecosystems are very much interconnected from the top of the hills and mountains to our reefs and ocean.  When it comes to the issue of food security, our ecosystems play a large part.

“When we talk about food security we do not only talk about land issues we also talk about the fisheries issues as fish provides a big portion of our food security.  To combat land degradation and drought we must look at it with an ecosystem approach, what we do on land and in the hills it affects our seas.”

During day one of the High Level Segment the delegates finished the discussions of Roundtable one.  Still to be completed are Round table two and three which will continue through to the second and final day of the High level segment.