Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Cook Islands at UN Convention on land degradation

12 October 2011, Changwon, Korea - There is a delegation of two representing the Cook Islands at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, in Korea.

Land degradation is of major concern to the Cook Islands, as it can have a major impact upon local communities in the island nation.

“Land degradation issues are so closely tied to our lagoon areas, any development or unsustainable practises that happen on our lands can impact upon our lagoons including through sedimentation in our lagoons,” said Louisa Karika the Sustainable Land Management Project Coordinator of the Cook Islands National Environment Service.

Louisa Karika interviewed by a Korean radio station at the UNCCD COP 10
She began her involvement with the UNCCD negotiations on behalf of the Cook Islands in 2007.

“It is hard to separate land degradation concerns from biodiversity and climate change issues on small islands like the Cook Islands because our environment is so interrelated.  Our land management is so closely tied together with other environmental concerns that we cannot manage them in isolation.” 

As a party to the UNCCD there are conditions and indicators which the Cook Islands must report against.  It is at this Conference that support for activities to stop land degradation is being sought by the Cook Islands.

“We have a lot of problems in terms of funding these activities and at times, it can be seen as an additional burden.  At this meeting we are looking to find ways to support the implementation of this convention to stop land degradation through activities that are relevant to us in the Pacific.”

Science is a major part of this UN Convention, as it is through science and research that the progress of the convention in each of the parties can be determined.  It has been said that more than 12 million hectares of productive land is lost due to desertification every year the equivalent of losing an area the size of South Africa every decade.

Tavake Manuel-Karika
Tavake Manuel-Karika the Agriculture research officer of the Ministry of Agriculture is also at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD to contribute towards the scientific aspects of this Convention.  He is the alternate science and technology correspondent to the Convention on behalf of the Cook Islands.

For the Pacific region, strengthening land quality to support livelihoods and biodiversity is vital. 

“Agriculture is an important part of ensuring sustainable land practices, it is through working with local growers in the Cook Islands to promote sustainable land management to reduce land degradation can take place.”

“We work closely with the ministry of agriculture, they are one of our partners for this convention and they are fully supportive of allowing Tavake to take part in these meetings.”

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