Thursday, October 13, 2011

UNCCD a priority for Fiji

13 October 2011, Changwon Korea - The Government of Fiji has announced their support for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification as an important agreement at the High Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly in September, which addressed the issue of desertification, land degradation and drought in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
For Maria Elder, the Science and Technical Correspondent of Fiji to this Convention, this is welcoming news.

“It is really helpful in terms of implementing the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Fiji as we have been working to mainstream sustainable land management in our country.  We are also reviewing our National Action Plan as part of our report due in 2012, and ultimately we need cabinet endorsement before we can take it to the UNCCD Secretariat.”
The statement made by the Prime Minister of Fiji, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, outlines Fiji’s commitment to combat continuous land degradation sharing the nations role in strengthening integrated water resource management, integrated land and coastal use planning and reforestation initiatives to complement the efforts to halt land degradation.
“We believe that we must prioritise sustainable land use, agriculture and food security as cornerstones of the green economy for poverty eradication and sustainable development,” he presented.
The Prime Minister of Fiji also called for a sustainable development target of ‘zero net land degradation’ and for the UNCCD to be an essential tool to achieve food security.
The full statement made is available below:

at the
19-20 SEPTEMBER 2011

19 September 2011

Distinguished Co-chairs and Excellencies,

My delegation’s participation at this first High-Level Meeting on today’s theme in the General Assembly is a testimony of the utmost importance that my Government attaches to the important global issues of desertification, land degradation and drought.  Reality would affirm that without addressing these issues, the world would not achieve its internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs. The Secretary-General’s Report clearly emphasises that desertification and land degradation are now pervasive problems in all ecosystems which affect us all in various ways, but has a disproportionate impact on many of the world’s poorest people.
For a small island developing State such as Fiji, the impacts of climate change pose immediate threats to our economy and our survival. 
Climate variability and the effects of El Nino and La Nina further exacerbate the vulnerabilty of our ecosystems and pose a greater risk to the sustainability of our environment.  The increasing occurrences of natural disasters make our land more susceptible to degradation and drought. These are challenges that we cannot escape from, the effects of which we must mitigate.
In mitigating these challenges, Fiji has put in place measures towards the sustainable management of our natural resources.  We have mainstreamed sustainable land management issues into most of the key sectors of its national strategic plan, and importantly, we have put in place appropriate laws and policies that ensure an integrated and comprehensive approach towards the effective implementation of the Convention (UNCCD). 
With a view to combatting continuous land degradation, not only have we focused on landuse, emphasis has also been placed on intergrated water resource management and intergrated land and coastal use planning.  In line with these strategies are our reforestation initiatives which have effectively complemented our efforts to combat land degradation. We believe that we must prioritise sustainable land use, agriculture and food security as cornerstones of the green economy for poverty eradication and sustainable development.
At this high level meeting, it is important for us to recognise the urgent need of exerting our collective efforts to addressing the issues at hand in a manner that further progresses the objectives of the Convention. 
As we look forward to Rio+20, my delegation wishes to submit the following points to be included in the outcome of this high level meeting:
(i)                    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 including the MDGs.  In this regard, we should promote awareness and support the exchange of best practices based on lessons learned, and to mobilize adequate and predictable financial resources for these investments.
(ii)                We need to strengthen our scientific capacity to understand and monitor the seriousness of the issues at hand.  For this reason, we support the establishment of a panel of experts to deal solely with the issue of DLDD.
(iii)               We should set ourselves a target of ‘zero net land degradation’ as a sustainable development target.
(iv)              We should make UNCCD an essential tool to achieve food security.

Fiji trusts that the outcomes of this high level meeting sets the global community on track, to effectively address and curtail the peril of desertification, land degradation and drought.

Thank you.

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