WINDHOEK, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Government ministers and other heads of delegation from 195 parties to a UN special convention on fighting expanding deserts across the globe started on Monday a two-day meeting here.
The high-level gathering begins as the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which opened in the Namibian capital on Sept. 16, went into its second week. The participants will discuss in the form of three round tables on topics including achieving a land degradation neutral world, promoting good practices in implementing the convention, and scaling up investments in avoiding land degradation and restoring degraded land.
In a message sent to the meeting, UN General Secretary Ban Ki- moon pointed out that healthy land is a prerequisite for food and water security and necessary to avert political instability.
"We need a paradigm shift to land stewardship. We need to work with countries and local communities to protect and sustain the world's fragile drylands and restore degraded land. This conference, under the theme 'A Stronger UNCCD for a Land- Degradation Neutral World', can make a valuable contribution in defining the way forward", said Ban.
Luc Gnacadja, outgoing Executive Secretary of UNCCD, said government officials and other key stakeholders participating in this high-level segment are supposed to share their guidance on how to build a stronger UNCCD, on how to overcome the hurdles of scaling up and disseminating good practice as well as their reaction to the promising evidence emerging from the work on the economics of land degradation.
They are also expected to bring political momentum to the deliberations of parties on the best options to foster the implementation of the convention, which was adopted in 1994 to counter the destructive force of desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through international cooperation.
A summary of the outcomes of the round-table discussions will be submitted to the COP11 meeting for further consideration.
At last year's "Rio+20" summit on sustainable development, world leaders pledged to strive to achieve a land degradation neutral world.
Such a world will be realized by way of preventing the degradation of healthy lands through sustainable land management and restoring land that is already degraded, according to the UN's plan.
To this end, the UNCCD secretariat is proposing that UN member states agree to a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on realizing zero land degradation by 2030.
"Land degradation and drought are drying up the future we want. I am fully convinced that our generation can go land-degradation neutral and can stop creating man-made barren lands or deserts", said Gnacadja.