UNCCD Africa Regional Preparatory Meeting - road to CoP 12
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The Government of the Republic of South Africa is greatly honoured to be the host of a meeting where the African Focal Points to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) discuss issues in preparation for the upcoming twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD (CoP 12) in Ankara, Turkey in October this year.
Africa’s desertification is strongly linked to poverty, migration and food security. South Africa, being the chair of the African group, would like to see a situation where concrete common positions will be reached during the meeting. This will make the coordination of tasks easier during the upcoming UNCCD CoP 12 negotiations. It is hoped that those who are party to this Africa Regional Preparatory meeting will also be present in numbers during CoP 12 to ensure that the ideas shared in this meeting and the common positions reached will have champions and defenders in Turkey in October 2015.
- The meeting has been organised to bring together all African Focal Points and experts on the UNCCD to come together and formulate regional positions on the different agenda items of the CoP.
- The meeting is also expected to develop coordination mechanisms and agree on task divisions among those African Focal Points who will lead and provide support to the African group in the negotiations of different agenda items.
The proposed agenda for CoP 12 presents issues that are outside the normal trend of the African agenda and these issues will determine the future of this Convention. For instance, the COP will have to come up with a strategy on the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets into the UNCCD implementation. This is very critical as global financial flows will now focus on the SDGs. It is therefore important that Africa positions itself correctly to benefit from resources available. The report of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN), which is said to have issues not fully agreed on will have to be aligned with the implementation of the SDGs moving forward.
Linked to the above agenda item, the CoP will also consider the implication of the post 2015 development framework and the SDGs for the delivery of the UNCCD science and policy efforts, including the review of the report of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) and its recommendations to the COP. The work of the CST provides the technical strategies and methodologies to engage in struggle against Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD). Therefore, it is important for Africa to move beyond 2015 with its global agenda, programmes of work for CST should be recognised and supported.
Potential discussions on the above-mentioned issues may call for the formulation, revision and implementation of action programmes differently from the current arrangement following the post 2015 sustainable development framework. This may require a review or recreation of the UNCCD Ten Year Strategic Plan and Framework. A strong African Position has to be crafted to properly guide Africa’s negotiators on this crucial subject.
The Secretariat has made a proposal under the subject on, “additional procedures or institutional mechanisms to assist the CoP in regularly reviewing the implementation of the Convention”. When the proposal was presented during the thirteen session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 13) no one was ready to discuss it as it is a sensitive issue touching on the institutionalised Convention procedures. The CoP will deliberate on this proposal and a resolution will be taken. Africa needs to take the available opportunity and deliberate on this very important issue with the aim of finding the best solution for the Convention.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will host its Twelfth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP12) in Ankara, Turkey, from 12 October to 23 October 2015. The conference will take place at the Congresium Ankara-ATO International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Decision-makers from 195 member states will attend COP12 to discuss solutions to issues related to desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD).
Land rehabilitation is one of the pathways to sustainable development. By rehabilitating degraded land, many of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) would be more attainable. Land that is properly nurtured fosters food and water security and reverses negative climate change impacts, such as forced migration, by cultivating opportunities for growth and ensuring stability. To invest in the land is to invest in sustainable livelihoods, therefore the goal of COP12 is to provide practical steps to make the rehabilitation of degrading land areas a reality. The Parties are also expected to identify ways to contribute to the success of the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris.
COP12 will begin with an opening plenary segment on 12 October. The high-level segment will take place on Tuesday, 20 October and Wednesday, 21 October. During the high-level segment, ministers and other heads of delegation will hold round-table discussions and special plenary sessions to identify possible solutions to water scarcity, land degradation and desertification while upholding efforts to mitigate the effects of drought and preventing further land degradation.
The COP’s two subsidiary bodies, the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) and the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC), will also convene in Ankara during COP12. The CST represents the scientific platform for collaborations with the UNCCD, and will meet for its 12th session. The CRIC is responsible for reviewing implementation efforts for the convention. It will convene for its 14th session.
COP delegates hope to strengthen and expand stakeholder engagement and encourage more involvement of the parliamentarians, civil society organizations and the private sector in identifying and developing solutions to land degradation. Through collaboration and policy implementation, achieving a land degradation neutral (LDN) world is within reach. The UNCCD also hopes to garner support for the Global Land Outlook, an in-progress publication to serve as a reference document for businesses looking to support sustainable initiatives. Finally, in preparation for the UNFCCC’s COP21 in December, COP12 participants hope to isolate key messages to include in climate change negotiations.
A lot more is planned around the COP. Ahead of United Nations General Assembly, the Economics of Land Degradation initiative will issue a report on the findings of the studies undertaken so far. Social media campaigns to mobilize public awareness and support for the COP outcomes will take place. A media training will be conducted for journalists, including non-sponsored journalists who apply for participation. Press conferences will be held to share the UNCCD’s perspectives and daily reports will be issued by the secretariat, Climate Change TV and the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, each with a different focus. Other events include the Rio Conventions Pavilion, the Business Forum, side events and exhibitions, and cultural performances by local and international groups.
A calendar of side and parallel events during COP 12 will be published in the Official Journal of the session and will also be available on the host country COP 12 website www.unccdcop12.gov.tr>. For any additional information on side events, please refer to the guidelines posted on the UNCCD website.
For more information regarding COP12, please visit the host country’s official website http://www.unccdcop12.gov.tr/cop12/default.html.
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