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COP 15 : World Leaders at the Abidjan Summit on Desertification Unanimously Agree Time

To Safeguard the Future of Land is Now Heads of States and governments at the fifteenth session of the Conference of Parties(COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) have made a clarion call to the international community to take urgent measures to avert loss of live and source of livelihood threatening the world today as result of the devastating effects of desertification, land degradation and drought.

Speaking at the Heads of States summit before the opening of the COP 15, the President of Cote D’Ivoire His Excellency Alassane Ouattara declared « Our summit has to be one of hope, collective mobilisation of States and developmental partners in favour of initiatives that restore the land and reconstitute the forestry patrimony of our nations. We have to use all the resources of our convention to respond to food needs for the population of the world which is steadily increasing » Madame Amina Mohammed, Deputy Vice-Secratary general of the United Nations insisted on the need of securing a sustainable and inclusive future « We are halfway to the Sustainable Development Goals which remains our best hope for building a sustainable and inclusive future. The ground under our feet is the perfect foundation on which to build that future »

Speaking at the summit, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid pointed out the crucial role of land in attaining the 2030 sustainable development goals « Productive land is essential for global food security and ecosystem health, as well as for maintaining stable livelihoods« . This is a prerequisite for the success of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, progress on the Rio conventions on biodiversity and climate change and the fight against land and sea pollution. On his part, the Secretary General of UNCCD, M. Ibrahim Thiaw, noted « The moment has come for us to act.There will be no future for our children nor the planet if we maintain the status quo. COP15 is a moment for us to make history as a global community to put the people and planet on a new oath, on the path of life, to recover from the trials of COVID 19 and to move towards prosperity. Decisions arrived at here at COP15 must be transformative in order to achieve land restoration and drought resilience the world dreams of »

The summit concluded with the adoption of the Abidjan Call which urges nations to give utmost priority to the isdueof drought and strengtgening the commitment to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030. The leaders’ call to action responds to an urgent warning from the UNCCD that nearly 40% of land is already degraded, with disastrous consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods.


The status quo will by 2050 lead to a degradation of 16 million square kilometers (almost the size
of South America) with 69 gigatonnes of carbon emited into the atmosphere. Whereas, land
restoration would help reduce the 700 million people at risk of being displaced President Ouattara also announced the Abidjan initiative dubbed ‘Abidjan Legacy ».

This ambitious program aims to enable Côte d’Ivoire to integrate into its development strategies,
approaches for sustainable soil management and the restoration of severely degraded forest ecosystems and will require for it’s implementation, the mobilisation of 1.5 $ billion over the next five years.

Among the first commitments made during the summit to achieve this goal are those of
the African Development Bank, the European Union, the Green Growth Initiative and the World
Bank Group.

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