Caux Dialogue on Land and Security comes to a close

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Photo_group_3NGOs, government officials, and businesses are ‘not natural bed fellows’, as our speaker Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, pointed out, but nonetheless, here they were, united at Caux, trying to find solutions to issues surrounding land degradation and gender land ownership rights.

This morning’s speeches really reflected this shared mentality. Monique Barbut, our first speaker, told us of the importance of restoring degraded lands as a low-cost means to reduce up to 30% of CO2 emissions. She also emphasized the importance of the role that women play in land ownership and maintenance, highlighting that production would increase by approximately 30% if women were more involved. Furthermore Barbut called for better land use planning and the promotion of a better understanding of the economics of land.

When our second speaker, Julia Marton-Lefèvre Director General of the IUCN, took to the floor, she apologized for the similarities between her speech and that of the previous speaker, which highlighted the overlapping issues which they are both confronting. Realizing this herself, Marton-Lefèvre thus emphasized the relevance of using existing structures to find solutions for these problems, instead of creating new ones. She spoke about the need for concrete solutions, and praised programmes currently in place, which give people achievable goals to aim for, such as the Bonn Challenge, which has already achieved 40% of its 2020 goal to restore 150m hectares of degraded land. With regards to gender equality and the economy, Marton-Lefèvre emphasized the importance of Gender Equality lists in maintaining the gender balance, and also the need to communicate the cost of land restoration in monetary terms – to get people’s attention – and then to emphasize the improved environmental and lifestyle impacts it will have on the world.

These speeches were followed by questions from the audience, where topics such as GM food and trust issues were posed to a panel comprised of the speakers and M.A. Swazuri. Pre-empting moderator Martin Frick’s closing remarks, Marton-Lefèvre suggested that each person return next year with a friend from outside the field, in order to raise awareness for the issues discussed in this conference When the CDLS conference ended, a Kenyan participant who works on environmental issues summed it up by saying that she can feel quite alone in her struggle, but here she was reassured to see so many people from such diverse backgrounds all working towards the same goal, ‘we’re all on the same page’.

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