Caux Dialogue Highlights Links between Land Restoration and Peace

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by Delia Paul, Thematic Expert for Poverty Reduction, Rights and Governance (Malaysia/Australia)


The Caux Dialogue on Land and Security (CDLS), a partnership initiative, has called for scaling up land restoration efforts around the world to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030. In their seven-point communiqué, CDLS participants emphasized land restoration as central to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate. SDG target 15.3 calls for striving to achieve a land degradation-neutral world by 2030.

CDLS took place from 11-15 July 2017 in Caux, Switzerland. The dialogue is an annual event jointly convened by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Secretariat, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Caux-Initiatives of Change Foundation (IofC), and the Initiatives for Land, Lives and Peace (ILLP), a programme of Initiatives of Change International. The 2017 dialogue was the fifth such event.

Pradeep Monga, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, stressed that land restoration and peace go hand in hand.

In the opening address, Pradeep Monga, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, noted the links between land, conflict, drought and migration. He announced the forthcoming launch of a fund for financing the land degradation neutrality (LDN) target in the SDGs (target 15.3), which will provide US$300-500 million to enable countries to scale up their projects toward meeting this LDN target. He stressed that land restoration and peace go hand in hand, and will require building partnerships at the global, regional and national levels, with CDLS serving as “a good step forward” in this direction.

Luc Gnacadja, Chair of the Strategic Council of the Sahara and Sahel Observatory and former Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, called for climate finance, which amounted to US$331 billion in 2014 and US$391 billion in 2015, to be spent at the local level in countries where land degradation is occurring. He emphasized that investment must be ‘climate-compatible’, and that developing countries do not need charity, but rather, resources for infrastructure.

Other speakers included: Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Zimbabwe Minister for Environment; Yousif el Tayeb, Executive Director of the Darfur Development and Reconstruction Agency; Julia Marton-Lefevre, former Executive Director, IUCN; Sofia Faruqi, World Resources Institute; Patrick Worms, World Agroforestry Centre; and many leaders of land restoration initiatives around the world.

In the working sessions, participants discussed planning and financing large-scale land restoration, and considered various business models. They discussed ways to promote a “culture of peace” around shared ecological resources. Some of the initiatives discussed were: making open-source software available for small-scale farmers to undertake digital monitoring of environmental indicators on their own farms; using drones to plant trees; instituting 20-year planning cycles for investment in large-scale landscape restoration; and reintroducing yeheban indigenous drought-resistant shrub, to northern Somalia.

The seven-point CDLS communiqué issued at the close of the meeting called on leaders and stakeholders at all levels to: undertake systems change in agriculture, including incentives for farmers to remove carbon from the atmosphere through land restoration; work with local communities and at the landscape level where conflicts can be prevented or resolved; strengthen the capacity of those working on ground-level initiatives; promote women’s engagement and create land-based jobs for youth; increase resilience to drought by strengthening early warning systems, enhancing vulnerability assessments, and putting in place appropriate policies, investment and risk mitigation; promote public financing to scale up land restoration efforts and reward small farmers for their global social and ecological services; and use climate finance and “restoration bonds” in the financing mix.

The communiqué acknowledged the legacy of unjust land and wealth distribution from colonial times, which laid the foundation for present-day land degradation and conflict.

CDLS 2017 brought together senior representatives of governments, parliaments, international organizations, financiers, business leaders, NGOs and media from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Approximately 150 people took part in the event, which comprised: daily plenary sessions; workshop discussion streams on restoration, business, and peace and governance; and small dialogue groups that promoted joint reflection on the content of each day.

A parallel ‘Invest in Peace’ conference took place at Caux from 13-15 July. It brought approximately 30 investors together with scientists and peace building organizations, supported by IofC Sweden and the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation.

CDLS is hosted annually at the Caux Palace Conference Centre. The Caux-IofC Foundation is the Swiss body of the Initiatives of Change (IofC). [IofC Caux Web Page on CDLS] [CDLS communiqué] [ILLP Web Page on CDLS] [CDLS Programme] [Invest in Peace Web Page] [Caux Conferences Website] [UNCCD Website]

This article was first published by IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub. Read it here.
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