On 11 May 2022, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, hosted the official opening of the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in those countries experiencing severe drought and/or desertification, especially in Africa (COP 15).
The Republic of Belarus, having been for the past two-year cycles the Chair of the Regional Committee for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), Annex V to this Convention, delivered a speech on behalf of this Region.
In the speech, it was noted that the pandemic had become a serious challenge to humanity. It had affected people’s incomes, and then we needed to make every effort to ensure that the conservation and restoration of lands would become one of the main factors improving the well-being of people, and the consequences of drought would affect the well-being of people to the least possible extent.
Target 15.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals has given significant impetus to the implementation of the Convention, and setting voluntary targets related to land degradation neutrality (LDN) helps countries mobilize financial resources and technical capacity.
CEE Parties highly appreciated the efforts of the Global Mechanism of the Convention to support countries in the development of transformative LDN projects and called for a focus on helping countries develop cooperation with new financial partners using a synergistic approach and further mobilize additional financial resources to ensure the speedy integration of developed projects.
CEE countries also expressed their gratitude to the Convention’s Secretariat, the United Nations Environment Programme and the Government of the Republic of Korea for ensuring the continuation of the Greening Drylands Partnership, which supports countries in the practical implementation of LDN goals and restoration of degraded ecosystems, such as forests and peatlands.
CEE Parties welcomed the development and strengthening of relations with other related Conventions, international organizations and institutions, and supported the efforts of the Secretariat and the Global Mechanism in the development of partnerships at the sub-regional and regional levels to contribute more efficiently to capacity development, especially in such areas as the implementation of LDN measures, drought mitigation and combating of sand and dust storms.
Gratitude was expressed to the Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought for the comprehensive consideration of drought issues and preparation of a corresponding report. Recommendations of this Group should be considered as a basis for further action in the field of drought.
CEE countries (CEECs) encouraged the Secretariat and the Global Mechanism, in collaboration with Partners, to continue to assist the Parties in preparation and implementation of National Drought Management Plans and CEECs are open to discuss proposals related to the Drought Resilience Accelerator. Countries also encouraged the Secretariat and the Global Mechanism to continue the development of the sand and dust storms’ tool and to support country capacity of using it.
An important role of the science-policy interface in the work carried out over the past two years was noted, and the goals of the Science-Policy Interface work programme for 2022-2023 of the Convention related to sustainable land management systems and a problem of an expansion of a dryland area were supported.
CEE Parties are strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation in the field of drought management, using the platforms of existing scientific and technical centers and institutions dealing with desertification, land degradation and drought issues.
The Global Land Outlook 2 was recognized as the informative, evidence-based and policy-oriented flagship edition of the Convention.
CEE Parties expressed their readiness for an open and constructive dialogue with a view of elaborating of decisions at COP 15 that would facilitate the improved implementation process of the Convention in the current global context.
Since the chairmanship in the CEE Regional Committee is limited to two consecutive cycles, Belarus has delegated this honorary mission to Armenia, which was supported by all COP 15 participating countries of the Region.