It is expected that there will be 196 countries in Abidjan to combat desertification

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The 15th session of the Conference of the Parties, which opens on Monday 9 May in the Ivorian capital, aims to find ways to combat desert encroachment, deforestation, depletion of arable land or soil pollution. The conference begins with a summit of heads of state directly concerned with the phenomenon.

Less well-known than its “big sister” on climate, this 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), addresses issues that are just as important. It happens at a time when, according to the United Nations, 41% of the world’s land is degraded. And the pace is increasing: every year, 12 million hectares of land are lost, an area the size of Benin or Belgium.

Nine African heads of state, including Nigerian President Mohamed Bazoum, his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi and Togolese Faure Gnassingbe, are expected to arrive in Abidjan on Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara. French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will participate in the discussions via video link.

call to action »

For ten days, negotiators from 196 countries will try to agree on common goals to combat soil degradation over the next ten years. The theme of this event – “Lands. Life. Heritage: from an unstable world to a prosperous future” – is A call to action to ensure that the Earth, which is the source of our life on this planet, continues to benefit present and future generations ,” confirms the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in a press release.

► To listen too: It’s not windy – what are the challenges for COP15 to desertification?

Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, explains that one of the main issues that need to be addressed is related to drought. ” It is becoming more and more frequent and more deadly, and the COP is expected to take strong decisions on drought to reduce the risks it poses to humanity. »

But these droughts are not the only ones responsible for soil degradation, as our correspondent in Abidjan confirms, Peter Pinto. Pollution of all kinds associated with human activities also leads to the destruction of arable land. Modern agriculture also plays a major role. It is notably responsible for 80% of deforestation. Thus Africa loses 4 million hectares of forests annually. However, an additional 6 million hectares of land will have to be brought into production each year between now and 2030 to meet the food needs of the planet in the face of population growth.

land repair

How do we increase yields without impoverishing the soil or destroying forests? How can the encroachment of arid lands be mitigated? How do we provide opportunities for people directly affected by these disasters? Twenty solutions will be discussed at COP15, including the critical issue of land recovery. ” The global economy has been severely affected by the pandemic and now by conflicts such as the war in Ukraine which have had very serious consequences for agricultural production and food distribution in the world.Ibrahim Thiaw explains. So land reform provides opportunities for all countries in the world to achieve better production. »

The question of the Great Green Wall, a pharaonic project aimed at restoring one hundred million hectares of arid land in Africa by 2030 on a strip of 8000 km from Senegal to Djibouti, must be addressed especially during the work that will be completed today. May 20.

► To read also: Desertification is on the increase but solutions exist

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