Communiqué – Partnership for Africa to combat desertification: cooperation between the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Japan International Cooperation Agency
Monique Barbut, the United Nations Under Secretary-General and the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and Noriko Suzuki, Senior Vice President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) met today at the JICA Headquarters in Tokyo to discuss possible areas of cooperation for Africa’s development.
Despite the fact that about 874 million hectares of Africa's land – 20 times more than arable land in Japan - is considered suitable for agricultural production, about 83 percent of which have been seriously affected by desertification. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, desertification could cost a loss of natural capital valued at an estimated USD1 to 3 billion per year.
On the other hand, improving land and water management on just 25% of sub-Saharan Africa’s 300 million hectares of prime cropland would result in an additional 22 million tons of food. This is a significant opportunity for Africa’s development where more than 90% of the economy depends on a climate-sensitive natural resource base like rain-fed, subsistence agriculture. Restoring land will increase food security and income of the land users most of whom are the poorest farmers. This in turn helps avoiding unnecessary movement of people, and reducing current and potential fighting over resources in degraded areas. Desertification is a cause and consequence of poverty and a push factor of migration, which can be linked to greater insecurity. Therefore, addressing desertification is a key to achieving sustainable development for Africa while contributing peace and stability to the region and around the world.
Against this backdrop, Barbut and Suzuki agreed to find areas of cooperation for Africa which bring multiple synergetic benefits to ongoing programmes and projects of respective organization, especially with regard to fight against land degradation, desertification and mitigation of drought. Earlier, UNCCD and JICA agreed to co-partner “African Initiative for Combating Desertification to Strengthen Resilience to Climate Change in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa”, along with the Government of Kenya, the Government of Senegal and other partners. The areas of further exploration were discussed on the following:
- Support to countries to promote measures to combat desertification particularly through networking, knowledge-sharing and improving access to finance.
- Support to countries to achieve land degradation neutrality in view of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 15.
- Addressing the root causes of instability in Africa, particularly migration and conflict related to natural resource degradation through harmonization with 3S Initiative on Sustainability, Security and Stability.
Further, joint outreach and awareness-raising activities were proposed, taking opportunities of major global platforms on desertification and Africa’s development such as Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD) and the UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP). The next UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP13) is scheduled from 4-15 September 2017 in Ordos, China.
Stressing the global benefits of restoring Africa’s land, Barbut said, “JICA’s long history of development support is well recognized in Africa. Land is still the most important mechanism for lifting millions of people from poverty, and our partnership in sustainable land management and drought management will accelerate the pace towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals on Land, Poverty and Climate in Africa .”
Suzuki commented, ”Countries’ ownership and global partnership are indispensable to addressing the mounting development challenges in Africa and achieving the world that no one left behind. The partnership with the UNCCD which plays a critical role in Africa as a convention to combat desertification is a great opportunity for JICA to accelerate our contribution to Africa’s development and peace and stability in the world.”
At the end of the meeting, Barbut and Suzuki agreed to continue the dialogues towards developing concrete joint partnership aiming tangible outcomes.
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The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the only legally binding international agreement on land issues. The Convention promotes good land stewardship. Its 195 Parties aim, through partnerships, to implement the Convention and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The end goal is to protect our land, from over-use and drought, so it can continue to provide us all with food, water and energy. By sustainably managing land and striving to achieve land degradation neutrality, now and in the future, we will reduce the impact of climate change, avoid conflict over natural resources and help communities to thrive.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), as the implementing agency for providing Japan’s official development assistance (ODA) in an integrated fashion, carries out international cooperation with developing countries. JICA supports the resolution of problems faced by developing countries by combining a variety of approaches as well as expertise, technologies and funds owned by Japan with the vision of “dynamic development that benefits all people.” JICA has set four Strategic Objectives adapted to the agendas of the three Rio conventions and the SDGs, which include sustainable use of natural resources to improve livelihoods of vulnerable communities.