‘Involve private sector in land restoration’

TV Jayan Ankara | Updated on June 18, 2019

Cannot be left to governments alone, says United Nations body

It may be important to involve private sector in land restoration efforts as governments alone may not be able to carry out the job, said the head of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw.

“Land restoration cannot be left to governments. They cannot do it alone. There are about two billion hectares of land that need to be restored,” Thiaw told reporters on the sidelines of a function to mark the 25th anniversary of the UNCCD here in Ankara on Monday.

Most governments may have to review their land tenure systems so that the private sector gets interested in taking up this job. “It can tell the private sector, for instance, if you restore this land, I will give you concession for the next 50 or 60 years; it can then harvest and restore the land, rather than leave it barren,” said Thiaw.

The UNCCD is the world’s only agreement binding countries to tackle land degradation and desertification and mitigate the effects of drought. It is estimated that the world loses 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil, and dryland degradation reduces national domestic product in developing countries by up to 8 per cent annually.

The 14th edition of the Conference of Parties (CoP) to UNCCD to be held in New Delhi in September may discuss the issue of allowing private companies to take up land restoration. “My expectation is that at the CoP, we will have detailed discussions about the land tenure issue. Unless we resolve that issue, why would a private company invest on land restoration,” Thiaw asked.

Ambitious goal

Besides, as the CoP is coming up a year before the beginning of the new decade on eco-system restoration, which has been declared by UN General Assembly, all big UN agencies such as FAO, UNDP and UNEP are expected to declare their intentions to work together. “So that we achieve our ambitious goal of restoring hundreds of millions of hectares of land by 2030,” he said.

Another interesting point to be raised at the New Delhi summit is the rural-urban connection. Not many urban dwellers know they are impacting land far away from where they live. The world’s consumption patterns are not at all sustainable. Take, for instance, the famous Turkish coffee or the English Tea; there is nothing Turkish or English here, Thiaw said.

“They don't plant coffee here in Turkey nor does the UK produce tea. It comes from Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda or somewhere else. This is what we call tele-coupling, when the product is produced in one place and consumed somewhere else. The consumers do not even know from where the product is coming,” he said.

Migration issue

Land degradation has been one of the major reasons for forced migrations all over the world. Restoring land would mean less of such irregular migration. While the countries the migrants move into see this (migration) as a problem, the country from where they depart should see it as an even bigger problem. This is because those who are able to migrate are the educated and the crème de la crème of these societies.

“So when they leave, what it means is that you have fewer (skilled) workers, teachers, midwives, who should have stayed and built the economies. And when they migrate, if and when they reach the final destination, they will never do the job that they were trained for. More often than not, they will end up doing odd jobs, say, as sanitation workers or cleaning the roads,” Thiaw said.

The writer was in Ankara for the World Day to Combat Desertification, at the invitation of UNCCD

Published on June 18, 2019

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor