"Until now, each of us has kept trying to bring land tenure to the forefront of discussions about land degradation, sustainable agriculture, and reversing the climate crisis. Before, people spoke and only a few understood. Now, it is commonly accepted to link land tenure to land degradation,” - Dr. Valentin Ciubotaru, Executive Director at NGO BIOS
Executive Director at NGO BIOS, Dr. Valentin Ciubotaru, reflects on UNCCD COP 14’s recognition of land tenure and calls on ILC members to leverage joint commitments to achieve people-centred land governance.
The fourteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 14), acknowledged the link between responsible land tenure and the prevention of land degradation. The ten-day conference which convened in New Delhi, India, from 2-13 September 2019, gathered approximately 8,000 participants including more than 100 ministers and high-level officials and about 1,000 representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
This marks the first time land tenure was included on the agenda at a UNCCD COP. “Until now, each of us has kept trying to bring land tenure to the forefront of discussions about land degradation, sustainable agriculture, and reversing the climate crisis. Before, people spoke and only a few understood. Now, it is commonly accepted to link land tenure to land degradation,” says Dr.Valentin Ciubotaru, Executive Director at NGO BIOS and co-chair of UNCCD CSO Panel.
On the final day of the Conference, participants adopted the Delhi Declaration in which parties expressed commitment for a range of issues, including gender and health, ecosystem restoration, taking action on climate change, private sector engagement, Peace Forest Initiative and recovery of five million hectares of degraded land in India.
The ninth point of the Delhi declaration states: ‘we…reaffirm the relevance of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security for better access, control and stewardship over land and equitable tenure security, in accordance with relevant national legislation, for the implementation of the Convention and the promotion of sustainable land management.’
Overall, the UNCCD COP14 agreed on 36 decisions to ensure that the Convention’s goals for 2018-2030 are achieved. At the closing of COP14, UNCCD Executive Secretary Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw shared these takeaway messages:
- Land restoration is the cheapest solution to climate change and biodiversity loss
- Land restoration makes business sense if regulations and incentives to reward investment are in place
- Drought preparedness and response are critical in the face of climate change
- To put people first is to ensure gender balance, engage youth, secure land rights
The inclusion of Land tenure in the Delhi Declaration raises questions about whether countries will truly adopt responsible and inclusive land governance. However, Ciubotaru sees it as an opportunity for ILC members to join forces and push for change.
“197 countries in the world are finally encouraged to implement this decision. We have to help these countries monitor and take action,” says Ciubotaru, “We need to ask ourselves what each of us can do to implement at a local, regional and global level. We also need to identify and commit to regional and global priorities instead of thinking about an individual organisation’s priorities.”