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UN conference on desertification opens in Argentina

world Updated: Sep 22, 2009 10:16 IST
UN Convention to Combat Desertification

The ninth conference of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) opened here Monday with a call for concrete measures to fight land degradation.

"Planetary health is not on the right path," Argentine Environment Minister Homero Bibiloni said in his opening speech. "We have to go from documents to instruments."

Bibiloni said every year looks worse than the previous one as desertification and poverty rise, food security is jeopardised, flooding increases, and species and glaciers are lost.

UNCCD executive secretary Luc Gnacadja analysed the developments of recent years. First, he said, there was an energy crisis followed by a food crisis. Those have now almost been forgotten, he noted, as the world tackles a financial and economic crisis.

For Gnacadja the crisis is no excuse to avoid taking measures on land degradation, and instead it is an unprecedented chance to strive for more efficiency and more effectiveness in the effort to combat the effects of climate change.

The 12-day conference in Buenos Aires will bring together more than 2,000 people, including delegates from 191 countries, UN agencies, NGOs and others.

It is set to feature Tuesday-Thursday the UNCCD's first-ever scientific conference, with a view to providing common indicators to evaluate the impact and performance of measures to combat land degradation.

Some 40 percent of the earth's surface has been classified as dry land, and it holds one third of the world's population, according to the UNCCD.