By Stephen Leahy
CHANGWON, South Korea, Oct 25, 2011 (IPS)
Every six seconds a child dies of hunger-related causes.
That disturbing reality seems as remote as the moon here in the ultra-modern Changwon Convention Centre, where delegates struggled to create effective ways to stem the ongoing decline of food-producing lands.
Each year, 12 million hectares of land are lost where 20 million tonnes of grain might have been grown, according to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. And that loss of food-producing lands is unlikely to change in the near future, even as the final gavel fell in the early morning hours of Oct. 22 at the end the two-week biannual 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10).
“This conference has been highly successful,” said Lee Don Koo, minister of the Korean Forest Service and COP 10 president and host.
It was certainly the largest international gathering on land degradation, with 6,450 participants from 161 countries, including 83 ministers and deputy ministers. Lee Don Koo said this meeting sent a strong message to the world community about the need for strong, sustainable land management and for the pressing need to set targets to reduce land degradation.
“Our goal is to build a land-degradation-neutral world,” said Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the UNCCD. The target date to reach that goal is 2030, Gnacadja told IPS.
Gnacadja would like countries to officially adopt this goal at the RIO+20 conference in June 2012 in Brazil.
It has taken nearly 20 years to get to the point where there is agreement on 11 scientific indicators to measure land degradation and its impacts. Development and implementation of those indicators will take some years yet. The Convention has yet to address the economic and policy drivers of land degradation, acknowledged Antonio Rocha Magalhães, chair of the Committee on Science and Technology. Continue reading