MINSK, 19 August (BelTA) – The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14) will take place on 2-13 September 2019 in New Delhi, India. Belarus is an active participant of the convention, therefore it is going to join the efforts to work out measures to protect and restore forests and peatlands as key tools in combating climate change, loss of bio-resources and land degradation, BelTA learned from UNCCD national focal point in Belarus Andrei Kuzmich.
“Belarus brings to COP14 (the 14th Conference of the Parties) national indicators of achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN) and the political will to implement them. We have amassed some experience is reversing land degradation, in particular, peatland restoration, and we are eager to share these results with other UNCCD Parties at COP14,” Andrei Kuzmich said.
An international project on restoration of drained peatlands, implemented with technical assistance from the Republic of Korea and UNCCD, resulted in more than a thousand hectares of degraded and inefficiently drained bogs restored in Mogilev Oblast, where land in some areas there still bears the scars of the Chernobyl disaster. Peatland restoration helps prevent possible cross-contamination of other areas as a result of peat fires and radionuclide migration.
On the one hand, at present the natural environment in Belarus does not allow for the extreme form of desertification. On the other hand, Belarus suffers from water and wind erosion, mineralization of the organic matter of peat soils, man-made contamination, soil disturbance during mining and other issues. Belarus is also experiencing higher air temperatures and more severe or frequent droughts, which is attributed to climate change. For example, the weather in April this year has never been so dry in Belarus since the 1940s.
Therefore, as early as 2015 Belarus' government passed a strategy to implement UNCCD and a national action plan to fight land degradation for the period of 2016-2020. An appropriate coordination council was set up under the chairmanship of the natural resources and environmental protection minister. Efforts to sustain and improve soil fertility and prevent land degradation were integrated in other national strategic documents – the national strategy for sustainable social and economic development of the Republic of Belarus till 2030, the national food security doctrine till 2030 and other documents.
“We expect COP14 to take decisions that will help governments to advance from setting national indicators for land degradation neutrality to achieving LDN targets. One of the key issues is mobilization of resources. It is also important to take stock of the country reporting after passing the new UNCCD Strategic Framework and to maintain access to extensive data on progress in achieving strategic goals and tasks of the convention, as well as Sustainable Development Goal 15 (target 14.3),” Andrei Kuzmich added.
The forthcoming meeting will be the first conference of the parties after passing the UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework. The majority of countries set national LDN targets and embarked on their implementation.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was passed 25 years ago to assist countries in addressing desertification, land degradation and drought. The global commitments of the convention were later incorporated into the UN Sustainable Development Goals.