Lesotho already ahead on COP15 agreed tasks

MATHATISI SEBUSI

MASERU – Lesotho is already implementing some of the recommendations that are being discussed at the conference of the parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The Director of Conservation from the Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation, Lerotholi Nkuebe, said this in an interview with Public Eye.

He was speaking from Abidjan where he is attending the COP15 conference. It is the second week of the conference of the parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) taking place in Abidjan where leaders from governments, the private sector, civil society and other key stakeholders from around the world are meeting to drive progress in the future of sustainable land management.

The COP15 meeting ends today. Nkuebe said Lesotho, through the Ministry of Forestry, Range, and Soil Conservation (MFRSC) with its development partners and relevant stakeholders, has been very sensitive in terms of encouraging involvement and inclusion of women and youth on land restoration decision-making and implementation activities.

Through the ministry of forestry, he said, Lesotho is implementing projects including Sustainable Land Management, Reducing Vulnerabilities on Climate Change, Improving Adaptive Capacities of Vulnerable Populations, to mention a few as part of its effort to combat the impact of climate change, capacitate people on climate change and reduce their vulnerability to the impact of climate change and restore the country’s degraded land.

Nkuebe further noted that Lesotho has also raised awareness on the impact of land degradation and desertification as triggered by effects of climate change, and this awareness raising has been carried out together with climate forecasting and early warning systems. “The country again has developed land degradation neutrality targets and indicators adopted by UNCCD and is already implementing them and is reporting on land degradation neutrality achievements during the UNCCD biennium reporting cycles. There is continuing capacity building on land degradation neutrality reporting systems developed by UNCCD,” he added.

Lesotho is represented at the conference by, among others, the Minister of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation Motlohi Maliehe and Director of Conservation Lerotholi Nkuebe. The theme for the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification Conference of Parties (UNCCD COP 15) is ‘Land, Life and Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity’. Nkuebe said land is an important resource that all depend on without which there is no life. He therefore said land restoration is very crucial to stop and reverse land degradation and desertification.

He said through the achievement of land degradation neutrality (LDN) with its indicators; trends in land cover, trends in land productivity and trends in soil organic carbon stocks, there will be life on the land. He said these programmes must be implemented in conjunction with communities’ livelihoods activities (income generating activities) to be able to transit from scarcity (food and water insecurity, poverty) to prosperity (food and water security, economic improvement). Asked about issues debated at the COP15, Nkuebe said the discussions include a drought protocol/binding instrument.

He said the Africa region has proposed the development of the policy on drought mitigation since the adoption of drought issues on addressing land degradation and desertification only focused on drought awareness raising and response. Much of the impact of land degradation and desertification is exacerbated by the impact of drought – with respect to intensity, scale, and duration of drought. Nkuebe said in the previous COP’s decisions, drought issues were addressed in terms of awareness raising and response, not on mitigation.

“So, Africa has a strong stance in negotiating for drought policy formulation and adoption by the COP to enable more efforts being channeled to drought mitigation interventions, especially on the African region as it is the most affected by drought impacts. “The negotiations on this issue are still going on,” he said. He further stated that another issue under discussion is Land Tenure including land rights, especially for women and youth as they are the most affected groups, indicating it is generally known that women and youth do not have legal rights on land ownership until men as households’ heads are dead.

“COP 15 is discussing how land tenure issues can be addressed politically, legally and traditionally as the main barrier to land access and ownership by women and youth, is customary laws and practices for these groups. “Gender and youth issues, as cross-cutting issues in all COP discussions, are also being discussed in terms of inclusion of women and youth, and other marginalised groups in land restoration interventions that are aimed at addressing desertification, land degradation and drought because these groups are playing major roles in land restoration due to high unemployment rates.

“Also, their livelihoods depend on land for all ecosystems services, and the impacts of drought and land degradation cause them to migrate from the rural areas to the urban areas to look for job opportunities,” he stated. He said there has also been consensus on building synergies and collaboration between the three Rio Conventions (CBD, UNFCCC and UNCCD) as these are closely related, and their frameworks, strategies and activities implemented to address their challenges facing global populations are closely related and inseparable hence why they must be synergised and harmonised.

  • (This article was produced as part of avirtual reporting fellowship to the UNCCD COP15 supported by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.)

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