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Posted on on November 23rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Statement on the Synergistic Implementation of the Rio Conventions in the Drylands.

From 8-11 November 2010 the third bi-annual conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification was held at the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research in Sede Boqer Israel. The conference was attended by hundreds of government and non-government officials, senior representatives of the UNESCO, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as well as researchers from 63 countries working in areas related to the combating of desertification and development of sustainable livelihoods in the drylands.

Among the central topics discussed in a special session sponsored by UNESCO was the potential for synergistic implementation of the Rio conventions in the drylands.  While the issue of such “synergies” has been widely embraced, participants noted that there has been too little progress in translating this impulse from a conceptual consensus to actual procedures and activities that can improve implementation in each substantive area. The deliberations and presentations about synergisms at the 2010 Sede Boqer conference focused on existing international experience and projects on the ground that demonstrate synergistic benefits.  Among the proven cases discussed were afforestation initiatives, agricultural and agro-forestry programmes as well as measures for improving public health, which respond simultaneously to the disparate global challenges of desertification, climate change and biodiversity loss.

The conference participants call upon the UNCCD Committee for Science and Technology as well as its Committee for Review of Implementation of the Convention to consider the issue of synergisms at their upcoming meetings in Bonn, Germany in February 2011.  Beyond confirming the theoretical importance, the conference suggests that specific proposals for cooperation between the three conventions be considered in such areas as:

  • The importance of recognizing and addressing both the physical and socio-economic drivers that jointly linked to land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss in the drylands through improved monitoring, assessing and reporting on the interlinkages between desertification, biodiversity, climate change and sustainable development.
  • The need to create stronger synergies between national reporting schedules and requirements for the three Rio conventions to improve the efficiency and reduce the reporting burdens, particularly on affected developing countries.
  • The need to integrate UNCCD National Action Plans, National Biodiversity Action Plans and UNFCCC

National Adaptation Plans of Action and to mainstream these plans into National Sustainable Development Plans.

  • The need to create synergies between the UNCCD impact indicators and the newly adopted CBD Strategic Plan and targets.
  • The challenges that affected developing countries face in jointly implementing the three Rio conventions due to lack of resources and capacities for the development and implementation of synergistic policies and activities.
  • The need to encourage bilateral and multilateral donors to fund projects and programmes that jointly implement the Rio conventions.
  • The importance of payment for dryland ecosystem services and other appropriate incentives to promote an enabling environment for the national and local implementation of the three Rio conventions in the drylands.
  • The importance of mainstreaming science and scientific advice into the implementation of national plans, programmes and projects to facilitate synergistic implementation of the three Rio conventions.

Presentations at the conference, as well as local site visits revealed an empirical basis for restoration/rehabilitation in the drylands through sustainable forestry, agriculture, water management, grazing, eco-tourism, planning/architecture and biodiversity conservation programmes. Encouraged by the availability of solutions, the conference participants call for continued research efforts and dissemination of successful approaches that can contribute not only to combating desertification, but also magnifying these efforts by protecting biological diversity and responding effectively to climate change.

Adopted at Sede Boqer, Israel, 11 November 2010

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