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Land degradation to be tackled at COP11

Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, Luc Gnacadja and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah during the signing of the agreement for Namibia to host COP11 (Photograph by Melba Chipepo

Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, Luc Gnacadja and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah during the signing of the agreement for Namibia to host COP11 (Photograph by Melba Chipepo

The upcoming 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP11) slated to take place in Windhoek from 16 to 27 September this year will touch on issues affecting land degradation and desertification. Deterioration of land is estimated to affect some 1.5 billion people globally. In Namibia the most visible features are over-grazing, deforestation and desertification.
Deforestation for cropland expansion and overgrazing are said to affect more than 50% of agricultural land worldwide. This process is rapidly escalating as surveys show that in 1991 just 15% of the earth’s total land area was degraded whilst in 2011 this figure had risen to 25%.
The impact of land degradation is also affecting biodiversity as scientists estimate some 27,000 species have been lost due to land degradation.
According to UNCCD data, statistics show that living standards and literacy rates are declining in countries that experience increasing levels of aridity. Furthermore, areas with high levels of land degradation are also prone to political violence and conflict. Data also revealed that Southern Africa will be one of the regions worst affected by high intensity droughts.
Being the driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia is therefore compelled to come up with innovative methods to reverse land degradation and desertification before the year 2025.
For the first time ever, the conference is taking place in Southern Africa with Namibia playing host. It is estimated that at least 3000 international delegates from 195 parties to the UNCCD, including heads of states and ministers will attend COP11 to debate and devise solutions for improving the living conditions of people in arid areas, maintaining and restoring land and soil productivity as well as mitigating the effects of drought.
According to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, the conference comes at a crucial time when the country is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years.
“Namibia’s hosting of COP11 is also a good opportunity for us to showcase our good practices to the world in the area of land degradation and drought mitigation,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah, adding that this will be done through planned side events including technical tours to Gobabeb Research and Training Centre and visiting community-based project sites.
Speaking during the official signing of the host country agreement between the government and the Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, Luc Gnacadja last week, Nandi-Ndaitwah highlighted that hosting the conference will not only further solidify Namibia’s commitment to addressing the threats of land degradation but will also offer a snapshot of the country whose interventions against land degradation have gone from strength to strength.
The minister encouraged all Namibians to be part and parcel of the conference and urged every citizen to provide the delegates with true Namibian hospitality. “Namibia stands ready to host COP11 and look forward to welcoming all the various country delegations to our beautiful country,” she said.

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