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Source: Small Island Developing States

11 September 2014: On the sidelines of the 14th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), business executives and other stakeholders pledged to work towards more sustainable food and land use, including through an emphasis on soil health, value chain sustainability, and climate- and water-smart solutions.

The ‘UNCCD Delhi Declaration from Business’ emerged from these consultations, which were held on 7 September during the UNCCD Business Day on Soil, Land and Agriculture. The Day was organized by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and sponsored by Syngenta and Nutrien.

The discussions included a focus on blended finance solutions and the role of “restoration entrepreneurs,” whose innovations to improve soil health and develop sustainable value chains could be supported at scale through closer public-private engagement. Addressing participants, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw described land restoration as “very good business,” adding that every dollar invested generates between US$5 and US$30 and is “the cheapest way to remove carbon from the atmosphere.”

The Declaration emphasizes the critical role of business in achieving a land-degradation neutral world and highlights six priorities for action.

The Declaration emphasizes the critical role of business in achieving a land-degradation neutral world and highlights six priorities for action to enhance: sustainable land management (SLM) solutions for agriculture, food, forestry, shelter and energy; scaled up solutions through value chain and landscape-based approaches such as deforestation-risk commodities; resilience of communities through improved livelihood opportunities and food security; climate-smart approaches to agriculture; biodiversity, including crop and dietary diversity; and “robust business decision-making and progress” through science-based targets, risk management, reporting, and environmental, social and governance processes.

Presenting the Declaration to COP 14 delegates for adoption, business representatives underscored the role of government in driving “a new deal for nature and people” and highlighted some policy shifts required to leverage the contribution of the private sector, including: developing clear policies and targets; harmonizing decision making within the UN framework; harnessing the role of market-based mechanisms; and supporting resilient local livelihoods through, inter alia, entrepreneurship and climate adaptation measures, and land tenure security.

A core objective of COP 14, which convened under the overarching theme of ‘Restore Land to Sustain Life,’ was to build a global “movement” to scale up land restoration. The role of diverse stakeholders is recognized in the final COP 14 ministerial outcome, ‘The New Delhi Declaration: Investing in Land and Unlocking Opportunities,’ that was endorsed by ministers and other country representatives. The official declaration pledges Parties’ support for new initiatives or coalitions aiming to improve human health and well-being, as well as the health of ecosystems, and to advance peace and security.

The UNCCD SLM Business Forum was inaugurated at COP 11, held in Windhoek, Namibia, in October 2013. [The UNCCD Delhi Declaration from Business] [WBCSD Press Release] [Global Environment Facility Press Release] [UNCCD Ministerial Outcome: The New Delhi Declaration: Investing in Land and Unlocking Opportunities] [IISD RS Coverage of UNCCD COP 14]

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