France stresses importance of combating desertification
Paris Climate Conference/12th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification/round table: “land-based adaptation to climate change: resilience through sustainable land management” – Speech by Mme Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophony (excerpts)
Ankara, 20 October 2015
I’m delighted to be with you for this round table dedicated to the links between our goals in combating desertification and adapting to climate disruption.
This is one of the last major stages before COP21, and we have the opportunity to work together on how to respond to this twofold challenge.
The adoption in New York of the Sustainable Development Goals commits us to reversing the desertification trend by 2020. More broadly, together we’ve chosen to incorporate resilience to the impact of climate disruption into all the SDGs.
Indeed, because climate change has the potential to destabilize ecosystems and our agriculture, we must speed up international efforts to combat desertification. I won’t go back now over the challenges, which you often know a lot better than me.
I’ve had the opportunity, on the ground, to see how the changing climate is threatening agricultural production and food security, for example in the Sahel.
So I’d like to tell you about the concrete solutions that are enabling us to take action in the fight against desertification and climate disruption. The Paris agreement can provide solutions for soil protection and land restoration.
Indeed, several initiatives are enabling us to create links between Ankara and Paris and ensure the two agreements reinforce each other.
The first initiative is early warning systems, which enable vulnerable communities to anticipate climate risks and disasters.
According to the analyses by the World Bank and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), 50% of African territory is today not properly covered by meteorological data.
So without forecasts, and if we’re incapable of warning arable and livestock farmers that a drought is on its way or, conversely, a flood that may devastate crops, then we won’t be able to create resilient agriculture.
That’s why we’ve created a coalition with the WMO, the World Bank and UNISDR to strengthen warning systems by 2020. France will dedicate €10 million to this by 2020.
This will also make it possible, as the G7 has pledged, to develop insurance mechanisms enabling countries and communities to react swiftly after a drought or floods.
We call the second initiative “4 for 1,000”. It was launched by French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll.
The initiative is aimed at working for food security by taking action enabling soils to be enriched with carbon. This also makes it possible to guarantee food security, because carbon-rich soils are more productive.
This is a job of adaptation but also mitigation, because combating desertification also means giving ourselves every opportunity to ensure we stay below 2ºC or 1.5ºC.
For as you know, in order to remain below that target we’ll have to mobilize every sector. The actions contained in the national contributions are already enabling us to approach that target. But we’re not there yet.
So restoring degraded land by capturing the CO2 in the atmosphere and putting it back into the soil is one of the most significant gifts that Africa, and every country combating desertification, can give the planet.
So France will be keen to ensure that concrete action to combat desertification, prevent drought and increase food security, such as agroecology, is given its full place in the Lima-Paris Action Agenda in Paris.