196 states are expected in Abidjan to fight against desertification

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The goal of COP15, which opens Monday, May 9, in the Ivorian capital, is to find ways to combat desert advance, deforestation, depletion of arable land or soil pollution. The conference begins with a summit of heads of state directly involved in the phenomenon.

This 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention against Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which is less well known than its “big sister” on climate change, addresses issues that are equally crucial. It is taking place at a time when, according to the UN, 41% of the earth is degraded in the world. And the pace is rising: Every year, 12 million hectares of land are lost, an area equivalent to Benin or Belgium.

Nine African heads of state, including Nigerian President Mohamed Bazoum, his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi and Togolese Faure Gnassingbé are expected in Abidjan around Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara. French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will take part in the debates via video conference.

Call for action »

For ten days, negotiators from 196 states will try to agree on common goals to combat land degradation over the next ten years. The theme of this event “Lands. Liv. Heritage: From a Precarious World to a Prosperous Future” is ” a call to action to ensure that the earth, which is our source of life on this planet, continues to benefit present and future generations; “, UNCCD emphasizes in a press release.

► Also listening: It’s not windy – What are the challenges for COP 15 desertification?

One of the major issues to be addressed concerns drought, explains Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD. ” They are becoming more and more frequent and more and more fatal, and the COP is expected to make strong decisions on drought to reduce the risks it represents to humanity. »

But these droughts are not the only ones responsible for soil degradation, emphasizes our correspondent in Abidjan, Peter Pinto. Pollution of any kind associated with human activities also destroys arable land. Modern agriculture also plays a major role. It is especially responsible for 80% of deforestation. Africa thus loses 4 million hectares of forest per year. However, 6 million hectares of extra land must be brought into production each year between now and 2030 to meet the planet’s food needs in the light of population growth.

Land repair

How to increase yields without depleting land or destroying forests? How to mitigate the advance of dry areas? How do you provide opportunities for populations directly affected by these disasters? Twenty solutions will be debated at COP15, including the crucial issue of land restoration. ” The world economy has been severely affected by the pandemic and now by conflicts such as the war in Ukraine, which have extremely serious consequences for agricultural production and distribution of food in the world.explains Ibrahim Thiaw. So land repair provides opportunities for all states in the world to produce better. »

The issue of the Great Green Wall, a pharaonic project aimed at restoring hundreds of millions of hectares of arid land in Africa by 2030 on an 8,000 km strip from Senegal to Djibouti, should be addressed in particular during the work ending on 20 May.

► Read also: Desertification wins out, but solutions exist


In Iraq, the sand is advancing, the people are being suffocated

In Iraq, the desert is eating more and more of the territory. As a result, sand dust storms are on the rise, causing thousands of hospitalizations.


Last month we had dust storms even in wet areas! It had never happened before. If nothing is done, there will be no more green spaces, no more houses, no more drinking water … Iraq will simply become a desert.

In Baghdad, increasingly dangerous dust storms

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