UN holds briefing in Turkey on fighting desertification

UN holds briefing in Turkey on fighting desertification

ANKARA- Anadolu Agency
UN holds briefing in Turkey on fighting desertification

A U.N. official for combatting desertification on June 18 held a briefing for various foreign mission officials in Turkey’s capital Ankara ahead of an upcoming climate conference set to be held in India.

Ibrahim Thiaw, the executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), said land degradation and desertification should not only be addressed as climate-related problems since they also lead to security issues, migration, and even clashes.

He said the poor people across the globe were dependent on land and the loss of land was directly related to their migration, hence security troubles.

“Today, we have sufficient information telling us that unless we address the issue of land and land degradation, we will not achieve sustainable growth [worldwide],” he told the briefing at the Indian Embassy in Ankara.

Established in 1994, the UNCCD is the world's only legally binding international agreement that connects environment and development to sustainable management.

Stating that majority of the forests in Haiti, a Caribbean country, were destroyed and people had to live on barren lands, he asked: “If they [poor people] have nothing to produce, to feed their children, then what is left for them to do but leave?”

He went on to assert that recent sandstorms in some parts of the world posed a serious threat to public health and triggered deadly respiratory diseases and that could be attributed to increasing erosion and land degradation.

The U.N. official also praised the Ankara Initiative- launched at the 12th UNCDD COP held in Turkey in 2015. It aims to support the global sustainable development agenda and benefit Turkey’s experiences and approaches in land management.

Also speaking at the briefing, Ahmet İpek, the head of Turkey’s general directorate of combating desertification and erosion, said Ankara will attend the COP set to be held in India’s capital New Delhi between Sept. 2-13.

İpek added that Turkey has been training hundreds of foreign experts for combatting desertification.

“So far, between 2012 and 2018, more than 800 experts participated in the training organized by Turkey; in fact, 50 experts from 19 countries are currently being trained in Ankara,” he said.

Representatives and foreign mission officials from Turkey, Israel, Greece, Malta, Portugal, Croatia, Spain, Slovenia, and India along with the UN were present at the briefing event.