At the present time, two billion human beings are having to face the ecological, economic and social consequences of desertification. Although not directly affected, Switzerland is involved in the implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in many of the countries concerned. More than 70 practical projects and programmes to combat the phenomenon are being conducted by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), representing expenditure of approximately CHF 46 million per annum.
At the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD, which begins on Monday in South Korea, Switzerland will be represented by a delegation consisting of five members, drawn from the SDC, Political Affairs Division V of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern. At the conference, important discussions will be held on the governance of the Convention, in particular on the synergies that can be achieved between the three Rio Conventions (climate, biodiversity and desertification). Convinced that greater importance needs to be given to the environmental challenges raised by these three conventions, Switzerland supports efforts to develop these synergies in order to gain a global overview of the issues concerned.
Also on the agenda in South Korea will be relations with the World Environment Facility (GEF), fair geographical sharing of the resources made available for implementing the UNCCD, and the division of labour between the Convention’s secretariat and the Global Mechanism (GM), the UNCCD’s funding institution. In all of these matters, Switzerland will advocate a pragmatic approach to ensure efficient use of the funds provided.
Switzerland has been a member of the UNCCD since 1996, which reflects its priorities with regard to international development policy, combating poverty and inequality, and the conservation of the global environment. Switzerland has long been involved in cooperation in some of the world’s poorest countries. Several of them, for instance Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Mongolia and Kirghizstan, are suffering serious problems as a result of drought and desertification. Switzerland’s involvement is part of a long-term effort to foster sustainable development in these regions.
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