International Seminar on Combating Desertification Commences in Beijing

17 Jun 2012

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At the opening of the International Seminar on Combating Desertification, an official ceremony was held to coincide with the World Day to Combat Desertification. Already in its eighteenth year, the World Day to Combat Desertification comes at a time when some 400 million people in China are struggling to cope with water shortages, unproductive land and the breakdown of ecological systems caused by rising temperatures, overgrazing and poor land management.

With its focus on strengthening international cooperation on desertification – as one of the main priorities of the Beijing Action Plan of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum – the event was organised by the Ministry of Commerce and the State Forestry Administration, with UNDP also invited to participate.

During a speech at the event, Ms. Silvia Morimoto delivered a powerful message on three key areas of importance to overcoming desertification – local communities, livelihood improvement and a long term strategy. Her remarks centred on the human dimension of desertification and its ties to economic hardship and poverty. Emphasis on sharing experiences between China and Africa was signalled out as an important strategy in tackling a global challenge with shared consequences.

“As world leaders gather to discuss the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – at Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, China and Africa’s engagement in pursuit of solutions to this shared global issue is commendable,” said Ms. Morimoto. “Nevertheless, the nature of desertification means that further international responses will be necessary to move forward.”