UNCCD Chief calls for urgent land restoration at 9th Islamic Environment Ministers Conference

October 19, 2023

Jeddah, 19/10/2023 – Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), delivered a compelling address on Tuesday, 17 October 2023, during the 9th session of the Conference of Environment Ministers in the Islamic world, held under the theme, “Towards Green Transformation in the Islamic World.”

In his keynote speech, Mr. Thiaw stressed the pressing need to redefine humanity’s relationship with nature by managing the land sustainably, in light of alarming global environment shifts.

“Any land degradation, anywhere in the world, is a depreciation of our global economy and an erosion of human well-being,” Thiaw said.

According to the UNCCD’s Global Land Outlook report, nearly 40 % of the Earth’s land is degraded and not productive. Mr. Thiaw championed land restoration to recover the land’s ability to produce.

He commended Saudi Arabia for its leadership during its G20 Presidency in 2020, which led to the establishment of the G20 Global Land Initiative, which he noted is global in scope and is committed to working with all countries, including those of the Islamic World and with the ICESCO

Mr. Thiaw noted Islamic civilizations had a rich legacy of sustainable agriculture, water conservation, and land practices, and called for a harmonious blend of ancestral wisdom and modern innovation.

“Weaving together Islamic principles of stewardship and reverence for nature with cutting-edge land management techniques, we can chart a course towards a green transformation,” he said.

Mr. Thiaw acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s commitment to address global challenges and expressed optimism for the upcoming sixteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (COP16).

“We can make the next UNCCD 16th COP the moon-shoot moment for land restoration and drought resilience, for people, for the planet and for prosperity,” he said.

Mr. Thiaw met with Mr. Abdalrahman Alfadhley, Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture of Saudi Arabia, on the sidelines of the conference, to discuss COP16, which will be held in December 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Thiaw also met with Dr. Salim AlMalik, Director General of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), to explore opportunities for collaboration that would benefit Islamic nations.

G20 Global Land Initiative’s exhibition at the event showcased restoration initiatives relevant to Islamic countries.

Mr. Thiaw was accompanied by Mr. Adama Soko and Ms. Salma AlSayyad from UNCCD.

For more information, contact: G20ico@unccd.int