Pakistan calls for preference to debt swaps for nature and the SDGs

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Ambassador Munir Akram delivered his opening remarks in his capacity as President ECOSOC at the High-level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought, United Nations. He stated that “It is imperative to hold our advanced country partners to their commitment to mobilize the hundred billion dollars in climate finance”: Ambassador Munir Akram, President of ECOSOC urged while speaking at the President of the General Assembly’s High-level Dialogue on Desertification and Land Degradation here today. While expressing his concern, Ambassador Munir Akram said that: “Land degradation is undermining the wellbeing of some 3.2 billion people, driving species to extinction and intensifying climate change”. “From 2000 to 2015, global trends in land cover indicated a net loss in natural and semi-natural classes of land”: he added. “The effects of unsustainable land management practices and demographic pressure on land degradation and desertification are also being exacerbated worldwide due to the effects of climate change”; he said. He further expressed that “As a consequence, populations’ abilities to generate livelihoods are increasingly becoming limited, particularly in the dry lands” which has “led to increased poverty, malnutrition, migration, political insecurity, and conflict”. “These losses resulted from direct and indirect factors, including deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, land use change and urbanization” he expressed his concern. He proposed three key priority actions: First, “We must ensure that reforestation and adaption are incorporated into national poverty alleviation programs of national governments”, Second, the full utilization of science and technology is important to halt land degradation and desertification, Third, finance, is the key to the implementation of all plans and programs”. “We need a whole spectrum of solutions: a resolution of the debt crisis, which hampers countries from making outlays on nature- based solutions and reforestation” he insisted. “We also need to give preference to debt swaps for nature and the SDGs”: he added. He urged that “we must stop the process of deforestation. We must provide alternatives for rural populations dependent on wood burning through renewable energy projects and by creation of job opportunities in the rural areas”. Ambassador Munir Akram, called the progress on achieving land degradation neutrality SDG 15.3 as encouraging saying: “As of February 2021, 127 countries had committed to set their voluntary targets for achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN), and in 68 countries, governments had already officially endorsed these targets. “Overall, commitments to land restoration are estimated at 1 B hectares, out of which 450 million hectares are committed through land degradation neutrality targets. The momentum generated should be maintained”: he said. “My country, Pakistan, has embarked upon an ambitious Eco-System Restoration Initiative to transition towards an environmentally resilient society by mainstreaming adaptation and mitigation through ecologically targeted initiatives encompassing afforestation” Ambassador cited Pakistan’s key initiatives such as 10 billion trees tsunami, biodiversity conservation, and attaining land degradation neutrality” saying “such examples could be easily replicated in other parts of the world”. In the end, he insisted that “through political commitment and a coherent strategy, we can achieve the targets set out SDG 15.3. Target 15.3 under SDG 15 reflects the ambition of Member States to “combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world” by 2030. The opening segment of President of the General Assembly’s High-level Dialogue on Desertification and Land Degradation focused on Achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) to Accelerate COVID-19 Recoveries and the Decade of Action was held In accordance with General Assembly resolutions 74/220 and 75/218, where the President of the General Assembly convene a High-level Dialogue to assess the progress made in the fight against desertification, land degradation and drought, and map the way forward in view of the end of the UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification.

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