Parliamentarians discuss desertification, support establishment of UN Parliamentary Assembly

Secretariat, 6. November 2009

The role of Members of Parliament in the efforts to combat desertification and to achieve food security was discussed at a Round Table which was held in parallel with the ninth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (COP 9) on 24 and 25 September in Buenos Aires. Some 40 parliamentarians representing about 20 parliaments from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America participated in the event at the invitation of the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

In a declaration adopted at the end of the deliberations, the parliamentarians stressed, among other things, that "there is no human security without food security. This reality applies above all to the people living in degraded or desertification-prone drylands and belonging to the world’s poorest, most marginalized, and politically weak citizens." The declaration demands that in combating food insecurity "the participation of affected populations and local communities, particularly women and youth, must be ensured." Said Professor Uwe Holtz, a former German MP and member of the UNCCD Panel of Eminent Personalities to consider the poverty-environment nexus: "Parliaments should strive to ensure that food, agricultural trade and overall trade policies are conducive to fostering food security for all through a fair market-oriented non-speculative world trade system embedded in a sustainable, socially balanced and fair globalization."

The declaration furthermore pointed out that "desertification and land degradation issues deserve global policy attention and the needs of drylands must be fully integrated into the Copenhagen Protocol." The adopted text calls for a strengthening of the Parliamentary Network of the UNCCD and notes that "a UN Parliamentary Assembly could strengthen the effectiveness, transparency, representativeness, plurality and legitimacy of the work of the institutions that compose the UN system. The establishment of a UNPA could also be a parliamentary oversight centrepiece of the renewed system of international financial and economic governance."

The Round Table was supported by the Argentine Chamber of Deputies and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.