A girl walks on top of a dune near Ouled Said ksar, a fortified village on the outskirts of the oasis town of Timimoun, about 1,200 km (745 miles) south of Algiers March 24, 2008. Canada will contribute up to $55 million to the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Fund, an investment fund initiated by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to support sustainable land management and land restoration.(Zohra Bensemra /REUTERS)

Canada commits $55M to stop land degradation and desertification

The international community has a responsibility to act in order to mitigate the effects of climate change and protect biodiversity, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday, addressing a virtual international summit.

“Climate change and biodiversity are interconnected,” Trudeau told about 30 world leaders attending the One Planet Summit held by videoconference.

“When sea levels rise, when droughts become the norm not the exception – this has catastrophic effects on natural habitats.”

The one-day summit focused on four major topics: protecting terrestrial and marine ecosystems; promoting agroecology, a more sustainable way to grow food; increasing funding to protect biodiversity; and identifying links between deforestation and the health of humans and animals.

About 30 leaders, government officials and heads of international organizations attended the virtual summit along with Trudeau, including UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. China was represented by Vice Premier Han Zheng.

The event, organized by France, the United Nations and the World Bank, took place in the absence of top officials from the United States, as President-elect Joe Biden, a strong proponent of climate issues, does not take office until Jan. 20. Other notable absences included Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was busy hosting talks on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Moscow, as well as the leaders of India and Brazil.

French President Emmanuel Macron, top, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, center, and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, right, attend a video conference meeting during the One Planet Summit, at The Elysee Palace, in Paris, Monday Jan. 11, 2021. Protecting the world’s biodiversity is on the agenda for world leaders at the One Planet Summit, which was being held by videoconference due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)

Organizers hoped to merge the fight against climate change and the preservation of biodiversity as experts say the two issues are interconnected and any solutions must be as well.

The UN stressed that “the COVID-19 pandemic has been a dramatic reminder of the importance of nature for our daily lives and economies.”

“Biodiversity represents the natural capital of the world, yet exploitation, pollution and climate change are bringing irreversible damage to ecosystems,” the UN said ahead of the summit.

Trudeau said Canada will contribute up to $55 million to the UN’s Land Degradation Neutrality Fund to support sustainable land projects in low and middle-income countries.

“And because we can’t fight climate change without nature-based solutions, any future global climate finance contributions from Canada will include funds for biodiversity,” Trudeau said as he touted his government’s achievements in conservation and protecting biodiversity.

The Trudeau government has already committed to protecting 25 per cent of Canada’s lands and oceans by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030.

The Liberal government has also invested nearly $4 billion to plant two billion trees in Canada, Trudeau said.

Monday’s talks seek to prepare negotiations to set biodiversity targets for the next decade at a UN conference on biodiversity to be held in China in October, after it was postponed last year due to the pandemic. The UN’s global climate summit, the COP26, has also been rescheduled for November.

The summit also intends to boost the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, which was launched in 2019 by Costa Rica, France and Britain to set a target of protecting at least 30 per cent of the planet, including land and sea, by 2030. Canada also joined the coalition in September and Trudeau said his government is working with Indigenous groups in Canada to meet those goals.

A side conference on Monday focused on investment for Africa’s Great Green Wall project, which involves gigantic efforts to stop the Sahara Desert from spreading further south.

Launched in 2007, the program consists in planting an arc of trees running 7,000 kilometers across Africa — from Senegal along the Atlantic all the way to Djibouti on the Gulf of Aden.

“The Land Degradation Neutrality Fund is an example of how the public and private sector can invest together in nature-positive solutions and livelihoods in developing countries,” Canada’s International Development Minister, Karina Gould, said in a statement.

“Canada is committed to innovative partnerships to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss and create a sustainable future and healthier communities for all.”

With files from The Associated Press

Categories: Environment & Animal Life, International, Politics
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