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General Assembly – High-level dialogue on desertification, land degradation and drought

Statement by the Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Ecological Transition, Hon. Ilaria Fontana, at the General Assembly High-level dialogue on desertification, land degradation and drought. —




As a result of the global health emergency, we are facing an unprecedented crisis, which has deep roots in the health conditions of our planet. This crisis requires us to restart with an enhanced spirit of collaboration, being aware that safeguarding the planet must be at the center of the political agenda.

The pandemic has shown that the well-being of the humankind – also from a social and economic point of view – is closely linked to the wellbeing of ecosystems: damaging the resources of the Earth jeopardizes the quality of our lives, not to mention our survival.

It is therefore essential – in our way out of the crisis – to give priority to the conservation and the sustainable management of the territory, also to strengthen food security and reduce the effects of the pandemic on poverty.

For Italy, combating soil degradation and protecting the Earth from the threats caused by climate change and the exploitation of natural resources represent a central goal, which we decided to implement in the recently adopted National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

We aim to integrate the actions for the protection and restoration of degraded soils with measures devoted to the mitigation and adaptation of climate change, as well as with the actions for the protection of biodiversity. We therefore support “nature-based” and “land-based solutions”, and are working to integrate the fight against drought and desertification into the main sectoral plans, such as those for the management of water resources and hydrogeological systems.

At the international level, we have always supported the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification [UNCCD], and I would like to remind that Italy is the only nation among industrialized countries that joined the Convention for “Land Degradation Neutrality” since the beginning.

Soil and desertification represent another important axis of the program of the Italian Presidency of the G20, centered on the three P’s: People, Prosperity and Planet. In view of the Ministerial Meeting for the Environment, we decided to resume and strengthen the “Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats” launched by the Saudi Presidency in 2020.

Furthermore, in line with the priority given to our Planet in the actions of cooperation for development, Italy continues to be committed to the most vulnerable countries and communities exposed to desertification, soil degradation and drought, in line with our vision for a sustainable, inclusive and resilient recovery.

In the last three years, the Italian Cooperation has financed more than 140 initiatives in these areas for over 200 million euros. The Ministry for Ecological Transition, for its part, has financed a substantial project in Sahel which will be carried out with the support of the UNCCD in Burkina Faso, Niger and Ghana with the aim of restoring territories by generating sustainable economic activities.

I wish to thank the President of the Assembly for bringing – by means of this Dialogue – such important issues to the attention of the main world forum: Italy will continue to work and be committed in this area.