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Costa Rica rallies world leaders on land restoration

As host of the 2021 Desertification and Drought Day, Costa Rica will bring together world leaders and leading environmental figures on June 17 to rally political support to ramp up land restoration globally in the coming decade. The virtual High-Level Forum will be led by the President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, and the Minister of Environment and Energy, Andrea Meza.

Carlos Alvarado
President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica

The Forum is part of the 2021 Desertification and Drought Day celebrations organised jointly with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

The virtual High-level Forum will address the importance of international cooperation and solidarity in the context of global efforts to restore balance with nature and promote peace, while fighting climate change and ensuring human health.

Costa Rica is hosting the global celebration this year and will show the impacts and solutions for this problem in a televised talk show program to be aired the same day.

The goal for this year’s Desertification and Drought Day is to demonstrate that investing in sustainable land and water management in the aftermath of COVID-19 can invigorate a green recovery, in terms of creating decent jobs and rebuilding livelihoods, but also in protecting societies and economies from potential crises caused by climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation.

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In the forum, Costa Rican authorities will highlight how the country has implemented public policies and actions to protect nature for decades, and was the first tropical country to halt and reverse deforestation and forest degradation. Forests cover more than 54 per cent of its territory today and meet the daily needs of thousands for people. More than 26 per cent of the national territory is protected by law and the country is already implementing plans, public policy, and specific actions for land restoration.

President Carlos Alvarado said that “for Costa Rica it is important to use its leadership – and it must do so – to bring many partners together and to be able to raise its voice on this issue.”

“Everything is interconnected in today’s world. In cities, the desertification issue may be seen as something remote. But what happens in rural areas – the loss of those arable areas – means more pressure on the world’s food systems and less food for all and all or less carbon-sequestering forests”, he stressed.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres; the President of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkır; UNCCD Executive Secretary, Ibrahim Thiaw; ministers from key countries around the world and civil society participants will also make interventions. Christiana Figueres former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and founder of Global Optimism will moderate the session.

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“The pandemic has reminded us how much we depend on each other. How much our fate depends on our relationships with nature. How much we need good political will, combined with collective action, and sustained investment. When these come together, we can make a difference. Restoring land can give us better food and water security, reduced carbon emissions, and healthy air quality.

“We already have the tools – like responsible land governance, and investments that protect and restore nature. Investing in healthy land to drive a green recovery is a smart economic decision. This is how we can build a greener, healthier, and more sustainable future,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD.

Costa Rica’s Call
At the onset of the UN Decade of Ecosystems Restoration (2021 – 2030), and based on its experience and environmental leadership, on June 17, Costa Rica will call on the international community to rally up a high ambition for the stewardship of land as part of a coordinated response to land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss worldwide.

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“And that is what we need to put on the table: mobilizing funds so that we can continue to implement all our land-based solutions. It is critical for all governments, companies, and societies to have this integrated approach. If we want to make progress, tackle the climate crisis, and halt the loss of biodiversity, we also need to have an extremely robust strategy for preserving our soil. That is what is going to give us healthy societies and healthy economies,” added Minister Meza.

“If everyone is not getting vaccinated, we are not going to emerge from this pandemic. If we do not all get together and protect our forests and soils, we are not going to have a common food future. There is no scenario here where some are going to make it and others are not. It’s the entire planet that has to make it,” concluded President Alvarado. 

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