From 6-16 september, the 13th Conference of Parties' of the UNCCD (UN Convention to Combat Desertification) took place, this time in Ordos, China. The UNCCD is the global convention of the United Nations on combating desertification and drought. Every country in the world has signed this convention. Canada withdrew in 2012, but in 2016 - under the Trudeau administration - started a process to re-enter the convention. Both ENDS is a member of Drynet, a network of local organisations and communities in dry regions searching for ways to use land in a sustainable manner.
This year's climate conference had a lot of side-events about gender. Gender is about women and men, not their biological differences, but the differences in for example their roles, their needs, their rights and their access to decision making.
In Niger, farmers have turned no less than 5 million ha. of the Southern Sahelian provinces Maradi and Zinder green. They protected and assisted spontaneous regeneration of trees in and around their agricultural fields. Between January 12th and 20th, Both ENDS colleague Marie José van der Werff ten Bosch accompanied Chris Reij (CIS, VU University Amsterdam) to the south of Niger, to find out how farmers were able to regreen at such a large scale, and how their experiences can benefit other villages in the Sahel. Both ENDS, VU-CIS and the Centre Régional d'Enseignement Spécialisé en Agriculture (CRESA) have a joint project to spread the approach to the region of Dogondoutchi.
“5 million hectares in the Niger desert has been transformed into a lush landscape, where trees flourish, crops prosper and livestock thrives!” dr.Abasse Tougiane exclaims enthusiastically. “This is an area larger than the Netherlands!” We are present at the lecture about the successful initiative to regreen Niger, given by Abasse and his colleague Toudou Adam at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The room is almost completely full; obviously not only officials of Foreign Affairs, but also scientists, delegates from NGO’s and representatives from the private sector are interested in the subject. The question on everyone’s mind is: ‘how can this be so successful where an initiative such as the Great Green Wall so sadly failed?
The Netherlands is facing an important choice this week. On one side, there are political parties that want to shut the country off from the outside world and let climate change advance unchecked. On the other side, there are parties calling on the Netherlands to once again take the lead in areas like climate change, fair taxes and sustainable trade. Both ENDS believes that such leadership is crucial now more than ever.