Commonwealth: Guyana to champion action on forest, biodiversity

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Guyana will champion the Commonwealth Living Lands Action Group on sustainable green cover and biodiversity, committing itself to lead coordinated efforts across the 56 Commonwealth member countries.

The announcement comes after a Commonwealth event in Dubai on 3 December 2023 during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).

During the event, the Commonwealth Secretariat launched a new implementation framework to facilitate coordinated action among the 56 Commonwealth countries on land, biodiversity and climate challenges, directly impacting a quarter of the world’s land area.

The launch comes after extensive consultations with Commonwealth countries since the adoption of the Living Lands Charter last year.

Speakers, including Prime Minister Robert Abela of Malta and Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), expressed their support for the framework during the event.

‘An urgent priority’

Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Abela said:

“The world is experiencing a planetary crisis, addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity, and nurturing ecological restoration of our land has become an urgent priority for all Commonwealth members.

Prime Minister Robert Abela of Malta (Commonwealth photo)

“We are here to renew our commitment to work together towards the same through the Living Lands Charter. We hope that our experience inspires Commonwealth countries facing similar tough challenges.”

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, said:

“Our Commonwealth encompasses a quarter of the world’s land area and is home to a third of the world’s mega-biodiverse countries. More than 400 endemic species are found in our small island states.

“The impact of climate change is increasingly severe across our countries. Food insecurity is increasing. Soil is depleting. The sheer scale of these challenges compels us to lead with bold action.”

She added: “With this implementation framework, we are taking a giant leap forward. It will leverage the combined strength of the Commonwealth through thematic action working groups – learning from each other and spurring one another on towards systems change and a better future for all.”

The framework takes a system-wide approach towards implementing the Living Lands Charter through five thematic action areas: climate-resilient agriculture for food security; soil and water conservation; sustainable green cover and biodiversity; carbon neutral and climate-resilient livestock rearing and animal husbandry; and indigenous and local people for climate-resilient development.

Champion countries

Countries have stepped forward to lead on priority areas of action:

  • Guyana will champion action on sustainable green cover and biodiversity.
  • Kenya will lead action on climate-resilient agriculture for food security.
  • Malta will spearhead the conservation of soil and water.
    Within each thematic area, the Commonwealth will offer extensive support to countries to achieve their commitments.

This support entails mobilising resources for implementation, conducting analyses for policymaking, facilitating institutional governance, offering capacity-building assistance, and generating knowledge for member countries.

The implementation framework has been developed in response to a mandate from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in June 2022.

The Secretariat for the three Rio Conventions welcomed the framework and expressed confidence in its ability to help countries achieve targets set out in the Paris Agreement, the Global Biodiversity Framework and the UNCCD Strategic Plan for Land Degradation Neutrality.

The framework’s launch coincides with the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action. (Commonwealth press release)

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