New Delhi Declaration dilutes role of international funding bodies, tenurial issues

Overall the Declaration has downplayed the role of global financial institutions, tenurial rights of people, and delinks UNCCD from other Rio mandated scientific bodies like IPCC and IPBES

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Friday 13 September 2019
Prakash Javadekar presents the New Delhi Declaration. Photo: @DDIndiaLive/Twitter

The mention of international financial institutions like Green Climate Fund (GCF), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Adaptation Fund has been deleted from the finalised New Delhi Declaration: Investing in Land and Unlocking Opportunities, released on the evening of September 13, 2019.

The document was released after being agreed on by the member parties of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The Conference of Parties 14 to the UNCCD, which had been going on since September 2, ended with the release of the Declaration.

The draft of the document, which was being discussed among the parties, had the following paragraph:

“Invite international financial mechanisms, including the GCF, GEF and Adaptation Fund, and relevant development partners to put in place a rapid and flexible process for allocating increased financial and technical support to Parties implementing projects that combat DLDD (desertification, land degradation and drought) and deliver co-benefits”

Instead of it, the Declaration has no mention of these institutions in the paragraph that has been added.

“Invite development partners, international financial mechanisms, the private sector and other stakeholders to boost investments and technical support for the implementation of the Convention and  the  achievement  of  land  degradation  neutrality,  create  green  jobs  and establish sustainable value chains for products sourced from the land.”

The Declaration has also removed the mention of ‘legal recognition’ of tenurial rights. Tenurial rights was one of the contentious issues that was being discussed at the convention.

“All issues are contentious. Every party has different expectations and decisions. Two decisions that took time were the decision on land rights and the decision on drought,” Ibrahim Thiaw, secretary general of the UNCCD, said in a press conference on September 13.

While the paragraph on land tenures in the draft read, “Reaffirm the relevance of the VGGT (Voluntary Guidelines on the  Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests) for the implementation of the Convention and encourage the legal recognition and respect, in accordance with national laws, of legitimate tenure rights, including customary tenure rights, that are not currently protected by law and the facilitation, promotion and protection of the exercise of tenure rights,” the Declaration text downplays the legal recognition part of it.

“Reaffirm the relevance of the Voluntary Guidelines on the  Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security for better access, control and stewardship over land and equitable tenure security, in accordance with relevant  national  legislation,  for  the  implementation  of  the  Convention  and  the  promotion of sustainable land management,” the New Delhi Declaration says.

The Declaration also dilutes the importance of land tenure and user rights of indigenous communities, youth and women. The following paragraph in the draft, which talked about this, has been deleted.

“Support better access, control and stewardship over land, including strengthening equitable tenure security and user rights for youth and women as well as indigenous peoples and local communities, in accordance with relevant national legislation, as a critical element of the enabling environment for the fulfillment of the Convention and the promotion of sustainable land management.”

The New Delhi Declaration doesn’t have any specific measures that can be used for adaptation. In fact, it doesn’t use the word ‘adaptation’ even once.

Adaptation mechanisms are the intervention which countries can undertake to cope with changing climate and the environment.  The following paragraph, which talked about adaptation as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reports and their relation to adaptation, has been deleted.

“Welcoming the IPBES thematic assessment on land degradation and restoration and the special report by the Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change (IPCC) on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems that recognise the role of the land use sector in the climate system and that sustainable land management could contribute to accelerating global action on climate change mitigation, through reduced emissions and through sequestration, and adaptation while delivering biodiversity and sustainable development co-benefits.”

The final Delhi Declaration downplays the connections with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as well as with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

In the draft, the linkages of UNCCD with UNFCCC as well as with CBD were being considered, but the New Delhi Declaration is completely silent on these.

“Recalling that the Sharm El Sheikh Declaration, launched recognized by the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity at the its Fourteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, called for synergies in addressing environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change,” the draft said but there is no mention of this in the Declaration.

Overall the Declaration has downplayed the role of global financial institutions, tenurial rights of people, and delinks UNCCD from other Rio mandated scientific bodies like IPCC and IPBES.

The draft of the New Delhi Declaration can be accessed here

The finalised version of the New Delhi Declaration can be accessed here

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