Bonn, 19 March 2014: The meeting, with participation from the private sector, consulting agencies, research institutions and intergovernmental organizations, was held on 11-13 March at the United Nations in Bonn, Germany.
It was co-organized by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative (ELD), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and UN Global Compact.
“It’s been an interesting series of events with several different outcomes. We looked at practical toolkits to assess the economic impact of land on business development and on business income. We looked at tools to train the business sector and to train policy makers on better decision-making around land management and the implications of those choices. And we looked at developing soil principles to protect soil assets for future generations,” said Louise Baker of UNCCD.
“This meeting brought together companies - multinationals and smaller companies – and other organizations to work together on what the private sector needs to be able to incorporate land into their processes and strategies,” said Violaine Berger of WBCSD.
Participants considered a recent economic analysis by ELD on business exposure to the risks of land degradation and the benefits of sustainable land management as portrayed in the ELD Business Brief, Opportunity Lost.
They agreed to develop a toolkit for the private sector for sustainable land management and developed a clear plan on further steps in engaging the private sector in sustainable land management.
The meeting also marked the first step in developing an innovative training programme to be used in the Soil Leadership Academy. The academy, an initiative of the UNCCD in partnership with Syngenta and WBCSD, aims to build the capacity of policy makers in sustainable land and soil management and to encourage them to design and implement policies for sustainable soil and land management practices.
Participants proposed an ambitious programme with a timeline to start the training beginning of 2015 and the use of interactive approaches such as simulation exercises, practical case studies, field demonstrations, videos and smartphone apps.
The UN Global Compact also presented the Food and Agriculture Business Principles and received inputs for the draft framework to guide the development of global principles for sustainable soil management and use, in the context of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
“What we are seeing is a post-2015 scenario where companies are expressly required to play a role in bringing solutions for food security to bear. This type of meeting is where we find convergence in thought between governments and the private sector, with UN agencies acting as honest brokers. We are beginning to adopt common language between these different sectors,” said Puvan Selvanathan of the Global Compact.
“We will have another meeting at the end of June 2014 so that our partners can be much more involved. Our next step is to work on the content of the toolkit and to integrate this process into a working group, which will contribute to the publication of the ELD Business Report in 2015,” said Mark Schauer, head of the ELD Initiative.
WBCSD plans to present the outcomes of the meeting to their constituency meeting in April.
The report of the meeting will be released shortly.
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