Int'l alliance launched to fight drought
Leaders from over 25 countries and 20 organisations on Monday launched the International Drought Resilience Alliance to accelerate action and help countries be better prepared for future droughts.
The declaration was made at the sidelines of the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference that opened in Egypt, said a press release of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
It said leaders from all sectors pledged to drive change in how the world tackles the growing drought risks: moving from emergency response to building long-term resilience.
Droughts have been hitting more often and harder than before, up nearly by a third since 2000 and climate change is expected to cause more severe droughts in the future.
The recent ones in Australia, Europe, western United States, Chile, the Horn and Southern Africa, shows no country or region is immune to their impacts. Billions of dollars are spent each year to tackle droughts, while human suffering continues.
In a joint statement, President Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón of Spain and President Macky Sall of Senegal said, "We are only as resilient to climate change as our land is. Building resilience to drought disasters is the way to secure the gains we make on each sustainable development goal, particularly for the most vulnerable people. The mission of the alliance is to give political impetus to make the land's resilience to drought and climate change a reality by 2030."
Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary of UNCCD, said, "We are in a race for drought resilience and it's a race we can win. Drought is a natural hazard but does not have to lead to human disaster. The solutions are available, and we can create a drought resilient world by increasing our ambition, harnessing the political will, and joining forces to act together."
The Alliance will be bolstered by new political commitments to support its work and catalyse a process to mobilise more resources for this agenda, said a press release.
It said the Alliance called on leaders to make drought resilience a priority in national development and cooperation, including deepening the engagement of stakeholders, such as the private sector.
One the Alliance's key objectives is promoting the consolidation of regional initiatives to fast-track sharing of innovation, technology transfer and mobilisation of resources.
It will also collaborate with other platforms, including the initiative launched by the UN Secretary-General and the World Meteorological Organization, to achieve universal coverage of early warning systems and regional initiatives to reap the maximum benefits of working together on drought resilience.
Presidents Sánchez and Sall rallied world leaders to create the Alliance as "a specific solution for the United Nations" for the impacts of climate change.
Building the resilience presents an opportunity to significantly reduce the high human, social and economic costs of drought.
These range from the loss of life, livelihoods and biodiversity, to water and food insecurity, disruption in the energy, transportation and tourism sectors, as well as forced migration, displacement, and conflicts over scarce resources.