February 28, 2024

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Commonwealth unveils framework to help countries implement Living Lands Charter

A new implementation framework was launched yesterday 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 Commonwealth Secretariat unveiled the Living Lands Charter Implementation Framework at a high-level event on 3 December 2023 in Dubai, organised alongside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP28).

The event comes after extensive consultations with Commonwealth countries since the adoption of the Living Lands Charter last year. It offered Commonwealth leaders, ministers, and development partners an opportunity to learn about the framework, share country experiences and foster collaboration on land issues.

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

‘A giant leap forward’

Opening the event, 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. 

‘An urgent priority’

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.

“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.”

UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “Land degradation is affecting 3.2 billion people. Most of those affected are in the Commonwealth because of the diversity of its members.”

“The biggest threat to security in the world today is environmental destruction,” he added. “We must be clear that living lands is not only about a sector or a line ministry but also about entire nations and livelihoods.”

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.

About the Commonwealth

  • The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 56 independent and equal sovereign states. Our combined population is 2.5 billion, of which more than 60 per cent is aged 29 or under.
  • The Commonwealth spans the globe and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. Thirty-three of our members are small states, many of which are island nations.
  • The Commonwealth Secretariat supports member countries to build democratic and inclusive institutions, strengthen governance and promote justice and human rights. Our work helps to grow economies and boost trade, deliver national resilience, empower young people, and address threats such as climate change, debt and inequality.
  • Member countries are supported by a network of more than 80 intergovernmental, civil society, cultural and professional organisations.

Email: s.abbasi@commonwealth.int

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