BEIJING, July 18 -- The second conference of the intergovernmental panel for follow-upactions of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) was held in Beijing on July 16. More than 30 representatives from 26 countries and regions attended the three-day meeting, which focused on the goal of achieving a zero increase in land degradation set at the Rio+20 conference. Zhang Yongli, deputy administrator of the State Forestry Administration, and Monique Barbut, executive secretary  of the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, attended and spoke at the conference.

Zhang Yongli said land degradation poses a grave threat to grain security, worsens ecological deterioration, triggers regional conflicts, causes the flows of ecological refugees and leads to poverty in the rural areas.

In China, Zhang said, the desertified and degraded land amounted to 2.623 million square kilometers and more than 400 million are being affected. After painstaking efforts in the past five decades, the trend of desertification has been basically checked.China’s practices in the prevention and control of desertification have proven that the goal of a zero increase of land degradation could be achieved.

Zhang said that the year 2014 is the final year for the millennium development goals set by the United Nations, and it is an urgent task to set the development goals for 2015. He hoped that all parties would seek common grounds while shelving differences, and work together to achieve the goal of a zero increase in degraded land by 2030, and make concerted efforts and contributions to building a sound ecology for human development.

Monique Barbut praised the efforts and achievements of all countries in the prevention of desertification and land degradation, and analyzed the current situation and tasks in the areas.

She said the goals for sustainable development called for all government to make bold and vigorous explorations and actions, and the zero increase in degraded land is an important and achievable goal. In the process of achieving the objective, she said, all governments should share their success experiences, and work together for the missions of grain security, ecological restoration and poverty alleviation. She also promised that the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification will provide necessary support and assistance within its capacity.

At the 11th conference of the Parties in 2013, the intergovernmental panel for follow-up actions of the United Nations  Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) was set up to discuss follow-up actions for the goal of zero increase in degraded land agreed up at the Rio+20 conference. The panel meeting clearly defined the zero growth in degraded land and measures to be taken for attaining the goal.

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