FAO Investment Centre

Portuguese-speaking countries join in fight against desertification


“Improving the quality of life of rural populations affected by desertification and drought” is the principal objective of a South-South and North-South Cooperation Programme to Combat Desertification, which was presented by the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) on 12 September 2007 in Madrid, during a side-event co-organized by FAO within the framework of the Eighth Conference of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) convened from 3 to 14 September. Participants of the event included high-level members from the governments of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Portugal, Saõ Tomé and Principe, who represented their respective Ministers of the Environment.

“Several initiatives exist in CPLP countries, but there is no systematic approach to generate favourable conditions for a greater and more efficient investment in land management”, noted Lolita Hilario, representative of the Ministry of Coordination of Environmental Affairs for the Government of Mozambique, who was responsible for presenting the strategy against desertification. The four elements that will ensure the success of this initiative are, according to Hilario: institutional strengthening, environmental awareness and ownership, scientific and technological development, as well as collaboration and synergies among the various interventions in this field.

The CPLP cooperation strategy to combat desertification was launched during the Seventh Conference of Parties of the UNCCD held in Nairobi in October 2005. The Executive Secretary of the CPLP, Ambassador Luís Fonseca, congratulated all the countries that took part in the development of this strategy, in particular Brazil and Portugal, as well as the Secretariat of the UNCCD, the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD and FAO, for their support to the initiative. Fonseca also emphasized the increasing international importance of the problem of desertification, recognized by the Millennium Development Goals, and the necessity to initiate development of concrete projects. He also encouraged member countries to mobilize support for this initiative through the Special Fund of the CPLP to assure effective achievement of the Programme and attainment of its objectives.

After the interventions by representatives of the governments of the participating countries, Alejandro Kilpatrick of the Global Mechanism reiterated his commitment of support to the CPLP initiative and emphasized that South-South Cooperation is a more efficient approach for the use of available resources and mobilization of new funds. Kilpatrick further noted that the initiative had risen from a collaboration between the Global Mechanism and the FAO Investment Centre, and benefited from the active support of Portugal, as a member country of the CPLP and as pro tempore president of the European Union.

Collaboration between FAO and the CPLP began with an agreement in September 1999 and reviewed on 11 September 2007 between Luís Fonseca and the Director-General of FAO, Jacques Diouf, who met in Lisbon to discuss areas for cooperation between both Organizations, and confirmed their will to develop joint activities to fight hunger and promote rural development.

For more information, contact Luc Dubreuil, Global Mechanism/FAO Investment Centre focal point, e-mail: [email protected].