Korea is to play host to the world’s biggest gathering to combat desertification for the first time in Asia in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province.
Slated for Oct. 10-21, prominent desertification experts and government officials from 194 member nations of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification will visit the southern city of South Korea to promote reforestation projects in Asia, Africa and other regions facing the problem.
During the 12-day symposium, the Korea Forest Service organized a two-day business forum on the sidelines to gather private sector leaders to discuss the impact of desertification on the world economy.
“Desertification, land degradation and drought represent acute challenges to human and business security and stability,” the state agency said.
UNCCD is the world’s first and only legally binding convention created to address the problem of desertification. It was established in 1997 and has held its annual forum in the Americas, Europe and Africa. Changwon’s hosting, an initiative suggested by the KFS, is a first for Asia.
“As the only global legally-binding instrument on land, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification provides a unique mechanism to build linkages between the vital issues of water shortage, soil fertility, food security, rural development and sustainable management of land, in a time of climatic change,” the KFS said.
The Sustainable Land Management Business Forum invites participation from up to 100 companies from home and abroad. Registration is open until Sept. 15 and participating executives will be notified of the details of the SLM Business Forum by the end of September. The KFS, hosting the forum, expects to gather CEOs of businesses whose interests are to restore wasted land and preserve biodiversity of nature increasingly affected by desertification.
The two-day session will foster discussion to forge collaboration on land where business talents can be harnessed to promote a global public good. Leaders will be able to explore business opportunities and encourage practices in dryland markets. Possible topics are how to improve the conditions of affected ecosystems and the living conditions of their populations. They are designed to deliver ongoing dialogue between CEOs and policymakers, opinion leaders and environment activists. It will be co-hosted by the KFS and Gyeongnam Province.
“The aim will be to reflect on the environmental impact of business on land and of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought on business, to explore practical options to exercise corporate social responsibility and to promote opportunities in the dry lands that bring mutual benefit to community and business sector alike,” the KFS said.
The 12-day UNCCD COP 10 conference, the main event, is expected to raise public awareness of desertification and land degradation. Changwon was chosen to host the 10th Session of the conference in 2009 Buenos Aires forum.
The KFS and Gyeongnam Province in the past year launched campaigns on combating desertification to encourage non-governmental organizations and individuals to participate in the international event.
“An advisory council will be organized to incorporate a variety of opinions from relevant experts and NGOs,” KFS said.
By Cynthia J. Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)