From 9th to 20th May 2022, the ECOWAS Commission will take part in the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification to be held at the Sofitel Hotel Ivoire in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire under the theme "Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity". This important meeting is a key moment in the fight against desertification, land degradation and drought that follows the COP 14 held in New Delhi, India in 2019.
The ECOWAS delegation will be led by His Excellency Mr. Jean Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission. He will be assisted by Mr. Sékou Sangaré, Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources and Mrs. Fanta Cissé, ECOWAS Resident Representative in Côte d'Ivoire. More than 5,000 experts and politicians from 197 countries around the world that are parties to the Convention are expected to attend this conference to try to propose solutions to the depletion of cultivable soil.
The Heads of State and Government Summit to be held on May 9th, 2022 at the invitation of the President of Côte d'Ivoire, His Excellency Mr. Alassane Ouattara, will launch the Abidjan Initiative to urgently implement concrete solutions to desertification and drought. Parallel discussions around ministerial/high-level roundtables will focus on the following topics: (i) rights, rewards and responsibilities: the future of land management, (ii) land restoration: a path to sustainable post-pandemic recovery, (iii) the big drought: from disaster to drought resilience, (iv) land regeneration: the role of youth in shaping a sustainable land agenda, and (v) future-proofing land use : changing production and consumption patterns. From May 9th to May 20th, negotiators from country parties will discuss draft decisions to strengthen the implementation of the Convention.
In West Africa, FAO indicates that the desert is moving at an annual rate of 5 km in semi-arid areas. In addition, from 1975 to 2018, about 2.2 million km2 of degraded land were recorded. This is a real threat that often leads people in rural areas to rush to urban areas because of the scarcity of arable land. Throughout the Conference, the ECOWAS experts will sit in several other parallel sessions and panels on various themes to learn from best practices and recommendations in terms of reducing desert encroachment, particularly in West Africa.