SYDNEY, Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A partnership to combat land degration and climate change was officially announced today in Sydney jointly by the UNCCD and the China Elion Foundation at the 6th World Park Congress. A total of 1.3 billion trees will be planted along the Silk Road in 10 years, with the "Greening Silk Road Partnership" setting its eye on mending degraded land and tackling climate change for world peace and security.
UNCCD, which stands for UN Convention of Combating Desertification, is a global platform that addresses desertification and land degradation. And, the Elion Group is a leading Chinese company specialized in land remediation and ecological rehabilitation that is based in Inner Mongolia's Kubuqi Desert. The Kubuqi Desert is China's seventh largest desert.
The 1.3 billion trees are expected to rehabilitate more than 1,300,000 hectares of land in the ecologically vulnerable regions along the Silk Road and contribute dramatically to carbon sequestration. Desert and desertification present a major challenge to this region's development. As statistics show, a total of 500 million hectare of rehabilitated degraded land could sequester about one third of global GHG emissions today. And importantly, the effort is aligned with the sustainable development strategy along the Silk Road put forward by Chinese representatives at the recently concluded APEC Summit in Beijing.
More than 5,000 participants are at the World Park Congress that is themed as Park, People and Planet: Inspiring Solutions. At the Congress, an article titled "Mending Degraded Land to Promote World Peace and Security" was released that was co-authored by Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary-General, and Wang Wenbiao, Chairman of the Elion Resources Group and the recipient with distinction of 2013 "World Dryland Champion". The article calls for partnership and commitment of all countries, public and private sectors, to invest in alleviating poverty, combating desertification and climate change, and promoting ecological civilization along the Silk Road.
The world today is embattled by 36 million square kilometers of land classified as deserts and desertification, with an expansion rate of 50,000-70,000 square kilometers every year. More than 2 billion people live in those regions. At Rio+20 in 2012, the UNCCD set a global goal of zero growth of desertification by 2030, as an important element of "The Future We Want", the joint statement by all political leaders at the Summit.
Back in July this year, Madam Monique Barbut, the newly elected Executive Secretary-General of UNCCD, paid a visit to Kubuqi in China. She witnessed the achievements and successes of the efforts led by the Elion Group in Kubuqi that have restored an area of more than 600,000 hectares of deserts to oases through a sustainable business model.
Barbut spoke highly of the efforts, best practices and the business model in combating desertification and land-based climate adaptation in China and especially in Kubuqi. She said, Kubuqi has set a good role model and business model for the global community to learn from in terms of degraded land rehabilitation and addressing climate change. The model is an innovation that emphasizes harmony and balance between the ecosystems, the economy and the people.
She greatly appreciated China's national strategy of ecological civilization and sustainable development along the Silk Road that is fortressed by ambitious targets and actions. And, she believes that the efforts to rehabilitate degraded land in China could offer a whole new perspective of the country's efforts in tackling climate change.
"Chinese society is responding actively to the Silk Road Sustainable Development Strategy," said Wang Wenbiao, Chairman of the Elion Resources Group. "The Elion Resources Group is committed to taking the lead in implementing the Greening Silk Road Partnership in China's Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Hebei Province, and other developing countries. And through the joint partnership with UNCCD and many others, we hope that our successes will be shared and scaled up at regional and global levels to effectively tackle land degradation and climate change."
"The innovation lies in the fact that this initiative represents the partnership of public, private and local people (PPPP), a model we have explored and developed in Kubuqi," said Wang. "And the Elion Resources Group is well positioned to share our experiences, lessons, as well as technical solutions and business model for a more concerted effort to address such global challenges as land degradation and climate change."
In order to successfully expand the efforts, human talent become critical. As part of the joint initiative, the Elion Resources Group and UNCCD have also agreed to join hands to launch the Kubuqi Global Desert Institute. The Institute will be dedicated to offering capacity building and enhancing innovation for human resources in countries along the Silk Road and other developing countries to build up a human talents pool to address global challenges.
The Institute calls for support and partnership from public and private sectors to foster the innovation and leadership for a sustainable future.