International conference on semi-arid regions begins in Brazil

09:02, August 17, 2010      

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The second International Conference on Climate, Sustainability and Development in Semi-Arid Regions (ICID 2010) began on Monday at the Convention Center in Fortaleza, capital of the Brazilian state of Ceara.

The meeting brings together policy makers, scientists and members of civil society to promote safe and sustainable development in semi-arid regions of the world.

To support the possible Rio+20 (in 2012) and other global public policy forums, ICID 2010 aims at maximizing the development effects of the existing conventions of the United Nations on climate change, biodiversity protection and the fight against desertification.

The opening ceremony was attended by Coordinator of ICID 2010 Antonio Rocha Magalhaes, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Luc Gnacadja, World Bank Director Makhtar Diop, Executive Secretary of Brazil's Ministry of Environment Jose Machado, and Governor of Ceara Cid Gomes.

During the Conference, the Decade on Deserts and Combating Desertification will be launched. The initiative aims at promoting global discussion up to 2021 in search of alternatives to reduce environmental impacts in semi-arid ecosystems and desertification on the planet.

ICID 2010, which will end on Aug. 20, takes place 18 years after the first ICID in 1992, which offered people living in arid areas the opportunity to speak during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro.

During the current conference, the discussions will focus on four thematic areas: Information on Weather; Climate and Sustainable Development; Governance and Sustainable Development; and Public Policy Process and Institutions.

In addition to discussions and presentations by specialists and policy makers, a plenary session will be held on Tuesday, with the participation of representatives of Brazil's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of the three United Nations conventions related to environment.

The areas considered by UNCCD to be at desertification risk are the arid, semi-arid and sub-humid zones and all lands with aridity index between 0.05 and 0.65, with the exception of those located in polar and sub-polar regions.

Thirty-five percent of the world's population, or about 2.6 billion people, live in arid lands, which cover forty-one percent of the planet's surface, coinciding largely with the poor population in the world.

Not only people living in these regions are the most exposed to extreme weather conditions, according to the IPCC, but the world's arid lands are also likely to be the most affected by climate change.

However, these people are underrepresented in discussions on measures to be taken in relation to climate and development.

ICID 2010 will result in the production of recommendations to guide the analysis and formulation of public policies on local, regional, national and global levels in order to reduce vulnerability and improve the lives of the inhabitants of those regions.

Source: Xinhua


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