STATEMENT BY Ms. OCHIR ENKHTSETSEG,
DIRECTOR-GENERAL DEPARTMENT OF MULTILATERAL COOPERATION
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF MONGOLIA


3 November 2005


Mr. Chairman,
My delegation wishes to associate itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of Jamaica on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on the agenda item 52. I wish to confine my brief intervention today to the issues related to desertification.

Mongolia welcomes the launch of the International Year of Deserts and Desertification to be observed in 2006 as an important opportunity to further enhance the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification through greater awareness-raising, resource mobilization and effective partnerships.

 The underlying causes of desertification and its long-term implications are, indeed, manifold. Desertification has already engulfed almost 30 percent of the total land area of the world and as estimated by UNEP it costs the international community $42 billion a year. The magnitude of desertification are even higher when it comes to human cost as livelihoods of more than a billion people – almost a fifth of the entire population of the globe – are at risk. The interrelatedness between and multiplier effects of desertification, poverty and migration have been increasingly recognized by the international community. This recognition has been further reaffirmed in the important international commitments, particularly the AGENDA 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Action. The importance of the mobilization of adequate and predictable financial resources, the transfer of technology and capacity-building at all levels to address the causes of desertification and land degradation, as well as poverty resulting from land degradation has been further underscored in the Summit Outcome of last September. These commitments now have to be translated into a well-coordinated action at international, national and local levels if we are serious about achieving the goals of sustainable development and MDGs on time.

Mr.Chairman,

As a state party to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification Mongolia adopted the National Plan of Action to Combat Desertification (NPACD) in 2003, and set up a national committee consisting of representatives of government agencies, academia and NGOs entrusted with the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention. The National Plan of Action aims at improving the legal, economic and management arrangements to combat desertification, as well as at formulating and implementing strategies designed to prevent and halt the spread of desertification through conducting studies on root-causes and physical, biological and socio-economic implications of desertification, introducing anti-desertification technology and know-how, creating information-monitoring networks, organizing awareness-raising campaigns at national and local levels and developing regional and international cooperation.

As one of the world's most arid region, Mongolia has a high rate of drought occurrence. Droughts affecting 25 percent of the total territory occur once in every 2-3 years, while droughts covering half of the country occur every 4-5 years. As studies further indicate over the period from 1990 to 2000 the areas affected by droughts has increased by 3.4 percent, and areas engulfed by desertification has increased by 5.4 percent especially in the Gobi desert region which covers over 42% of the territory of Mongolia totaling 647 thousand square km.

With a view to combating desertification and land degradation my Government takes a host of multifaceted activities. For one, it has launched this year an ambitious program of creating “Green Belt” to cover 2,500 kilometer strip with trees and vegetation over the next 30 years. By implementing this program, we expect that the Mongolia’s forested area will increase by 7.3 percent that will in turn help halt the spread of desertification and sand movement.

Anti-desertification strategies have also been reflected in national development policies, including Ecological Concept, Mongolian Action Program on sustainable development for the 21st Century (MAP-21), National Water Program, National Program on Forestry, and National Program on Natural Disasters Reduction.

All in all, long and short-term measures designed to strengthen national and local capacity to combat desertification, create legal framework for the appropriate use and protection of natural resources, establish sustainable pastureland use and management systems, increase public awareness and local participation require not only commitment and concerted efforts but also adequate financial support and cooperation. In this regard my delegation welcomes the inclusion of problems of land degradation and desertification as a focal area of the Global Environmental Facility’s portfolio and looks forward to the conclusion of the Memorandum of Understanding between the GEF and UNCCD so that affected country Parties to the Convention could receive more support in their implementation efforts.

I thank you, Mr.Chairman