The Executive Secretary of the UNCCD visits UNU-LRT

3 June 2014
Ms Monique Barbut at the UNU-LRT meeting
Ms Monique Barbut at the UNU-LRT meeting

The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Ms Monique Barbut, was in Iceland this week. During her stay she had a meeting with fellows, staff members and the Studies Committee of UNU-LRT. This was an honour for the programme, especially because it is rooted in the Convention and works towards the same objectives: to combat land degradation and desertification.

At the meeting, the UNU-LRT fellows shared their thoughts on challenges in their home countries and how they foresee the training at UNU-LRT will be beneficial in their work when they return home. Ms Barbut acknowledged the activities at UNU-LRT and pointed out how the programme fills the objectives of the UNCCD. She also talked about the necessity of globalizing the issue, as land degradation and desertification is not only a concern of the world´s dry areas but affects people and countries all over the world through for example food insecurity. Restoring degraded land has furthermore a direct link to risk reduction of natural disasters such as floods and droughts.  Additionally, she spoke about the importance of assuring women’s rights to land which would help increase food production.    

During her two days stay, Ms Barbut visited South Iceland where she was introduced to land degradation and desertification challenges in Iceland, where sever land degradation has led to the formation of barren deserts in spite of humid climate. She also visited the Visitor´s Centre at the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland in Gunnarsholt, where the history of land restoration in Iceland is told. Moreover, Ms Barbut gave a talk entitled A Secure Future – powered by the land at an open meeting at the National Museum of Iceland.  The meeting was attended by the UNU-LRT fellows who got a second opportunity to join the discussions on the pressing global issues of food security, land restoration, sustainable land management and the like.