This article is written by Charlotte Blondel.
The international summit of non-state actors on desertification, Désertif’Actions 2017, took place in Strasbourg, France, from 26th to 28th June, 2017. It was co-organized by Climate Chance, CARI and the UN Convention on Desertification (UNCCD), and supported by the city of Strasbourg.
Désertif’Actions is a gathering of non-state actors that focus on the phenomenon of desertification and its related issues. The 2017 edition aimed at gathering actors from the climate change field, that generally operate under the UNFCCC’s auspices, and actors from the desertificaiton and land sectors, acting in relation to the UNCCD. The Strasbourg meeting allowed to create synergies between these two categories of actors, as the issues of climate change and land degradation are deeply intertwined. These issues call for concrete and concerted actions at the international and local levels. The challenge of civil society organizations is now to organize and coordinate their actions, as the COP13 of the UNCCD will take place in September in Inner Mongolia, and the COP23 is also approaching. The ideas developed in Strasbourg will also serve the Climate Chance summit in Agadir in September.
Youth has been well represented at Désertif’Actions : during the opening plenary I had the pleasure to intervene in order to highlight the great synergies that already exist within YOUNGO between countries and disciplines. I also emphasized the need for more education and information on difficult topics such as desertification. Finally, Max, young delegate from the Netherlands, also intervened during the closing plenary and stressed the importance of youth representation in international discussions.
Many workshops took place during this conference, on various topics linked to desertification : local cultures, agriculture, great green wall, finance, gender…I had the pleasure to moderate the panel on migrations, which lead to very interesting discussions and the design of ideas and solutions : consideration must be given for traditional cultures in the design of global solutions, and international organizations must have a case-by-case approach when designing plans for relocation.
The summit ended by the adoption of a Declaration, where youth and migrations are explicitely mentioned (along many other important topics !). The Declaration emphasizes the needs for respect and restauration of the land, the need of funding, the importance of traditional practices to help protecting the land and forest, as well as the need to protect and foster the activities of small farmers.
The full text of the Declaration is available on the Désertif’Actions’ website : http://www.desertif-actions.fr/rapport/
About the author: Charlotte Blondel is currently completing her master degree in International Law within the Global Alliance Program between Columbia University, Sciences Po Paris and Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. She holds a dual bachelor in Political Sciences and History from Sciences Po Paris and Paris IV Paris-Sorbonne. Her studies brought her to Berkeley, California, for an exchange year, as well as New York during her master program. She has been working with refugees and asylum seekers within the association France Terre d’Asile. She has also been an active member of CliMates since 2015. In January 2016, she launched the Youth on the Move initiative along with Marine Denis. She speaks French, English and Spanish and is currently learning Arabic!