Arid nations seek aid, attack globalization
( 2003-09-02 09:31) (Agencies)
Leaders from Africa and the Caribbean called on rich nations on Monday to put their money where their mouths were and provide funds to help arid regions where the livelihood of 1 billion people is threatened.
The loss of 250 million acres a year of fertile soil due to deforestation, drought, over-grazing and climate change is undermining the food security of 1.2 billion people in 110 countries, according to the UNCCD. The most serious cases are in sub-Saharan Africa.
"The enthusiasm that the convention negotiations sparked has waned and the hopes of our populations have been disappointed," said Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore.
Without adequate financing the convention, designed as a tool for poverty reduction and environmental preservation, would become a dead letter, he said.
The recent deadly heat wave in Europe, he added, "serves as a cold reminder of our shared destiny" on this planet.
The heads of government of Burkina Faso, Mali, Gambia, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba, Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Saint Vincent attended the opening of the two-day summit along with delegates from 170 countries.
The convention members must decide on the adoption of the Global Environmental Facility as a financing mechanism.
The GEF, the largest single source of funding for the global environment, has $500 million to spend on grants for land degradation projects over the next three years.
GEF Chairman Len Good said the funds would be used to promote sustainable and innovative land management in developing nations affected by land degradation.
Several leaders used the occasion of the U.N. meeting to blame free-market economic globalization for the world's environmental ills.
"Globalization has caused rampant environmental abuse by multinational corporations," Jamaican Prime Minister Percival Patterson said.
Host President Fidel Castro of Cuba criticized what he called "the atrocious economic system imposed on the world, the ruthless neoliberal globalization" and said it was incompatible with a sustainable environment.
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