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Remarks by Ambassador LIU Jieyi at the Meeting of the Group of Friends of A Pollution-Free World on Combating Desertification

2017/06/20

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the Meeting of our Group of Friends of A Pollution-Free World, and thanks for participating in today’s discussions on combating desertification .

I’d like to give special thanks to H.E. Mr. Macharia Kamau, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kenya to the United Nations for his initiative to form the Group of Friends of A Pollution-Free World. Under his able leadership, the Group of Friends had our first meeting on addressing marine pollution, which was quite productive.

Today, Macharia and I will co-chair the second Meeting of our Group of Friends. Our discussions will focus on combating desertification. Desertification threatens one fifth of the world’s population in two thirds of the world’s countries and regions. To bend the curve requires an integrated approach, including environmental protection and improvement, poverty alleviation and socio-economic sustainable development.

In 2015, the UN Development Summit adopted the milestone 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and set the goal of A Land-degradation Neutral World by 2030, which provides framework of international cooperation and partnership.

To start our discussion, I’d like to briefly introduce some of China’s ideas and practices in our fight against desertification. China attaches equal importance to ecological improvement and economic development, and has adopted a parallel approach to combating desertification and eradicating poverty.

First, China has introduced innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development in its macro policy framework, the 13th five-year plan for economic and social development and has been implementing the vision during combating desertification and eradicating poverty. We are fostering a conservation culture and building a clean and beautiful China where people are in harmony with nature. China has launched national projects to protect natural forests, reforest reclaimed farmland, and return grazing land to grassland. A series of measures including logging and farming bans have also been put in place to protect the environment.

Second, China has channeled more funds into environmental protection and encouraged all sectors of society to participate in conservation. The integrated and holistic approach has significantly improved the efficacy of our efforts to combat desertification.

Third, China has been spreading the good practice, techniques and models drawn from key projects such as the Beijing-Tianjin Sandstorm Source Control Project and the Three-North Shelter Forest Program. By developing water-efficient, circular, sightseeing and modern agriculture, we have not only protected the environment, but also brought tangible benefits to the people and upgraded local economic structure.

It is especially worth mentioning that two important technologies have made a big difference in China’s fight against desertification.

The first is the straw checkerboard technology which is applied to fixate sand dunes. It requires straw, usually from wheat, reed or rice, to be partially buried in the sand and laid out in a checkerboard shape. Meanwhile, shrubs like Caragana and Salix are planted along its side. Each square-meter grid protects the sand inside from wind, injects organic matter and nutrients into the sand, and serves as a bed for vegetation to grow. In some time, lichen, ferns, herbs and shrubs will take turns to grow, and eventually turn a desert into oasis.

The second technology is called Juncao Technology. Juncao generally refers to wild or planted herbs utilized to cultivate edible or medicinal mushrooms. They can also prevent erosion due to their developed root system, fast growth and strong stress resistance. Within 100 days, they can fixate sand dunes and significantly improve soil quality. Compared with Artemisia (a plant commonly seen in China’s deserts), Giant Grass (a typical Juncao variety) has 20 times more roots that are 5.6 times heavier and 1.11 times longer. A single Giant Grass is able to fixate 15.2 square meters’ sand dunes.

Since 2006, this Chinese technology has made great progress against soil erosion along the upper reaches of the Nile in Rwanda. Compared with land planted with traditional local crops, land planted with Giant Grass has 97.6% less soil erosion; land interplanted with Giant Grass and corn has 89.1% less soil erosion and 80% less water loss.

While redoubling its efforts to combat desertification at home, China has also been actively engaged in South-South cooperation under frameworks such as the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation and China-Arab States Cooperation Forum. We have established demonstration centers in developing countries and held many training courses to promote relevant technologies.

This Coming September, China will host the 13th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP 13) in the city of Ordos, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The focus of the conference will be technical exchange and experience sharing and international cooperation on combating desertification. I hope that in the spirit of win-win cooperation, our Group of Friends will continue to make joint efforts to build a community of shared future for mankind and eco-friendly and green homeland for everyone.

Thank you.

(Photo by Li Muzi, Xinhua News Agency)

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