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What is the COP15 conference and what does it hope to achieve?

Policymakers and climate experts have convened in the Ivory Coast for the 15th session of a UN summit. Sharing the name of annual sustainability conference COP, this meeting focuses specifically on protecting land against infertility and degradation.

As you’re reading this, policymakers and climate experts are convening in the economic capital of the Ivory Coast, Abidjan, for day two to discuss global action on land issues.

Headed up by the UN, this is the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) officially called the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

Unlike its global namesake summit, which took place in Glasgow last November, there will be no G7 presidents flying in or celebrity activists taking the stage. Instead, a smaller scale of international policymaking, scientific presentations, and civil society action will take place within the Sofitel Abidjan Hotel Ivoire.

In principle, what COP26 was (in theory) for legislation on air quality and the climate, COP15 strives to be for land protection and restoration.

Around 2,000 attendees are expected over the next two weeks, with the majority of ministers and key delegates hailing from African countries.

They will discuss all manner of land issues from soil degradation and deforestation, to biodiversity loss and forced migration – and hopefully get some ways towards improving the overall picture for each with funding, policy, and support.

As it stands, within the host nation, 92% of primary forests have been lost since it gained independence in 1960 and almost 60% of all crop-growing land is affected by soil degradation.

This is compounded by the fact that a significant portion of the continent had been heavily reliant on crop imports like wheat and vegetable oil from Russia and Ukraine.

Following the invasion, supply lines have become inconsistent, prices are being hiked up, and the food security crisis is worsening. The scarcer resources become, the more forced migration, poverty, and domestic conflicts will escalate throughout vulnerable areas too.

COP26 was hardly a resounding success for legislation to protect developing regions, but Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara is reportedly working on a new €1.4bn global cooperation plan to inject a fresh sense of urgency.

Exactly what this overarching reform will look like in its final form should become more apparent over the course of COP15.

‘At COP15, Cote d’Ivoire will launch a new global cooperation framework to restore forests and land, boost food production, create jobs for young people, and lift rural women out of poverty,’ he announced.

‘We call on all countries to honour the pledges made at the 2015 Paris climate accords to fund this important work.’

Similarly to COP26, youth will play a big part over the remainder of the summit, and rightly so – given 60% of Africa’s population is under 25. The two main concerns being brought to the table thus far by Gen Z is a lack of sustainable food and agriculture systems as well as water scarcity.

We’ll be sure to keep a close eye for major developments throughout the coming days, and will provide a comprehensive overview of the conference once it concludes.

In the meantime, keep it locked to Thred.


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