Innlegg ráðherra í General Debate

 “From Rio+20 to post-2015: towards an integrated and universal sustainable development agenda”


Mr. President,

In Rio two years ago, we did a fine job mapping the various challenges we face. We also pinpointed some measures to address these challenges. Now we owe it to ourselves – and to those who come after us – to successfully implement these solutions.

Mr. President,

I´d like to draw your attention to topics, which until now have not received the attention they deserve in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda. These include desertification, land degradation and drought.

In Rio, we agreed to “strive to achieve a land-degradation neutral world in the context of sustainable development”.

This has now been restated as a target in the newest version of the Zero Draft Document, to be discussed in the Open Working Group on sustainable development goals. I mention this here to strongly encourage you to support this as a target. We must make sure that it remains a target, and further, to make sure that next year it will be part of the New Post-2015 Development Agenda.

You may ask, what does this mean in reality and how can we achieve this?

Let me first state that the idea behind this concept is simple. We must rehabilitate or restore land, equal to or more than is lost to land degradation.

Work is under way, by an Intergovernmental Working Group to establish a science-based definition of land degradation neutrality and to develop options on how to achieve it.

Is this achievable ?  YES it is. Firstly, it is the view of many well-known and acclaimed scientists that this is possible and secondly, based on my country’s own experience.

You may be surprised to hear an Icelander advocate for these issues. But you will not when you learn about our story of land degradation. Something we have struggled with for a long time.

The largest desert in Europe is actually in Iceland.  Today in Iceland we claim that we have reached land degradation neutrality. It was not easy, but when we realized that there was no other choice, it became a passion of our nation to reach that goal and do better for our future generations.

Mr. President,

Every country must have clear policies for sustainable land management to be able to achieve land degradation neutrality. Therefore, sustainable land management must be a target within the goal to “end hunger, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Management that involves and gives responsibility to those who are closest to the land has provided results. With this in mind, how can we not mention land and soil in a goal to fight hunger?

We will not be able to feed 9 billion people by 2050, combat poverty, protect biodiversity, adapt to climate change or stop deforestation without sustainable land management.

I thank you Mr. President.

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