Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification is currently on a visit to Iceland. The convention is one of the three main UN environmental conventions created at a conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and this is the first time Icelandic is visited by one of its executive secretaries.
Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, held a meeting with Ms Barbut this morning. At the meeting, Ms Barbut commented that Iceland‘s strong tradition and extensive experience of land restoration can prove useful in international context, as desertification and soil erosion are among the greatest challenges facing humanity, posing a threat to food security. A United Nations University Land Restoration Training Programme (UNU-LRT), receiving numerous students from developing countries, is currently operated in Iceland.
The foreign minister and Ms Barbut also discussed how Iceland has, this year, placed ever increasing emphasis on matters of land use within the UN, e.g. by establishing and leading a group of states on those matters at the UN headquarters in New York. The minister also emphasised that matters of land use should get due attention in new development targets that are currently being prepared with the UN.
Ms Barbut spoke at an open meeting at the National Museum of Iceland along with the environment minister and her speech is available here.