COP 12: The World is Discussing Desertification

Ten days long a huge number of decision makers from 195 states will discuss solutions related to desertification, land degradation and drought in Ankara during the Twelfth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12). SEKEM will be one of them and is invited to share its experiences about sustainable land reclamation and dealing with desert land.

For its commitment to combating soil erosion and protecting soil fertility SEKEM was recently selected to be the winner of the Land for Life Award 2015. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) who initiated the award is now also hosting the COP 12.

“We are hoping to find out more about sustainable ways for financing desert land reclamation in super arid climate zones”, Maximilian Abouleish-Boes says, who accepted the Land for Life Award and will attend COP 12 in behalf of SEKEM. “The question is not if we reclaim our desert or not. The question is if we do it sustainably and for future generation”, the SEKEM representative tells.

“Invest in the land is to invest in sustainable livelihoods…”

In this regard SEKEM already organized a workshop on possible routes towards advancing sustainable agriculture on a national scale in Egypt in cooperation with the Egyptian ministry for agriculture. This event was also held to boost the Government’s “1.5 Million Feddan Initiative” that can be supported by SEKEM as a best practice example. “To invest in the land is to invest in sustainable livelihoods, therefore the goal of COP 12 is to provide practical steps to make the rehabilitation of degrading land areas a reality”, UNCCD writes.

Local communities’ empowerment

COP 12 started on 12 October. The high-level segment, where ministers and other heads of delegation will hold round-table discussions and special plenary sessions to identify possible solutions to water scarcity, land degradation and desertification while upholding efforts to mitigate the effects of drought and preventing further land degradation, will take place on 20 and 21 October. During the event SEKEM will be promoted not only as a positive model for combating desertification: “We have also been honored for the social and cultural spheres that go hand in hand with Organic or Biodynamic agriculture”, Maximilian Abouleish-Boes says. “This is needed for peace building and giving people a perspective in their life’s. Indeed, it is a powerful way to prevent massive refugee movements to EU”, he continues. Hence, one discussion that SEKEM is attending will be about the importance of local communities’ empowerment. Besides, the Land for Life-session will deal with topics like “how sustainable land management could address food and human insecurity” or “how private sector investment could help to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN)”.

Land Degradation Neutrality is possible

COP 12 aims to strengthen and expand stakeholder engagement and encourage more involvement of the parliamentarians, civil society organizations and the private sector in identifying and developing solutions to land degradation. Through collaboration and policy implementation, achieving a land degradation neutral (LDN) world is within reach.

“Land rehabilitation is one of the pathways to sustainable development. By rehabilitating degraded land, many of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) would be more attainable,” the UNCCD writes. Therefore, SEKEM is committed since 38 years and sees the participation at COP 12 as “a great chance to present our vision”, Maximilian Abouleish-Boes reveals.


SEKEM wins Land for Life Award 2015
COP 12 Website
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
Workshop On Advancing Sustainable Agriculture
Read about Maximilian Abouleish's experiences at COP 12