Alain Richard Donwahi, Ivory Coast’s former minister of water and forests, has been elected as the president of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) conference. The news was announced yesterday.
Donwahi was elected by the representatives of the COP15 countries by acclamation with no opposition.
The COP15 conference, which is taking place in the capital city of Abidjan this week (9 to 12 May), is focused on the restoration of one billion hectares of degraded land between now and 2030, future-proofing land use against the impacts of climate change, and tackling escalating disaster risks such as droughts, sand and dust storms, and wildfires.
“I am very honoured to have been elected president of the COP15. The fight against desertification is difficult but crucial. What a challenge,” Donhawi said during his acceptance speech.
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara approved of the decision, and believes that Donhawi is familiar with the themes of the convention.
Donhawi was in charge of Ivory Coast’s water and forests portfolio up until April this year. He was one of the few ministers who made the decision to exit government during a reshuffle.
An inquiry by Jeune Afrique, a French-language Pan-African news publication, at the end of April, found that the ministry of water and forests had been audited by the State General Inspection since the end of February.
Meanwhile, president Ouattara announces plan to save land from degradation
The Abidjan Initiative, a five-year initiative to tackle land degradation and deforestation in the West African nation, will get US$2.3 billion in funding, according to Ouattara.
During his opening remarks at COP15, Ouattara announced the programme’s beginning. Representatives from 197 nations are in attendance, including Namibian President Hage Geingob and other heads of state.
Drought and desertification have harmed 60% of Côte d’Ivoire’s land, he claimed, with 90% of the country’s land being affected at the Mali-Burkina Faso border, according to the president. Agriculture is not the only sector affected.
“These scourges also constitute a threat to our energy and health security, and, in the long term, to peace,” Ouattara said. “Indeed, desertification and drought are sources of migration and inter-community conflicts, due to the competition around the constantly decreasing natural resources.”