The UN desertification conference identified the climate crisis, water scarcity, and poor farming practices as a combination that could disrupt global food supplies. The Conference Chair Alain-Richard Donwahi predicts these disruptions could occur before the world reaches the 1.5°C temperature rise target.

The effects of drought, in particular, unfold faster than initially projected, according to Donwahi’s observations.

Temperature increases, marked by soaring heatwaves, extreme droughts, and devastating floods, are no longer abstract concepts confined to scientific models. They pose imminent and tangible threats causing a global food supply disruption. Donwahi underscores that these climatic shifts have far-reaching repercussions beyond mere temperature spikes, impacting essential factors such as food availability, population migration patterns, and inflation rates.

Underlying the concerns about the climate crisis, water scarcity, and global food insecurity is the pressing issue of poor agricultural practices that exacerbate the already perilous situation. As Donwahi points out, the continued use of unsustainable farming techniques contributes to soil degradation, ultimately leading to reduced agricultural yields. It compromises the capacity to feed a growing global population.

Donwahi calls upon the private sector to step in as a crucial partner in the fight against climate-induced food supply disruptions. Private sector investors can seize the opportunities presented by sustainable agricultural initiatives, such as improved yields and the implementation of agroforestry practices. By coupling profit motives with sustainable practices, Donwahi believes that the private sector can play a pivotal role in mitigating the impending crisis.

Donwahi, a former Ivory Coast defence minister who chaired last year’s UN Cop15 summit on desertification, believes that the private sector can play a pivotal role in mitigating the impending crisis by making a profit from sustainable practices.

The 1992 desertification treaty is a testament to the international commitment to combatting land degradation. This treaty, alongside other seminal agreements like the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (the parent treaty to the Paris Agreement) and the UN Convention on Biodiversity, forms a trinity of pledges aimed at preserving our planet’s fragile ecosystems.

However, the desertification treaty often dwells in the shadows of its more celebrated counterparts. The Cop15 summit on desertification, held last year, received considerably less attention compared to the high-profile Cop27 climate summit and the Cop15 biodiversity summit that took place within the same timeframe.

Desertification conferences are fewer and farther between than climate summits. The next desertification conference (COP) is slated for December 2024 in Riyadh, while the next climate summit (COP28) is scheduled for late November in Dubai.

The desertification conference chair pointed out that the imperative of addressing these challenges transcends geographical and economic divides. Food security is a shared concern that knows no boundaries, affecting both developed and developing nations. The ravages of climate-related phenomena such as droughts, storms, and floods are impartial, striking any nation regardless of its economic status.

Donwahi suggests that wealthier nations look to Africa for climate crisis solutions. Africa’s vast natural resources, ranging from essential minerals for renewable energy technology to extensive forests, abundant sunlight, and vast groundwater reserves, hold the potential for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening food security, and protecting biodiversity.

A win-win collaboration is possible when countries with financial resources partner with those endowed with natural resources. Such cooperation could pave the way for a symbiotic relationship that addresses not only immediate climate-related challenges but also broader issues of sustainability and global equity.