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UNDP/Ministry of Environment Seminar Highlights Land Degradation and Desertification Challenges in Belarus

On 16-17 June 2014 UNDP/GEF projects in collaboration with the Belarusian Ministry of Environment held a 2-day seminar in the Biaroza District, Brest region of Belarus. The event was titled “Improving Legal Regulation to Combat Land Degradation and Desertification” and focused on to create a greater understanding of the importance of combating land degradation and desertification in Belarus. The seminar was organized under the banner of the World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD), celebrated worldwide on 17 June. This year’s WDCD observance is under the theme: “Ecosystem-based adaptation” with the slogan “Land belongs to the future, let’s climate proof it!”

During the last couple of years the issue of land degradation and desertification became a matter of great ecological concern in Belarus due to the intensified human impact on soils, coupled with climate change and liabilities of land management mechanisms in the country.

Through presentations and following discussions panelists exposed current challenges and risks Belarus is facing with respect to desertification. The participants stressed the necessity to develop and test sustainable approaches and innovative mechanisms to address land degradation challenges and combat desertification encouraging participation and joint action of all interested parties.

The seminar also highlighted different approaches to improve legal regulation to combat land degradation and prevent desertification, as well as presented opinions on how to introduce them into existing land management polices both on national and regional levels.

Special attention was paid to international cooperation. Currently a number of international projects aimed at addressing desertification and land degradation issues has been implementing in Belarus. In 2014 UNDP with financial support from the Belarusian Ministry of Environment and the Global Environment Facility launched a new 2-year long initiative titled “Support National Action Plan Alignment and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Reporting in the Republic of Belarus”. The project aims to integrate Belarus’ obligations under United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) into its national development and sectoral planning frameworks and align its National action Plan in a manner that is in line with UNCCD 10-Year Strategy and UNCCD reporting and review process.

Apart from the plenary presentations and discussions the participants, together with local schoolchildren, took part in an action dedicated to the WDCD 2014 where they sowed grass seeds on around 1.5 ha of degraded peatlands, formerly managed for intensive agriculture. The action aimed to demonstrate an innovative approach towards sustainable management of degraded peatlands in agriculture in Belarus.

The seminar participants included about 30 government officials, parliamentarians of the Upper Chamber of the Parliament, the Permanent Commission for Ecology, Nature Management, and Chernobyl Disaster, representatives of the Biaroza Regional Executive Committee, experts from research institutes, representatives of national mass media.

The event was held in the framework of international technical assistance project “Support National Action Plan Alignment and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Reporting in the Republic of Belarus” with the support of UNDP/GEF project “Peatlands-2”, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus, “Sporauski” Nature Reserve Administration.

For additional information, please, address Alexei Tchistodarski, UNDP/GEF project Communication Specialist, mobile +375 (29) 656 1530, e-mail:

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