China’s success in reforesting a major desert which was once a source of frequent sandstorms has provided ideas for other countries battling desertification, a top UN official said. UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Erik Solheim said the main inspiration was that instead of looking at desertification as a problem, it should be viewed as an opportunity for economic development and for jobs, reports Xinhua news agency. He was referring to Kubuqi Desert, the seventh largest desert in China that lies in Inner Mongolia. Over the past three decades, a quarter of the desert has been reforested.
A UNEP policy report says the core of the success at Kubuqi is its sustainable business model, the establishment of a system that incorporates policy instruments, investment from the private sector and active participation of locals. “We need the government to have visions, to regulate the market, but we need the private sector to bring innovative ideas and create jobs,” Solheim told Xinhua.
UNEP on Saturday signed a cooperation memorandum with a foundation under Elion Resources Group, the company active in Kubuqi greening, to share information and boost innovation in fighting desertification. Solheim said UNEP was also working with China to set up an International Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road to promote renewable energy, encourage greener infrastructure, industries and tourism.
The UNEP chief will again visit Kubuqi in September to attend a meeting of UN Convention to Combat Desertification, which is expected to draw a roadmap to end desert expansion by 2030.