Update: 3:30PM SUSTAINABLE land management is vital in tackling the triple challenges we face from climate change, loss of biodiversity and food insecurity.
Minister for Forests Osea Naiqamu made the comment while opening the one-day work shop on Action Against Desertification (AAD), a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), European Union-African Caribbean Pacific Project (EU-ACP) this morning.
Mr Naiqamu said resources should be better managed, and used to create jobs and generate income and to also invest in it for future generations to reap the same benefits we are reaping today.
He told forest stakeholders that the actions of the past, poor landuse practices, exploitation of our natural resources and the ever increasing populations, urban migration and so forth were the many factors that had led to land degradation and related challenges faced today.
"In October 2014, the European Union and FAO, in collaboration with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (also known as the ACP) launched this project to strengthen sustainable land management and restore drylands and degraded lands in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Desertification and land degradation, ladies and gentlemen, are very serious challenges in the world today, leading to poverty, hunger and all sorts of conflicts," said Mr Naiqamu.
"The implementation of this program is thus crucial in fighting hunger and poverty, fostering stability and building resilience to climate change in some of the world's most vulnerable areas, especially the small islands in the Pacific."
The AAD program aims to promote agro-forestry and income-generation activities, particularly in rural areas and for women and youth, and support the sustainable production, processing and marketing of agricultural products and forest goods and services.
The project will also address the major issues required to build the resilience of the forest landscapes in Fiji and improve the livelihoods of the local population, facilitate knowledge exchanges to allow farmers to learn about the causes of desertification and ways to prevent and combat it and also enhance capacities of government and non-governmental organisations to support these sustainable land and forest management efforts.
Fiji has ratified the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in 1998 and had further drafted a National Action Plan in 2006, which is currently being reviewed and to be finalised and submitted to Cabinet for endorsement by the end of the year.