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Bonn, Germany, 14 October 2013 – His Excellency Pedro Pires, former President of Cape Verde, has accepted his designation as UNCCD Drylands Ambassador. “Sustainable Land Management, particularly the fight against desertification, land degradation and drought are major priorities for Africa,” Pires said in his acceptance message, noting further that the mission of the UNCCD secretariat “is a source of hope for a large number of countries with regard to the support needed to put in place an effective and successful programme of action.” Mr Pires expresses specific interest in promoting sustainable land management, particularly in the context of the global post-2015 Development Agenda. The post-2015 Development Agenda is designed to bring together two separate processes: the development of Sustainable Development Goals, the outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio + 20; and the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals that were set for up to 2015. In June 2012 at Rio + 20, world leaders recognized the growing challenges of desertification, land degradation and drought, and agreed to strive towards a land-degradation neutral world, and to monitor, globally, land degradation and land restoration in the drylands. The UNCCD has a major stake in the post-2015 Development Agenda because of the large global population of the poor residing in the drylands and depends directly on the land. The Convention also has the unique mandate of addressing both the environment and development challenges stemming from poverty and inappropriate land use. In his last official function as UNCCD Executive Secretary, Mr. Luc Gnacadja, in reference to the designation said, “we are honored to have His Excellency serving as UNCCD Drylands Ambassador. He will be a powerful spokesperson on sustainable development and combatting desertification in the global efforts to mobilize the political will needed to turn the tide towards first-rate global land stewardship.” “One of the persistent challenges the UNCCD has encountered since its inception in 1994 is making a strong case about the value of the drylands and the benefits of sustainable land management. Our effort in this regard has been gradually recognized, but we need to further enhance our advocacy so that sustainable land management becomes a key pillar of the post-2015 development agenda,” he added. UNCCD Drylands Ambassadors are appointed to undertake specified functions, including advocacy, knowledge dissemination, awareness raising and increasing the visibility of the often poor and voiceless drylands populations. They are offered an initial two-year term that is renewable. Others who have served or are serving as UNCCD Drylands Ambassadors include Dr. Dennis Garrity, former Director-General of the World Agroforestry Center, economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs, renowned South African gospel singer Deborah Fraser and Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes of Angola. Mr Pires is an awardee of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, in recognition of making Cape Verde a model of democracy, stability and increased prosperity. About the UNCCD Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity, were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Established in 1994, UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment, development and the promotion of healthy soils. The Convention’s 195 signatory Parties work to alleviate poverty in the drylands, maintain and restore the land’s productivity, and mitigate the effects of drought.