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UN: China among 'Most Successful' Countries in Desert Control

China is one of the most successful countries worldwide in greening the desert and has lessons to share with the world on curbing desertification, a senior United Nations official said.

UN Deputy Secretary General and the body's environmental agency UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim said the main inspiration from China is not to see desertification as a problem, but an opportunity for job growth and poverty alleviation.

He made the remarks in an interview with Xinhua while attending the 13th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP13) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

"What I really hope to see at this conference is China sharing its experience with the world," he said.

Solheim made reference to the Kubuqi Desert, China's seventh largest desert, which is located in the region. Covering an area of 18,600 square kilometers, it was once the source of frequent sandstorms hitting Beijing. Over the past three decades, one third of the desert has been greened and 102,000 people have been lifted out of poverty.

"In Kubuqi, they have provided jobs in solar energy, eco-tourism, and planting medicinal herbs. That's exactly what we need to do, to green the desert and get people out of poverty," he said.

A UNEP policy report said the core of the success in Kubuqi is its sustainable business model and the establishment of a system that incorporates policy instruments, investment from the private sector and active participation of locals.

Solheim said there are many positive examples from Xinjiang, Shaanxi, Gansu and other provincial-level regions

Countries along the Belt and Road launched a mechanism for cooperation to fight desertification on Sunday. Solheim said the Belt and Road Initiative is a way for China to share its desert greening experience with the world.

He said countries like Iran and others in central Asia and Africa can benefit from Chinese technology and know-how through cooperation.

About 1,400 delegates from 196 countries and regions and more than 20 international organizations attended the biennial conference. The main task of the session was to seek solutions for the UN sustainable goal of "achieving a land degradation neutral world by 2030" and to develop a new UNCCD strategy framework for the 2018-2030 period.

(Xinhua News Agency September 12, 2017)
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