World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

Desertification is the process by which fertile land becomes desert, typically as a result of drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture. It is a critical global ecological and environmental problem with far reaching consequences on socio-economic and political conditions. In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 17 the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought to promote public awareness on the issue. Dry land ecosystems cover over one third of the world’s land area. These ecosystems are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices are few of the causes that affect the productivity of the land. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has noted that desertification, land degradation and drought affect hundreds of millions of people in over 100 countries in all continents, and the number is rising.

Most of us live in such plenty, that the dangers of degraded lands on agriculture, nutrition and the quality of ecosystems close to human settlements is difficult for us to comprehend. Our requirements from land are huge currently and they are expected to keep on growing. Forest fires, heat waves, massive migration, sudden floods, rising sea levels, and food and water insecurity are more evident every day which are the leading impacts of land desertification.

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. 2020 Desertification and Drought Day will focus on links between consumption and land. As populations become larger, wealthier and more urban, the demand for land to provide food, animal feed and fibre for clothing increases exponentially. At the same time, Health and productivity of existing land is declining, due to climate change.  According to UN, arable land is shrinking every day by 23 hectares per minute and pushes millions of people deeper into poverty. As a result, a vicious circle develops: people who depend on land for making a living have to use increasingly intensive farming techniques which cause further land degradation.

In order to have enough fertile and productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050, our lifestyles need to change. Desertification and Drought Day, running under the slogan “Food-Feed-Fibre” seeks to educate individuals on how to reduce their personal impact. If consumers and corporates change their approach, and adopt more efficient planning and sustainable practices, there could be enough land to meet our demand. If every consumer insist on buying products that do not degrade the land, suppliers would have to cut back the flow of such products which would send a powerful signal to producers and policymakers.

Individual actions that each of us can take to combat the causes of desertification include planting trees and organizing cleanups, reject using unsustainably produced energy and attempt to use more renewable. Combating desertification requires fundamental changes in our food and economy systems, but key to making a change is raising environmental awareness.

Let us all start this battle today. Let us all contribute towards an assurance of a secure world. What do you envisage in a world where land degradation neutrality provides a solid basis for poverty reduction, food, water security as well as climate change mitigation?

Sources and credits:

·         UNCCD official website

·         United Nations official website

·         UNESCO’s IHP and MAB programs

·         Wikipedia the free encyclopaedia

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