Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations. Desertification does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts. It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of the world‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land.
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels.
2019 Theme “Let’s Grow the Future Together”
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Convention and the World Day to Combat Desertification in 2019 (#2019WDCD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) celebrates the 25 years of progress made by countries on sustainable land management. At the same time, the UNCCD looks at the broad picture of the next 25 years where we will achieve land degradation neutrality.
What do we envisage in a world where land degradation neutrality provides a solid basis for poverty reduction, food, water security as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation?
The anniversary campaign runs under the slogan “Let’s grow the future together” supported by the global observance of WDCD and the 25th anniversary of the Convention on 17 June 2019 in Ankara, hosted by the government of Turkey.
- Land & Drought — “By 2025, 1.8 billion people will experience absolute water scarcity, and 2/3 of the world will be living under water-stressed conditions.”
A complex and slowly encroaching natural hazard with significant and pervasive socio-economic and environmental impacts that to cause more deaths and displace more people than any other natural disaster.
- Land & Human Security — “By 2045 some 135 million people may be displaced as a result of desertification.”
Achieving land degradation neutrality -by rehabilitating already degraded land, scaling up sustainable land management and accelerating restoration initiatives- is a pathway to greater resilience and security for all.
- Land & Climate — “Restoring the soils of degraded ecosystems has the potential to store up to 3 billion tons of carbon annually.”
The land use sector represents almost 25% of total global emissions. Its rehabilitation and sustainable management is critical to combating climate change.
Desertification and the Sustainable Development Goals
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares that “we are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations”. Specifically, Goal 15states our resolve to halt and reverse land degradation.
Why do we mark International Days?
International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. More information available here.