UN Climate Change News — 17 June is the World Day to Combat Desertification (2019WDCD), which is being celebrated under the slogan, ‘Let’s Grow the Future Together’. The Day marks the 25 years of implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). It recognizes progress made by countries and people in sustainable land management and looks how to get to land degradation neutrality within the next 25 years.
Held in conjunction with the celebration is the International Soil Congress on the theme “Successful Transformation toward Land Degradation Neutrality: Future Perspective” (Ankara, Turkey, 17-19 June). The forum is an opportunity to analyse the current and future trends of soil and land resources, establish new policies based on the principles of land degradation neutrality and create a universal message for the sustainable use of soil and land resources.
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa joined the celebration sending a video message to the congress participants. “Achieving land degradation neutrality will help provide a solid base for several important issues, ranging from poverty reduction, food & water security and climate change mitigation and adaptation”, she said.
“It isn’t just about sand, it isn’t an isolated issue that will quietly disappear, and it isn’t someone else’s problem,” said UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw. He added:
“It’s about restoring and protecting the fragile layer of land which only covers a third of the Earth, but which can either alleviate or accelerate the double-edged crisis facing our biodiversity and our climate. That makes it the problem of anyone who wants to eat, drink or breathe.”
The UNCCD estimates that nearly 170 countries continue to be affected by desertification, land degradation or drought. The good news is that there is clear evidence of recovery and restoration of degraded landscapes through sustainable land management practices over the last 25 years.
For example, the UNCCD states that over five million hectares of degraded land in the Sahel region in Africa have been restored through a practice known as ‘farmer-managed natural regeneration’, producing additional half a million tons of grain each year. Re-introduction of Agroforestry increased trees on farms worldwide, most notably in Brazil, Indonesia, China, and India.
The Land in numbers 2019 report, published last week by the UNCCD, shows that sustainable land management has fuelled a land restoration economy in the United States, which generated around USD25 billion and 126,000 jobs in a single year.
There are similar success stories around the world, which you can learn about in this video from UNCCD:
In a video message to celebrate the day, António Guterres pointed out that each year the world loses 24 billion tons of fertile soil and that national domestic product in developing countries is reduced by up to 8% annually from land degradation. He also called for urgent changes to address the global climate emergency.
“Protecting and restoring land – and better using it – can reduce forced migration, improve food security and spur economic growth,’’ said Mr. Guterres. “It can also help us to address the global climate emergency. On this World Day, let us recognize the imperative of combating desertification as part of our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Read "Soil Restoration Is a Key Climate Solution", an Interview with UNCCD Chief Ibrahim Thiaw.