United Nations: World Day to Combat #Desertification and #Drought, June 17, 2020

An extra 593 million hectares of agricultural land, an area nearly twice the size of India, will be required by 2050 over 2010 levels. Photo: Avijit Ghosh – Future Without Green (India)/ UNCDD Photo contest 2018.

From the United Nations (António Guterres):

When the soil asks for help

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.

Even more specially these times, considering the COVID-19 situation. Actions based on the clear understanding of rights, rewards and responsibilities of land management can help address the COVID-19 fallout by tackling one of the primary environmental drivers of emerging infectious disease outbreaks. At the same time, strengthening the resilience of our food and water systems, can help reduce the effects of the pandemic on global poverty and food insecurity. Today, the motto “healthy land = healthy people” promoted by the Convention to Combat Desertification, is more true than ever.

2020 Theme: Food. Feed.Fibre. – the links between consumption and land

This year’s observance is focused on changing public attitudes to the leading driver of desertification and land degradation: humanity’s relentless production and consumption.

As populations become larger, wealthier and more urban, there is far greater demand for land to provide food, animal feed and fibre for clothing. Meanwhile, the health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, worsened by climate change.

To have enough productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050, lifestyles need to change. World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, under the slogan “Food. Feed. Fibre.” seeks to educate individuals on how to reduce their personal impact.

Food, feed and fibre must also compete with expanding cities and the fuel industry. The end result is that land is being converted and degraded at unsustainable rates, damaging production, ecosystems and biodiversity.

Food, feed, and fibre is also contributing to climate change, with around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture, forestry and other land use. Clothing and footwear production causes 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, a figure predicted to rise almost 50 per cent by 2030.

With changes in consumer and corporate behaviour, and the adoption of more efficient planning and sustainable practices, there could be enough land to meet the demand. If every consumer were to buy products that do not degrade the land, suppliers would cut back the flow of these products and send a powerful signal to producers and policymakers.

In order to celebrate this observance and create awareness of this day, the UNCCD has prepared several activities: an on line event, a Youtube short film series related to the theme and the Contest Become #UNCCDLandHeroes, where young candidates propose a specific solution to limit the footprint that our production and consumption of food, feed and fibre leave on the land. The winner will be announced on 17 June.

Leave a Reply