European Wilderness Society

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 

Desertification and Drought Day was officially declared by the UN General Assembly as “World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought”. It is celebrated on 17th of June and its main objectives are: To promote public awareness of the issue, to let people know that desertification and drought can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and cooperation at all levels. To strengthen implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa. 

How does desertification affect you?  

No matter where you live, the consequences of desertification and drought concern you. Globally, 23 per cent of the land is no longer productive. 75 per cent has been transformed from its natural state, mostly for agriculture. This transformation in land use is happening at a faster rate than at any other time in human history and has accelerated over the last 50 years. Scientists say the evolution from one state to the next is so rapid, the process is only observable over very short periods. Everyone needs to know that desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) have a direct effect on their daily lives

Beyond that, desertification and drought are drivers of forced migration. Each year, tens of millions of people are at risk of displacement due to these environmental challenges

Dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of the world ‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. 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 and affects the world’s poorest. The decisions we make every day on what to buy, eat, drink, wear and how to travel – all have an impact on land resources

Importance of the land 

Caring for land is an intergenerational responsibility. For millennia, our ancestors had a deep connection to the land. However, this connection is fragile, with more and more people heading to cities and no longer choosing to live and work on land. We need to create employment opportunities for young people, especially in rural areas

When talking about the significance of the land, it’s important to remember that 99 per cent of the calories every human being needs for a healthy life still come from the land.  

Land that is healthy and resilient is the first point of defense against disasters such as droughts and flashfloods, which are becoming more frequent, long and severe.  

The loss of more and more productive land is creating growing competition for land to meet the growing demand for goods and services and for ecosystem services that support life. The next few decades will be the most critical in restoring land for sustainable future. 

Sustainable land management is everyone’s business. Together, we can restore the productivity of over 2 billion hectares of degraded land and improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people around the world.  

Land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss are intimately connected, and are increasingly affecting human well-being. Tackling these issues together is key to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable land management benefits both nature and economic growth. Every USD invested in land restoration can yield up to 30 USD in return. In many countries affected by desertification, land degradation and drought, agriculture represents a high share of economic revenue

What can we do 

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the global voice for land. Under the auspices of UNCCD, over 130 countries have pledged to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) by 2030: a world where human activity has a neutral, or even positive, impact on the land. This vision requires the mobilization of all parts of society to end land loss and promote land restoration as a key driver for sustainable development and intergenerational equity

The European Wilderness Society is a partner in the HORIZON project ALFAwetlands, which aims to restore wetlands by rewetting them. Wetlands restoration is important for the environment, as they have impact on climate change mitigation, biodiversity and other benefits.  

Land restoration is one of the most important issues for our planet. Dried lands need to be restored, make them usable again. 

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