World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, 17 June
Rising up from drought together
Droughts are among the greatest threats to sustainable development, especially in developing countries, but increasingly so in developed nations too. In fact, forecasts estimate that by 2050 droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population.
The number and duration of droughts has increased by 29 percent since 2000, as compared to the two previous decades (WMO 2021). When more than 2.3 billion people already face water stress, this is a huge problem. More and more of us will be living in areas with extreme water shortages, including an estimated one in four children by 2040 (UNICEF). No country is immune to drought (UN-Water 2021).
This year, the theme of the International Day Against Desertification, and Drought “Rising up from drought together”, emphasises the need of an early action to avoid disastrous consequences for humanity and the planetary ecosystems.
What is Desertification & Drought Day?
Desertification and Drought Day was officially declared by the UN General Assembly as “World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought” (The resolution A/RES/49/115). The objectives of Desertification and Drought Day 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.
Why do we observe Desertification & Drought Day?
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 direct affect on their daily lives, and that everyone’s daily actions can either contribute to, or help fight DLDD.
Who celebrates Desertification & Drought Day?
Anyone whose life depends on the land needs to care about it, and how land is treated by humans. That includes each and everyone, because:
- 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.
- The problem is man-made, which means humans are also part of the solution. What do we want people to know about desertification and drought?
- 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.
- A decade of land degradation may create irreversible damage, but a decade of land restoration may bring multiple benefits
The UNCCD is therefore calling on all members of the global community to treat the land as a limited and precious natural capital, prioritize its health in the pandemic recovery and push hard to restore the land during the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Everyone has a role to play because everyone has a stake in the future.
Do you know where Droughtland is? Are you interested in a visa to live there? Think twice because Droughtland is… special. Learn more about this great and impressive new campaign of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification that will be launched for the International Day.