The World Day to Combat Desertification has been observed since 1995 to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought. In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared (General Assembly Resolution A/RES/49/115) June 17 the “World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought” to promote public awareness of the issue, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.
Desertification is a type of land degradation in which a relatively dry land region becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife. Desertification is a significant global ecological and environmental problem. Why is it so important to pay attention to this topic? Because human activities influence desertification and drought leaving more people in poverty.
UNCCD in 2012 created a book “Desertification: a visual synthesis” which is intended as a basic information kit that tells “the story” of desertification, land degradation and drought at the global scale, together with a comprehensive set of graphics. In the book it is explained:
Desertification occurs because dryland ecosystems are extremely vulnerable to over-exploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and improper irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land. There is no linear process of cause and effect leading to land degradation in the drylands, but its drivers, which interact in complex ways, are known. Such drivers are climatic, especially low soil moisture, changing rainfall patterns and high evaporation. Most of them are human-related, and include poverty, technology, global and local market trends and socio-political dynamics. It is important to note that poverty is both a cause and consequence of land degradation.
Most of the planet’s 2 000 million dryland residents live in developing countries. The vast majority lives below poverty line and without adequate access to fresh water. Drylands take up 41.3 per cent of the Earth’s land surface and up to 44 per cent of all cultivated land is in the drylands. Drylands support 50 per cent of the world’s livestock, account for nearly half of all farmland, and are major wildlife habitats. Because of the difficult climate conditions, drylands have given rise to an incredible diversity of highly specialized species. This biodiversity is essential for maintaining the eco-balance and protecting human livelihoods, which depend on it. A relatively high number of endemic species occupy these areas, which include diverse habitats such as sandy land, forest and woodland, savanna and steppe, wetlands, ponds, lakes and rivers.
Sustainable Development Goal 15 of the 2030 Agenda aims to“protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”.
Read “Desertification: a visual synthesis” : http://www.unccd.int/Lists/SiteDocumentLibrary/Publications/Desertification-EN.pdf