06/03/2013 - “Don’t let our future dry up” is the clarion call to action from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in the lead up to the World Day to Combat Desertification, which will be observed worldwide on 17 June 2013.
“Fresh water is becoming less and less available or affordable. Tragically, this is largely due to our own behavior as humans. And as we get more urbanized and farming gets more mechanized, we are losing sight of and interest in the deteriorating health of the land and its soil – a crucial factor that determines the quality and quantity of our ground water,” said Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary.
Gnacadja made the remarks as the UNCCD unveiled the call, theme and resources for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification campaign. 17 June was designated by the UN as the day to raise awareness on desertification and drought mitigation.
“We are losing 75 billion tons of fertile soil every year, degrading 12 million hectares of land through desertification and drought alone and, by our inaction to curb climate change, we are becoming prone to more frequent, more widespread and more intense droughts,” Mr. Gnacadja warned.
“Drought and desertification are bedfellows that undermine water security, so we are walking a dangerous path and we must change course urgently. But land degradation and poverty also tend to be bedfellows,” he said.
“Drought is predictable and therefore should not cause famine and claim lives. We can prevent land degradation and restore already degraded land. With political will, we can manage these challenges because the opportunities exist to take action at all levels. We must seize the opportunity presented by the High Level Meeting on National Drought Policy taking place in Geneva, next week, to act collectively on drought preparedness, risk management and building resilience.”
“We must also advance towards becoming a land-degradation neutral world, as agreed by world leaders last year at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, popularly known as the Rio+20 Summit, by agreeing now on a goal and target date of reaching land-degradation neutrality. So the pursuit of land-degradation neutrality should be at the heart of the post-2015 development framework, if we are to eradicate poverty and achieve environmental sustainability,” Gnacadja added.
A land-degradation neutral world is one where land degradation is avoided, and degraded land is restored, preferably within the same landscape, eco-system and in the same period.
This year’s theme, “water scarcity and drought” bring global attention to the most cost-effective and efficient means to secure water and manage drought.
This global observance will be held in conjunction with the observance of two decades: the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification (UNDDD) and the UN Decade for Biodiversity, which will take place from 17-19 June.
These campaigns kick-off with an event to be held next week at the High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policy taking place in Geneva, Switzerland.
For more information on the two events contact:
Awareness Raising, Education and Communication Unit
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
P.O.Box 260129, 53153 Bonn, Germany