To mark World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD), 2014, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification held an observance event in the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany.
The opening remarks by Dr. Mohamadou-Mansour N’Diaye, the Chief de Cabinet of the UNCCD Secretariat, highlighted the importance of efforts to protect land from the effects of climate change. In line with the theme of the WDCD 2014, Dr. N’Diaye drew the attention of participants at the event towards land-based climate change adaptation techniques. He proposed four simple steps. 1) To avoid new land degradation; 2) to act together to make land a part of the global climate change agenda; 3) to set common measures of success to motivate us and; 4) to set up mechanisms to help the most vulnerable populations withstand the effects of climate change.
“As climate change brings more extreme weather, recurrent droughts, water shortages and food insecurity; community-based adaptation and national mitigation policy will be more important than ever,” said Mr N’Diaye, focusing on the local and community based initiatives.
Mr. Stefan Schmitz, Head of Unit, Rural Development Agriculture and Food Security, Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany then drew the correlation between development and food security. He said “the goal of a world free from land degradation is innately intertwined with the goal of a world free from hunger”.
As a celebration of the land, the UNCCD also launched an exhibition of artwork at the UN building. The exhibition, inspired by the myriad colors of the soil is entitled ‘Colours of the Earth’.
After the launch of the exhibition, Dr. Michael Veerhoff, a geologist explained the reasons for the various hues. Revealing that iron and iron compounds are responsible for giving different shades of colors to the soil, he explained how the color of the soil could be an indicator of the conditions of the soil, including moisture content, oxygen conditions etc.
The artist, Ms. Verena Reinmann, a former teacher and guide at the Museum of Natural History, spent years collecting soil samples from hundreds of countries. Inspired by the unique characteristics and beauty of the different types of soil, Ms. Reinmann decided to use soil in her art. In a work of astounding creativity, Ms. Reinmann created a piece using soil from 123 member countries of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Her work will be on display at the UN Campus from 17 June to 31 July, 2014.