"Desertificaton and Climate Change - One Global Challenge"
The World Day to Combat Desertification is celebrated every year on June 17 all over the world in order to highlight the urgent need to curb the process of desertification and to strengthen the visibility of this serious drylands issue on the international environmental agenda.
Another environmental issue of growing urgency today is climate change. This is reflected in the theme for this year's World Day, which focuses on the important synergy between desertification and climate change. The Day will draw attention to the significant benefits of an integrated approach to tackling these two major environmental challenges.
The theme for June 17 this year is "Desertification and Climate Change - One Global Challenge". It highlights not only the significant synergy between the two environmental issues, but also their common objective of sustainable development.
Desertification is a process of land degradation, partly due to human-induced factors. Activities such as over-cultivation, over-grazing, deforestation and poor irrigation practices are turning once-fertile soils into barren patches of land. It has enormous economic and social costs and can lead to poverty, forced migration and conflict.
Another major contributing factor, however, is climate change. Extreme climatic events such as floods and droughts are becoming more frequent and more drastic in their effects. Severe drought is compounding the existing problem of desertification in the drylands. Two thirds of the world’s poor live in these areas and it is they who are suffering most from the double blow of desertification and climate change as they struggle to eke out a living from the land.
Desertification also contributes to climate change, with land degradation and related loss of vegetation resulting in increased emissions and reduced carbon sink. Therefore, restoration of dryland conditions could have a major impact on global climate patterns.
Desertification and climate change are interlinked in multiple ways. They represent two faces of the same global environmental challenge facing us in the 21st century. A synergistic approach is therefore the most effective way to tackle them. It will bring greater benefits both to our environment and to those whose livelihood depends on it. This is the important message that the World Day celebration aims to reinforce.