Desertification manifests itself in many different forms across the vast region of Asia. Out of a total land area of 4.3 billion hectares, Asia contains some 1.7 billion hectares of arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid land, reaching from the Mediterranean coast to the shores of the Pacific. Land degradation varies across the region. There are expanding deserts in China, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan, encroaching sand dunes in Syria, steeply eroded mountain slopes of Nepal, and deforested and overgrazed highlands in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. In terms of the number of people affected by desertification and drought, Asia is the most severely affected continent.
Asia: Regional cooperation
The Convention’s Regional Implementation Annex for Asia recognizes these unique conditions, and calls for activities at the national, sub-regional, and regional level in the form of coordinated and integrated action programmes.
National Action Programmes (NAPs) have been prepared in several Asian and Pacific countries. The preparation of NAPs is a dynamic continuous process and the status of each country is subject to change over time. The Convention’s bottom-up approach, whereby existing desertification programmes are reviewed by stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local authorities, and community leaders, was also generally adopted during the formulation of national action plans. Mainstreaming the NAPs into other sustainable development policy frameworks is important to ensure their effective implementation. Currently, many NAPs are in the process of being aligned to the 10-year Strategy of the UNCCD.
The implementation of the NAPs is supported by regional cooperation, including promotion of collaboration and capacity-building at national and sub-regional levels. The Asian regional priorities are captured in a Regional Action Programme (RAP), which was adopted at ministerial level in 1997. The regional priorities are formulated to six thematic programme networks (TPNs) that seek to link institutions and agencies together via an institutional focal point in order to promote cooperation and information sharing. The TPNs focus on the following themes:
- Desertification monitoring and assessment
- Agroforestry and soil conservation
- Rangeland management and fixation of shifting sand dunes
- Water resources management for arid-land agriculture
- Strengthening capacities for drought impact mitigation and combating desertification
- Assistance for the implementation of integrated local area development programmes (LADPs).
The countries of the Asian region have also formulated two sub-regional action programmes, one for West Asia and another one for Central Asia.