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2020 Desertification and Drought Day

Rice terrace

Desertification and Drought Day 2020 focused on changing public attitudes to the leading driver of desertification and land degradation: humanity’s relentless production and consumption.

As populations become larger, wealthier and more urban, there is far greater demand for land to provide food, animal feed and fibre for clothing. Meanwhile, the health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, worsened by climate change.

Food, feed and fibre must also compete with expanding cities and the fuel industry. The end result is that land is being converted and degraded at unstainable rates, damaging production, ecosystems and biodiversity.

“If we keep producing and consuming as usual, we will eat into the planet’s capacity to sustain life until there is nothing left but scraps. We all need to make better choices about what we eat and what we wear to help protect and restore the land.” 
— Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary

To have enough productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050, lifestyles need to change. Desertification and Drought Day, running under the slogan “Food. Feed. Fibre.” seeks to educate individuals on how to reduce their personal impact.

With changes in consumer and corporate behaviour, and the adoption of more efficient planning and sustainable practices, there could be enough land to meet the demand. If every consumer were to buy products that do not degrade the land, suppliers would cut back the flow of these products and send a powerful signal to producers and policymakers.

Changes in diet and behaviours – such as cutting food waste, buying from local markets and swapping clothes instead of always buying new – can free up land for other uses and lower carbon emissions. Dietary change alone can free up between 80 and 240 million hectares of land.

The 2020 global observance event, hosted by Korea Forest Service, took place online, with a full-day programme featuring a variety of exciting events and international talent.

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