The ongoing dramatic shift from rural towards urban life has considerably affected global land resources and food security. Every year, 19.5 million hectares of agricultural land are converted to accommodate expanding urban centres and industrial developments. With the most rapid rates of urban expansion, Africa and Asia are projected to experience 80 per cent of the global cropland loss due to urban expansion. Today, 88 per cent of the extreme poor live in rural areas, where poverty rates are four times higher than in urban areas and the deficit of decent work is severe. Rural outmigration, climate and environmental change, rising inequality and insecurity in rural areas has led to unplanned urban growth and an increasing number of people living in slums and informal settlements. About 58 per cent of forcibly displaced end up in cities, and migration from rural to urban areas often leads to a large proportion of new migrants living in informal settlements.
Rapid urbanization is linked to several primary drivers of land degradation such as unsustainable resource consumption, decreasing green cover and ground water levels, migration and poverty. At the same time, local and regional governments are emerging as key actors in combating land degradation and restoring affected land areas. Across the globe, various urban development policies and programmes focusing on integrated land use planning, increasing green cover and resource efficiency in urban services are implemented with strong links to combating land degradation.
The Local and Regional Governments Day at UNCCD COP14 on 7 September will provide a platform for key stakeholders to interact with global peers, present good practices by local and regional governments and highlight policy measures necessary to enable local action. The event is co-organized by UNCCD in partnership with the ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability to support the discussions during the High Level Segment “Rural and urban communities: failing or flourishing together."