World Day to Combat Desertification
World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCD) was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations for the first time in 1994. It was created to involve the public with the drought problem. Through the collaboration of all countries, particularly those in Africa, it also aims to promote best practices that can help reduce the magnitude of the serious problem of desertification. In the same year, the United Nations Conventionto Combat Desertification was implemented in countries experiencing serious drought and every year since then, the countries involved, along with international organizations and NGO’s organize numerous events and activities around the world that promote the World Day to Combat Desertification.
The World Day to Combat Desertification has been observed since 1995 to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of droughts. In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 17 the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought to promote public awareness on the issue, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.
Ever since, country Parties to the Convention, organizations of the United Nations System, international and non-governmental organizations and other interested stakeholders have celebrated this particular day with a series of outreach activities worldwide. The World Day to Combat Desertification is a unique occasion to remind everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and co-operation at all levels. UNCCD is encouraging country parties and civil organizations to organize events to celebrate / observe the WDCD as an additional opportunity to increase awareness raising and participation in the process.
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought highlights the problems faced by millions of people who live in dryland regions. Desertification has been called the greatest environmental challenge of our times. It is not the advance of deserts, though it can include the encroachment of sand dunes on land. Rather, it is persistent land degradation. Desertification is not always inevitable. Human factors, such as overgrazing and clear-cutting land, can be controlled by improving agricultural and grazing practices. Other factors, such as rising temperatures, can be predicted and dealt with proactively.
Dryland ecosystems are very vulnerable to over-exploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and poor irrigation practices can all contribute to desertification. Sub-Saharan Africa, where 66 per cent of the land is either desert or dryland, is particularly at risk. Around 1.2 billion people in more than 110 countries are threatened by this problem.
The issue of desertification may seem not important for people, who live far away from deserts and regions suffering from droughts. But the effects are seen worldwide. Dry land countries are extremely vulnerable to the adverse consequences of climate variability and change, which can have a devastating environmental impact on soil, water and biodiversity. By 2020 about 60 million people will migrate from area of Sub-Saharan Africa to Northern Africa and Europe. This can destabilize entire regions and make them one of the most insecure places in the world. Over the past three decades, it is estimated that droughts in different regions have affected more than 1.3 billion people and caused damages of over $53 billion.
The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Secretariat has announced that the theme for 2015 will be “Attainment of food security for all through sustainable food systems” which will be used in combination with the slogan “No such thing as a free lunch. Invest in healthy soils”
The UN combats desertification and drought by raising public and governmental awareness of this issue. Every year member states of the UN organize conferences, seminars, exhibitions and other events related to international cooperation in droughts combating. Desertification is the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems. It threatens the livelihoods of some of the poorest and most vulnerable populations on the planet. Desertification is largely caused by unsustainable use of scarce resources.