World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
June 20 is World day to Combat Desertification and Drought Day. Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations. Desertification does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts. It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of the world‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land.
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels.
The purpose of this World Day is to promote public awareness of land degradation and to draw attention to the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). To maximize its impact, the UNCCD Secretariat invites all States, civil society organizations, international and non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to draw attention to land issues and educate the public about effective methods of achieving Land Degradation Neutrality through the publication and diffusion of documentaries and the organization of conferences, round-table meetings, seminars and expositions relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought.
Desertification is a global issue, with serious implications worldwide for biodiversity, eco-safety, poverty eradication, socio-economic stability and sustainable development. Drylands are already fragile. As they become degraded, the impact on people, livestock and environment can be devastating. Some 50 million people may be displaced within the next 10 years as a result of desertification.
The issue of desertification is not new though — it played a significant role in human history, contributing to the collapse of several large empires, and the displacement of local populations. But today, the pace of arable land degradation is estimated at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.