United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
- Established in 1994, the United Nations to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.
- The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
The new framework :
- The new UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in order to restore the productivity of vast expanses of degraded land, improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people, and reduce the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations to build
- A future that avoids, minimizes, and reverses desertification, land degradation and mitigates the effects of drought in affected areas at all levels to achieve a land degradation-neutral world consistent with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
More about the UNCCD :
- The Convention’s 196 parties work together to improve the living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought.
- The UNCCD is particularly committed to a bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation.
- The UNCCD secretariat facilitates cooperation between developed and developing countries, particularly around knowledge and technology transfer for sustainable land management.
- The UNCCD collaborates closely with the other two Rio Conventions; the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
What is desertification ?
- Desertification is not the natural expansion of existing deserts but the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas.
- It is a gradual process of soil productivity loss and the thinning out of the vegetative cover because of human activities and climatic variations such as prolonged droughts and floods.
- What is alarming is that though the land's topsoil, if mistreated, can be blown and washed away in a few seasons, it takes centuries to build up.
- Among human causal factors are overcultivation, overgrazing, deforestation, and poor irrigation practices. Such overexploitation is generally caused by economic and social pressure, ignorance, war, and drought.
Global nature of the problem :
Desertification is a worldwide problem directly affecting 250 million people and a third of the earth's land surface or over 4 billion hectares.
In addition, the livelihoods of some one billion people who depend on land for most of their needs and usually the world's poorest in over one hundred countries are threatened.
Though desertification affects Africa the most, where two-thirds of the continent is desert or drylands, it is not a problem confined to drylands in Africa.
Worldwide, some 70 percent of the 5.2 billion hectares drylands used for agriculture are already degraded and threatened by desertification.
Need to combat desertification :
Desertification is at the root of political and socio-economic problems and poses a threat to the environmental equilibrium in affected regions.
The land's loss of productivity exacerbates poverty in the drylands, forcing its farmers to seek a way of living in more fertile lands or cities.
Some 60 million people are expected to eventually move from the desertified areas in Sub-Saharan Africa towards northern Africa and Europe in the next 20 years.
Every year, between 700,000 and 900,000 Mexicans leave their rural dryland homes to find a living as migrant workers in the United States.
Half of the 50 armed conflicts in 1994 had environmental causal factors characteristic of the drylands.
Natural consequences of desertification :
It makes land areas flood-prone, causes soil salinisation, results in the deterioration of the quality of water, silting of rivers, streams and reservoirs.
Unsustainable irrigation practices can dry the rivers that feed large lakes; the Aral Sea and Lake Chad have both seen their shorelines shrink dr