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Deserts keep growing around the world, but the process can be reversed if governments act in time (AFP/File, Peter Parks)
World can beat desertification: UN chief
UNITED NATIONS — Deserts keep growing around the world, but the process can be reversed if governments act in time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, Ban sounded the alarm, saying that 40 percent of the world’s land — home to about two billion people — is arid or semi-arid.
“Let us resolve today to reverse this trend,” Ban said. “Contrary to common perception, not all dry lands are unproductive,” he added. “Timely action on our part can unlock these riches and provide a solution.”
Desertification is a relentless danger. More than 12 million hectares (29.6 million acres) are lost each year, which over a decade adds up to an area equivalent in size to the whole of South Africa, according to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Sometimes that means sands blowing out from the Sahara or similar deserts. But in many cases desertification simply means the drying up of land to the point where it is no longer agriculturally productive.
However, Ban said the battle is far from hopeless.