Combatting desertification together (China Daily)

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Let’s combat desertification together

Desertification is not only one of the world’s greatest environmental challenges; it is also a major impediment to meeting basic human needs in dryland regions. It puts at risk the health and well-being of 1.2 billion people in more than 100 countries.

Many of the world’s poorest people are also those most directly affected by desertification. Two-thirds of the poor live in drylands, about half in farm households where environmental degradation threatens the agricultural production on which their livelihoods depend.

The causes of desertification are varied and complex. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, adopted 13 years ago today, aims to promote concrete action through innovative local, national, sub-regional and regional programs and supportive international partnerships.

However, degradation of the global environment continues at an alarming pace, with serious social and economic implications. Effective implementation of the Convention, which integrates environmental and developmental concerns, is becoming ever more urgent.

The theme of this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, “Desertification and Climate Change – One Global Challenge”, reminds us that climate change and desertification interact with each other at a variety of levels. They are two major manifestations of the same problem. And together they seriously threaten our ability to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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