Stopping Land Degradation (UNCCD)

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​Securing Healthy Soils and Stopping Land Degradation:

Outcomes for Rio+20

World Day to Combat Desertification Global Observance Event
Rio Conventions Pavilion, Athletes Park
10:30-19:00, Sunday, 17 June 2012
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The demand for life’s essentials will rise significantly in the next 20 years. About 50% more food will be needed, 40% more energy and 35% more water. How will these demands to be met and with what resources? Past trends show that land, the foundation of these goods and services, is not only getting destroyed, but is outside the radar screen of policy-makers because there is no political will to get something done?


How serious is the problem? By 1992, estimates showed that only 3% of the Earth was fertile land But every year, 75 billion tons of fertile soil is getting lost for good, slowly eating away at the six-inches or so of topsoil that stands between humanity and extinction. Every year, 12 million hectares of productive land that could produce 20 million tons of grain is lost to land degradation and drought alone.

Without healthy soils and productive land, there is no sustainable development. There is no green economy and no secure future for most. Creating the ‘Future We Want’ starts with the commitments to preserve non-degraded land and soil and to balance out the degrading land with the recovery of an equal amount of degraded land. It is the commitment to become land-degradation neutral.



Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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