Combating desertification

Photo credit: DW

Holding back the growing desert

Fertile soil is disappearing, swathes of land are being eroded away. Through its convention on combating desertification the UN is attempting to stop the desert growing and take back the land.

Deserts are expanding – every year they grow by an area around the size of Ireland. But it’s not a natural process; it’s manmade. Overgrazing, increasing agriculture, deforestation and a growing use of water are eroding the land. And it is particularly affecting parts of Africa, America or Asia.

Preventing the destruction of the soil

An important step was made during the 1992 United Nations (UN) Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro – the decision to fight desertification.

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has been in place since 1996 and has been signed by 194 countries. Its aim: “promote processes and activities relating to combating desertification and/or mitigating the effects of drought…” (Article 2, UNCCD)

It was not only countries affected by desertification that signed the agreement, but also those that are not, like Germany. And it is there where the responsible UN-secretariat has its base for combating desertification, at the UN Campus in Bonn.

It was here that the UN’s Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC), the body responsible for making sure the conditions of the convention are adhered to, met in March. The members regularly meet to examine the status of the 10-year strategy. Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference COP21, due to take place in Paris later this year, they also made recommendation on how the convention can be effectively implemented.

Read the full article: DW


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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