Sustainable Development – Knowledge Platform

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Desertification, land degradation and drought

Deserts are among the “fragile ecosystems” addressed by Agenda 21, and “combating desertification and drought” is the subject of Chapter 12. Desertification includes land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry subhumid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. Desertification affects as much as one-sixth of the world’s population, seventy percent of all drylands, and one-quarter of the total land area of the world. It results in widespread poverty as well as in the degradation of billion hectares of rangeland and cropland.In addition to addressing desertification and drought in Agenda 21, the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) also called upon the United Nations General Assembly to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INCD) to prepare, by June 1994, an international convention to combat desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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