Future Policy Award 2017: Desertification


Future Policy Award 2017: Evaluation process started!

We must not let our future dry out! This year we are celebrating the world’s best laws and policies to combat desertification, among the most pressing challenges of our time and one of the world’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Desertification and land degradation are among the greatest environmental challenges of our time and a threat to food security, livelihoods and health of hundreds of millions of people. Drylands cover over 30% of the Earth’s land and are extremely vulnerable to over-exploitation, inappropriate land use and climate variability.

Political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all contribute to desertification, which UNCCD describes as “a silent, invisible crisis that is destabilizing communities on a global scale.” Droughts kill more people than any other weather-related catastrophe and can amplify tensions within and between communities. It is estimated that 135 million people are at risk of being displaced by desertification, and drylands are the most conflict-prone regions of the world.

Climate change, and the increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather in arid lands, makes combating desertification even more vital. Restoring degraded land can help it to withstand the impacts of climate change, and has the potential to store up to 3 billion tonnes of carbon annually. Securing healthy and productive land is the key to allowing communities everywhere to not just survive but thrive.



Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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