Desertification ‘More Dangerous and More Insidious than Wars’

By Desmond Brown
Grenada has been spearheading the fight against desertification at local, regional and global levels. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

ANKARA, Jun 18 2019 (IPS) – Businesses are being encouraged to follow the lead of the youth to halt desertification, reduce degradation, improve agricultural sustainability and restore damaged lands.

“The youth is a very particular case. The youth give me a lot of hope because I see their passion, and I see their vision,” head of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Ibrahim Thiaw told IPS.

“For the youth it’s basically ‘I care for the planet, this is our future.’”

Each minute, 23 hectares of productive land and soil is lost to desertification, land degradation and drought, according to U.N. Environment.

Thiaw said when this happens young people are forced to leave their homeland, and most never return.

He said restoring land will help in reducing risks of irregular migration – a major component of population change in some countries.

According to a new U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division report launched on Monday, Jun. 17, between 2010 and 2020, 14 countries or areas will see a net inflow of more than one million migrants, while 10 countries will see a net outflow of similar magnitude.

“What is left for the young girl or young gentleman of Haiti if 98 percent of their forest have been degraded and they have barren hills that cannot generate food anymore? What is left for them to do but to flee?” Thiaw questioned.

“Therefore, restoring land would reduce migration, it will keep people on the ground, help them generate their own income and live their own lives. They don’t want to leave their families. They migrate because they have no choice. So, restoring land is also bringing stability in our countries.”

Like Haiti, Grenada – another Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state – has seen its share of land degradation.



Author: Willem Van Cotthem

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