Protecting Our Planet – Securing Our Future (1998)

Posted by Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM

Ghent University – Belgium

Having participated in all the meetings of the INCD (1992-1994) and all the meetings of the UNCCD-COP, the CST and the CRIC in 1994-2006, I had an opportunity to collect a lot of interesting books and publications on drought and desertification published in that period.

Book Nr. 34

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or see protecting-our-planet-securing-our-future-1998

World Day to Combat Desertification

Photo credit: Google – Imgres.jpg


United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June 

Let us find long‐term solutions, not just quick fixes, to disasters that are
destroying communities,” urged Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD.(See PRESS RELEASE below).


Willem Van Cotthem: We keep hoping that success stories and best practices will be applied at the global level. Priority should be given to methods and techniques providing daily fresh food to the hungry and malnourished. It cannot be denied that hunger and malnutrition are constantly undermining the performances of people. Application of existing success stories in local food production (kitchen gardens, school gardens, hospital gardens, …) would positively influence the efforts to combat desertification (limiting erosion, stimulating reforestation, etc.). We keep hoping.

ReplyUnited Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Hi Willem Van Cotthem, would you like to share some success stories you have? We always welcome all to share!”

       ReplyWillem Van Cotthem : Hello Friends at the UNCCD Secretariat: It will be my pleasure to select a series of success stories in the literature. However, I am convinced that the UNCCD secretariat has the necessary documentation to compile even a book on this subject (to the best of my knowledge the documents, e.g. presentations at COPs and meetings of CST and CRIC, have been there during my active period in the CST and in Bonn). Please consider a consultancy to achieve top class work that would serve all member countries, the CST and the CRIC. To be presented at the next World Day June 17th 2016.

UNCCD’s Monique Barbut Calls for Long‐Term Solutions Not Just Quick Fixes To Drought Bonn, Germany, 22/02/2016 –
“Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People. This is the slogan for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June. I am calling for solidarity from the international community with the people who are battling the ravages of drought and flood. Let us find long‐term solutions, not just quick fixes, to disasters that are destroying communities,” urged Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The droughts and floods beating down on communities in many parts of the world are linked to the current El Niño, which is expected to affect up 60 million people by July. In some areas, including in North Eastern Brazil, Somali, Ethiopia, Kenya and Namibia, the El Niño effects are coming on the back of years of severe and recurrent droughts. It is impossible for households that rely on the land for food and farm labor to recover, especially when the land is degraded.
What’s more, these conditions do not just devastate families and destabilize communities. When they are not attended to urgently, they can become a push factor for migration, and end with gross human rights abuses and long‐term security threats.
“We have seen this before – in Darfur following four decades of droughts and desertification and, more recently, in Syria, following the long drought of 2007‐2010. It is tragic to see a society breaking down when we can reduce the vulnerability of communities through simple and affordable acts such as restoring the degraded lands they live on, and helping countries to set up better systems for drought early warning and to prepare for and manage drought and floods,” Barbut said.
Ms Barbut made the remarks when announcing the plans for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification, which will take place on 17 June.
“I hope that World Day to Combat Desertification this year marks a turning point for every country. We need to show, through practical action and cooperation, how every country is tacking or supporting these challenges at the front‐end to preempt or minimize the potential impacts of the disasters, not just at the back‐end after the disasters happen,” she stated.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 17 June as the observance Day to raise public awareness about international efforts to combat desertification and the effects of drought.
Ms Barbut thanked the Government and People of China, for offering to host the global observance event, which will take place at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
“China has vast experience in nursing degraded lands and man‐made deserts back to health. This knowledge can and should benefit initiatives such as Africa’s Great Green Wall, the re‐ greening in southern Africa and the 20 X 20 Initiative in Latin America. We can create a better, more equal and climate change‐resilient world,” she noted.
“I also call on countries, the private sector, foundations and people of goodwill to support Africa  when the countries meet later in the year to develop concrete plans and policies to pre‐ empt, monitor and manage droughts,” Ms Barbut stated.
The 2016 World Day campaign is also advancing the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September last year. The Goals include a target to achieve a land degradation‐neutral world by 2030. That is, a world where the land restored back to health equals to, or is more than, the amount degraded every year.
For more information on the Day and previous events, visit:‐and‐campaigns/WDCD/Pages/default.aspx
For background information and materials for the 2016 Observance, visit: For information about the Global Observance event, visit:‐and‐ campaigns/WDCD/wdcd2016/Pages/default.aspx
Contact for World Day to Combat Desertification:
For Media information:

Hurrah for Mars

Photo credit: Food Tank

Mars Food is the first to commit to a new standard for sustainable rice production.

Mars Food Commits to 100 Percent Sustainable Rice By 2020

Rice is a key food staple for more than half of the global population and supports more than 140 million smallholder farmers in the developing world. Unfortunately, rice production alone is currently responsible for 5 to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and 35 to 45 percent of the world’s irrigated water use.
But it’s possible to improve production methods to prevent these environmental impacts while improving food security in the developing world. The U.N Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) recently announced the first-ever worldwide standard for sustainable rice production, as part of a partnership, the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), at a kickoff workshop in Cambodia.
Mars Food is the first company to commit to the new standard, and will apply it to 100 percent of its rice by 2020, including Uncle Ben’s, which is the world’s largest rice brand. Mars is already piloting the new standard in Pakistan and India with practices that work to improve both food safety and water quality.
The standard implemented by the SRP includes 46 requirements for productivity, food safety, worker health, labor rights, and biodiversity, designed to reduce the environmental footprint of rice cultivation while improving the incomes of small farmers.
Read the full article: Food Tank

Maximizing the land’s potential and protecting its vegetation

UNFCCC, UNCCD and UNEP Highlight Development Benefits of Linking Land and Climate Agenda

13 July 2015: In their joint op-ed, titled ‘The Land Battle for Sustainable Development,’ Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), underscore the “huge, largely untapped potential for rapid gains in both the fight against climate change and efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs].”

The article was published by Project Syndicate as a contribution to the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3), which took place from 12-16 July 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Asserting that “there are reasons to be optimistic about the fight against climate change and the pursuit of sustainable development,” the three UN leaders highlight current high levels of investment in energy efficiency and conservation as promising steps forward. They note, however, that the importance of improved land management to win the fight against climate change “has largely been overlooked.” They warn that this risks depriving the world of “crucial tools in the creation of a low-carbon future” and missing “important opportunities to build resilience and adapt to the effects of rising temperatures.”
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Nine of the 17 MDGs are based on science and technology

Photo credit: Google

United Nations Environment Programme collaboration in an innovative manner to make environmental science actionable for policy making and civil society

Zimbabwe: ‘Science and Technology Key to Sustainable Growth’

African countries should use science and technology to research on new sources of food, a senior Government official has said. Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Oppah Muchinguri told delegates to the recently ended two-day UNESCO Asia-Africa consultation on sustainability science to support the post-2015 agenda that science is crucial for poverty reduction, clean water and new energy forms to support the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. She added that there was need to turn the country’s knowledge base into practical solutions.

“We are very proud as a nation that the literacy rate is above 90 percent, but that knowledge should be converted to into practice, there is need for increasing scientific literacy, we need to develop a market-oriented curriculum through research of new technologies, African governments, scientists and communities therefore need to look ahead with foresight in order to plan and prepare adequately for emerging development challenges and opportunities,” said Minister Muchinguri.

She added that for sustainable development, policy makers, governments and scientists should join hands in harnessing science and technological innovations.

Read the full article: allAfrica

The link between desertification and climate change

Photo credit: Google

An olive grove in the Mascara Region, Algeria (Photo UNEP)

Algeria: IPCC Adopts Algeria’s Proposal On Desertification, Climate Change

Algeria’s proposal on the elaboration of a special report on the link between desertification and climate change have been recently accepted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The announcement of accepting Algeria’s proposal was made in the meeting of the 41st session of IPCC held from 24 to 27 February at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi (Kenya).

This proposal was supported by several countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Mali, Chad, Switzerland and Spain.

Read the full article: allAfrica

Is bamboo an answer to deforestation ?

Photo credit: IPS

Bamboo nursery in Africa. There is debate over whether commercially-grown bamboo could help reverse the effects of deforestation and land degradation that has spread harm across the African continent. Credit: EcoPlanet Bamboo

Bamboo – An Answer to Deforestation or Not in Africa?

Bamboo can play a role in reversing ecosystem degradation

By Jeffrey Moyo

Deforestation is haunting the African continent as industrial growth paves over public commons and puts more hectares into private hands.

Phyllostachys nigra, drought-tolerant bamboo -
Phyllostachys nigra, drought-tolerant bamboo –×535.jpg

According to the Environmental News Network, a web-based resource, Africa loses forest cover equal to the size of Switzerland every year, or approximately 41 000 square kilometres.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is also on record as saying the African continent loses over four million hectares (9.9 million acres) of natural forest annually, which is twice the world’s average deforestation rate. And deforestation, according to UNEP, accounts for at least one-fifth of all carbon emissions globally.

Phyllostachys nigr stand -
Phyllostachys nigr stand –

The dangerous pace of deforestation has triggered a market-based solution using bamboo, a fast-growing woody grass that grows chiefly in the tropics.

“If grown in the right way, and under the right sustainable management system, in certain areas, bamboo can play a role in reversing ecosystem degradation” – Troy Wiseman, CEO of EcoPlanet Bamboo

“The idea of bamboo plantations is a good one, but it triggers fear of widespread starvation as poor Africans may be lured into this venture for money and start ditching food crops” – Terry Mutsvanga, Zimbabwean human rights activist

EcoPlanet Bamboo, a multinational company, has been expanding its operations in Africa while it promotes the industrialisation of bamboo as an environmentally attractive alternative fibre for timber manufacturing industries that currently rely on the harvesting of natural forests for their raw resource. The company’s operations extend to South Africa, Ghana and Nicaragua.

For EcoPlanet and some African environmentalists, commercially-grown bamboo could help reverse the effects of deforestation and land degradation that has spread harm across the African continent.

Read the full article: IPS

What is desertification ?

Photo credit: Google

Desertification: Causes, Effects and Control of Desertification

by Puja Mondal Natural Resources

Desertification is taking place much faster worldwide than historically and usually arises from the demands of increased populations that settle on the land in order to grow crops and graze animals.

It is land degradation occurring in arid, semiarid and dry sub-humid areas of the world. It is a process where in fertile lands become arid through land mismanagement or climate changes. Many deserts in the world are man-made.

Desertification is taking place much faster worldwide than historically and usually arises from the demands of increased populations that settle on the land in order to grow crops and graze animals.

These susceptible dry lands cover 40 percent of the earth’s surface and put at risk more than 1 billion people who are dependent on these lands for survival. Around 80% of the productive land in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world is estimated to be converting into deserts and around 600 million people are threatened by desertification (according to UNEP).

Globally around 2 billion acres of land have become deserts in the past 50 years. The current rate of desertification is around 15 million acres per year, the worst being in sub-saharan Africa. Than desert in Rajasthan covers about 12,000 hectares of land.

Causes of Desertification:

Read the full article: Your Article Library

Desertification: study, interpretation and extent are clouded with controversy

Photo credit: Eng. Taleb Brahim 2008-02

Family garden in the Sahara desert: Smara refugee camp (S.W. Algeria)

The Desertification Debate Controversy

Outline the main controversies involved in the desertification debate.

Despite the fact that desertification is not a new concept, having occurred for “millennia” (Grainger, 1990) or “since the Neolithic” (Spooner, 1985), it has only in the last three or four decades been thrust into the limelight. It was conceptualised as a serious problem for the first time in the 1970s, upon the recognition of the varying patterns of spatial desert conditions, especially in the Sahel, where such changes coincided with a period of sustained drought. It was perhaps the “first big environmental issue” (Thomas + Middleton, 1994) which encompassed not only environmental issues, but also wider social, political and economic angles. It is thus no surprise that its study, interpretation and extent are clouded with controversy, as the complexity of the issue does not lead to any universally accepted and agreed explanations of the phenomenon. This complexity is further hampered by our practical inability to extrapolate individual causes and effects, from what is in reality, an interactive, multi-factorial system.

“Desertification is fraught with confusions and contradictions, generalisations based on a lack of data, and uncertainties stated as facts” (Thomas + Middleton, 1994)

Similarly, concern arises as to the spatial areas of vulnerability to desertification, their areal extent, and the temporal nature of the phenomena, which will set it apart from the naturally variable and stochastic nature of climate in drylands, and emphasise its irreversibility.

Read the full article: Direct Essays

UNFCCC: Send us your photos (Every Day Climate Change)

Photo credit: Newsroom

A shepherd prepares firewood outside a shack on barren grasslands

Climate Photo of the Week


The Climate Photo of this Week features the difficulties of the people from the central China’s Ningxia province, highly affected by desertification. In the picture a shepherd prepares firewood outside a shack on barren grasslands.

This photo was taken by photographer Katharina Hesse and it is part of Every Day Climate Change, an Instagram feed where photographers from around the world share their images to raise awareness about climate change.

Send us your photos

If you have cool photos of high quality that you might want us to feature, please e-mail with a caption, date and place where the photo was taken plus any copyright restrictions.

Read the full article: Newsroom


To improve the management of dryland ecosystems (Google / EcoSeed)

Read at : Google Alerts – desertification

U.N. bodies, Chinese foundation to tackle desertification and green opportunities

Two United Nations bodies have partnered with the Beijing-based Elion Foundation to tackle the issue of desertification, and to harness the economic potential of drylands through renewable energy, desert tourism, and other sustainable projects.

The United Nations Environment Program, U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, and the non-profit organization Elion Foundation have signed a Memoranda of Understanding that aim to improve the management of dryland ecosystems. The partnership was announced at the Kubuqi International Desert Forum, an international forum dedicated to supporting the green development of the world’s deserts.

Particularly focusing on China, Mongolia, and other countries in Central Asia, the collaboration will support pilot projects, such as ecosystem services projects, investments in initiatives, and to improve the sharing of knowledge, technology, and data on desertification between the developing countries.


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