‘Land Belongs to the Future, Let’s Climate Proof It’ is the slogan for the 2014 World Day to Combat Desertification, celebrated globally today.
The World Day to Combat Desertification highlights the benefits of mainstreaming sustainable land management policies and practices into our collective response to climate change. It aims to raise awareness of the fact that sustainable land management increases both community and ecosystem resilience while improving the human condition, particularly in the drylands.
More specifically WDCD also aims to promote the inclusion of land and soil (and their significance in relation to food security) into country’s climate change adaptation policies.
The campaign promotes an ecosystem-based approach as a way to climate-proof land and secure its productivity for present and future generations. The UNCCD has also organised a global observance at the World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C. today with high-level participation, where the winners of the Land for Life Award, for excellence in sustainable land management, will be announced.
“Climate change is bringing more extreme weather like prolonged droughts and flash floods to more communities – the communities, who are most vulnerable to desertification…. World Day to Combat Desertification on the 17th of June is a unique opportunity to remind everyone that land degradation can be effectively tackled and that solutions exist,” according to Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary.
The importance of sustainable land management in Africa
According to the UNCCD, studies show that 24 billion tons of fertile soil are being eroded each year, and 2 billion hectares of degraded land have potential for recovery and restoration.
Furthermore, two-thirds of the African continent is desert or drylands. This land is critical for agriculture and food production, but much of it is estimated to be degraded to varying degrees. Many part of Africa are also affected by frequent and severe droughts and widespread poverty – and many people are dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. Therefore, fighting land degradation and desertification and mitigating the effects of drought are prerequisites for economic growth and social progress in many African countries.