UNCCD Celebrates World Desertification Day
Today marks the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s annual World Desertification Day. Organizations, institutions, and individuals from across the globe will participate today in a multilateral effort to highlight desertification prevention and drought recovery methods.
Since it was proclaimed in 1995, UNCCD has always celebrated Desertification Day with forward-thinking themes. Past themes have included women and desertification (2005), combating land degradation for sustainable agriculture (2008), and ecosystem-based adaptation (2014). This year, UNCCD is marking the celebration with the focus: “attainment of food security for all through sustainable food systems.”
According to the 2014 FAO State of Food Insecurity in the World report, some 805 million people in the world lacked sufficient nutritious food between 2012 and 2014. UNCCD believes that tackling this issue requires not only an examination of economic development and managing national disasters, but also a focus on the land itself – the source of 99.7% of our food calories.
UNCCD seeks to combat these global concerns with the slogan ‘No such thing as a free lunch, invest in healthy soil.’ This year’s observance calls for several changes and improved practices to aid the fight against world hunger and climate change. These include:
- Sustainable land management in the drylands, especially though smart agriculture and adaptation to changing climate;
- Access to technology and land rights for small holder farmers who safeguard the environment and meet the food needs of the poor;
- Recognizing and learning from the best practices on the balanced use of land for consumption;
- Promoting increased investments in sustainable land management practices to ensure the establishment and maintenance of sustainable food systems;
- Recognizing desertification as the invisible frontline with potential threats to security, peace and stability of affected countries through, for example, food and water scarcity and environmentally forced migration.
UNCCD derives their inspiration for this theme from forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals as recommended by the Open Working Group. Eradicating hunger (Goal 2) is one of the recommended post-2015 goals, and restoring degraded land and soil are proposed in Goal 15. The aim of World Desertification Day, UNCCD believes, is to advocate for the recognition and strengthening of these links in the post-2015 processes. They hope that this day sends an impactful message to the public and to decision makers that eradicating hunger and poverty for all is closely tied to the realizing land-degradation.
In addition to individuals observing the event on a global scale, the Government of Italy is hosting an observance of the event at the Expo Milano 2015. The Secretariat and Global Mechanism of UNCCD, in cooperation with the Government of Italy and other partners, have organized the event.
The post-2015 agenda promotes and envisions land-degradation neutrality as a means to alleviate poverty and hunger. As all countries use the land for food and water, UNCCD believes it is imperative that every country joins in spreading the message of land preservation.