Today is the World Day to Combat Desertification, aiming since 1995 to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought. With over 1.5 billion people globally depending on degrading areas for their livelihoods, it is imperative for us to actively promote adaptation strategies dealing with the effects of climate change.
Why combat desertification?
Nearly half of the world’s very poor (42%) live in degraded areas, making them some of the most insecure places in the world, and in some cases their instability can destabilize entire political regions.
While these regions may seem far away to those of us who live in cities or developed countries, the effects of their suffering ripple across the globe. It is estimated that by 2020 some 60 million people will migrate from desertified areas in Sub-Saharan Africa towards Northern Africa and Europe.
The theme of this year was chosen to increase awareness about the potential of ecosystem-based adaptation as a strategy for coping with the impacts of climate change, especially in the drylands. Ecosystem-based adaptation means the strengthening of natural systems to cushion the worst impacts of climate change. When ecosystems are healthy, they are less vulnerable to the impacts and hazards of climate change.
In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 17 the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought to promote public awareness of the issue, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.
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