News Release

Top UN officials call for more efforts to fight desertification

Time:2016-06-22 Browse Number:265 Source:Xinhua

(June 17) Top UN officials on Friday called for more world efforts to combat desertification and restore land resources as nearly 800 million people are chronically undernourished as a direct consequence of land degradation, declining soil, fertility, unsustainable water use, drought and biodiversity loss.

The desertification requires solutions to helping communities increase resilience to climate change, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message to mark the World Day to Combat Desertification, whose theme this year is "Protect Earth. Restore land. Engage people." 

"The livelihoods and well-being of hundreds of millions of people are at stake," Ban said. 

Ranking among the greatest environmental challenges of the current times, desertification is a phenomenon that refers to the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems by human activities - including unsustainable farming, mining, overgazing and clear-cutting of land, and by climate change.

The World Day, observed annually on June 17, is intended to promote public awareness of the issues of desertification and drought, and the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification. 

"Over the next 25 years, land degradation could reduce global food productivity by as much as 12 percent, leading to a 30-percent increase in world food prices," he said. 

In his message, the UN chief noted more than 50 percent of agricultural land is moderately or severely degraded, with 12 million hectares lost to production each year.

"Desertification, land degradation, drought and climate change are interconnected," he said. "As a result of land degradation and climate change, the severity and frequency of droughts have been increasing, along with floods and extreme temperatures."