UN launches decade-long efforts to tackle desertification
Fortaleza (Brazil) / Nairobi, 16 August 2010 - The United Nations is launching the Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification (2010-2020) today, an 11-year long effort to raise awareness and action to improve the protection and management of the world's drylands, home to a third of the world's population and which face serious economic and environmental threats.
"Continued land degradation - whether from climate change, unsustainable agriculture or poor management of water resources - is a threat to food security, leading to starvation among the most acutely affected communities and robbing the world of productive land," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a statement announcing the launch.
"As we begin the Decade on Deserts and the Fight against Desertification, let us pledge to intensify our efforts to nurture the land we need for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and guaranteeing human well-being," he added.
On a global scale, desertification - land degradation in drylands - affects 3.6 billion hectares, which accounts for 25 percent of the Earth's terrestrial land mass. It threatens the livelihoods of more than 1 billion people in some 100 countries.
Against this backdrop, member states of the United Nations addressed growing desertification and land degradation by adopting a resolution to dedicate the next decade to combating desertification and improving the protection and management of the world's drylands in 2007.
The global launch took place in Fortaleza, Brazil, in the State of Ceara, Brazil's semi-arid region, during the Second International Conference: Climate, Sustainability and Development in Semi-arid Regions.
Also today, the regional launch for Africa was held in Nairobi, Kenya, at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Other regional launches are scheduled to take place in New York, in September, for the North American Region, in the Republic of Korea in October, for the Asian Region, and in November for the European region.