24 billion tons of fertile land lost every year, warns UN chief on World Day to Combat Desertification

‘It isn’t just about sand’

In his message, Ibrahim Thiaw, the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention, said there are only three things all people need to know about the World Day to Combat Desertification:

  1. It isn’t just about sand,
  2. It isn’t an isolated issue that will quietly disappear; and
  3. It isn’t someone else’s problem

“It’s about restoring and protecting the fragile layer of land which only covers a third of the Earth, but which can either alleviate or accelerate the double-edged crisis facing our biodiversity and our climate,” he said.

The international community, he continued, has acknowledged the central role our land plays in our lives and livelihoods, and since the creation of the Convention, some 196 countries, including Brazil, Indonesia, China and India, as well as the European Union, have signed up to coordinated actions for sustainable land management.

“However, there are even more stories about how poor land management has degraded an area twice the size of China and shaped a farming sector that contributes nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gases,” he said, stressing that there are even more stories about how half the people on the planet are affected by that damaged land or live in urban areas, consuming resources that require 200 times as much land as their towns and cities and generating 70 per cent of emissions.

 

“Yet, the world is determined that by 2030, we will switch from destroying the Earth to making it productive enough to grow a better future for everyone. If we take action to restore our degraded land, it will save $1.3 billion a day to invest in the education, equality and clean energy that can reduce poverty, conflict and environmental migration,” noted Mr. Thiaw.

And while, better land management does not hold all the answers, it offers a stepping stone to reach global goals by 2030 and then act as a natural multiplier of their benefits.

“So, for this World Day to Combat Desertification, I am calling on everyone to drive this change from the ground up; to make choices and take action, either privately or professionally, as producers or consumers, to protect and restore our land. Let’s grow the future together,” he said.

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