17 June is recognised by the United Nations as the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. Desertification, a problem affecting over 250 million people worldwide, is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, caused by inappropriate and overuse of the land through human activities like deforestation or overgrazing.
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed each year to raise awareness of international efforts to combat desertification, and to promote the message that it is possible to achieve land degradation neutrality through problem solving and strong community involvement.
This year, the main theme focuses on the connection between land degradation and migration:
Among others, environmental degradation, food insecurity and poverty are causes of migration and development challenges.
In just 15 years, the number of international migrants worldwide has risen from 173 million in 2000 to 244 million in 2015.
This year’s celebration looks at specific ways local communities can build resilience against current multi-fold development challenges through sustainable land management practices. This day should remind everyone of land’s important role in producing food and generating local employment, as well as its ability to add to the sustainability, stability and security of desertification-affected places.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was established in 1994, and parties to the Convention work together to maintain and restore land and soil productivity and to mitigate the effects of drought in vulnerable areas around the world. Activities that can help combat land degradation include reforestation, enrichment of soil through planting, and water management, among others. Goal 15 of the Sustainable Development Goals also focuses specifically on this issue.
For more information about efforts to combat desertification and drought, head to: