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UN urges effective land preservation to combat desertification

On World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought observed on Sunday, June 17, 2018, the UN has called for effective land preservation to combat desertification.

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Desertification and land degradation are said to be very serious challenges that lead to hunger and poverty

According to a statement by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), land is not a limitless resource and ignoring its role in our everyday lives threatens food and water supplies, biodiversity and the security of us all.

The UNCCD urged everyone to recognise the true value of land.

“I would ask you: when you choose what to eat, what to wear or what to drive, think about how your choice impacts the land – for better or for worse,” said Ms Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary.

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In her message for the day, Barbut said land-grabbing, unplanned urban sprawl, unsustainable agriculture and over-consumption could yield quick economic gains.

However, such short-sightedness eventually causes degradation and loss of critical ecosystem services due to unsustainable land use, she warned.

“As a result, a third of the world’s usable land has already severely degraded over the last 30 years, with 75 billion tonnes of soil from arable land lost annually,” she said.

According to her, everyone can contribute to, and benefit from, investing in sustainable land management – as consumers, producers, corporations or governments.

Barbut said: “Farmers can invest in smart agriculture with higher yields but reduced pesticides.

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“Policymakers and land managers can invest in sustainable land management while consumers can choose to spend on organic and fair-trade products that avoid ruining the land.

“Let us work together to transform the way we consume, produce, work, and live together without compromising our current or future social, economic or environmental security without compromising the land on which it all depends”.

The UN General Assembly established the World Day in 1994 to promote public awareness of land degradation and to draw attention to the implementation of the UNCCD – the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.

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The World Day is observed annually on June 17, the date the UNCCD was adopted, while the 2018 theme for the Day is “Land has true value – invest in it”.

The campaign hopes to promote changes in behaviour and adoption of more efficient planning and practices, to ensure there are sufficient land resources for the world’s long-term sustainability and economic prosperity.

By Prudence Arobani

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