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World Day to Combat Desertification: Making smart investments in land

Thirty percent of all land is degraded, and has lost its true value. Land grabbing and a headlong rush for productive land signals a growing recognition that access to productive land will be crucial for future economic growth, peace and stability, according to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

UNCCD COP13

Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary, UNCCD, speaking during COP23 in China in 2017

The World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD), to be marked worldwide on June 17, 2018, will focus on how consumers can regenerate economies, create jobs and revitalise livelihoods and communities by influencing the market to invest in sustainable land management through what we buy, says the UN organisation.

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Unveiling the theme on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, Monique Barbut, Under-Secretary General of the UNCCD, said: “The campaign slogan, ‘Land has true value. Invest in it’, reminds us that land is a tangible asset with measurable value beyond just cash. That value is lost through degradation. But we can encourage land users to use land management practices that keep the land productive by the decisions we make every day in what we buy to eat, drink and wear.”

A mapping of the impacts of man’s individual decisions by the Global Land Outlook appears to show the real picture. An analysis of the food consumed in London found that around 80 per cent of the food is imported from other countries. The footprint for the Netherlands shows that the country needs four times its own land area to feed its people.

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“Every coin a consumer spends determines where investments by the private sector and governments go – either to land degrading ventures or towards good land use practices. Let’s not underestimate how our small individual decisions transform the world, so let’s choose wisely with our purchases,” Ms Barbut said.

The sustainable development goal target to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030 is an important response to these challenges, UNCCD emphasises, adding that it will help to recover degraded lands, stop land grabbing, fight climate change, increase food production and provide clean water.

The global observance of the Day in 2018 will be hosted by the Government of Ecuador. Ecuador, it was gathered, promotes smart and healthy consumerism and supports the use of sustainable land use practices such as bioeconomy, which is an impact indicator of the National Development Plan (2017-2020).

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The World Day to Combat Desertification was established by the UN General Assembly 23 years ago to be celebrated by every country in order to raise global awareness about the status of, and the priority actions taken at global and national levels to reverse desertification land degradation and strengthen responses to drought.

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