The 2021 Desertification and Drought Day to be held on 17 June will focus on turning degraded land into healthy land. Restoring degraded land brings economic resilience, creates jobs, raises incomes and increases food security. It helps biodiversity to recover. It locks away the atmospheric carbon warming the Earth, slowing climate change. It can also lessen the impacts of climate change and underpin a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will work with the Ministry of Environment (MINAE) of Costa Rica, the host of the global observance, to encourage households, communities, private sector and countries to have a better relationship with nature as we recover from COVID-19.
Nearly three quarters of the Earth’s ice-free land has been altered by humans to meet an ever-growing demand for food, raw materials, highways and homes. Fixing damaged ecosystems mitigates against climate change and bolsters nature’s defences against disasters and extreme weather events such as wildfires, droughts, floods, and sand and dust storms. Restoring natural landscapes reduces close contact between wildlife and human settlements, creating a natural buffer against zoonotic diseases.
Avoiding, slowing and reversing the loss of productive land and natural ecosystems now is both urgent and important for a swift recovery from the pandemic and for guaranteeing the long-term survival of people and the planet.
Land restoration can contribute greatly to post-COVID19 economic recovery. Investing in land restoration creates jobs and generates economic benefits, and could provide livelihoods at a time when hundreds of millions of jobs are being lost.
— Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary
“Smart land-based restoration initiatives would be particularly helpful for women and youth, who are often the last to receive help in times of crises. As we enter the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, we have a real chance to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. If countries can restore the nearly 800 million hectares of degraded land they have pledged to restore by 2030, we can safeguard humanity and our planet from the looming danger,” adds Mr. Thiaw.
The COVID19 pandemic has reinforced just how much we need our forests, drylands, wetlands and other land ecosystems: for food, for the green economy, for eco-tourism, as a buffer against extreme climate events. In Costa Rica, our unique tropical forests are a limited and precious natural resource that we cannot neglect. On Desertification and Drought Day, I urge us all to push hard to restore our lands. We all have a role to play, because we all have a stake in our planet’s future.
— Andrea Meza, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica
You can also follow and support the campaign on social media using these hashtags: #DesertificationAndDroughtDay #RestorationLandRecovery
About Desertification and Drought Day
Desertification and Drought Day – known as the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought before 2020 – is observed every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that reversing land degradation is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels.
In 2021, the goal of Desertification and Drought Day is to demonstrate that investing in healthy land as part of a green recovery is a smart economic decision – not just in terms of creating jobs and rebuilding livelihoods, but in terms of insulating economies against future crises caused by climate change and nature loss, and in accelerating progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals as we recover from COVID-19.
- The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was adopted on 17th of June 1994 and came into force in 24th of December 1996 under which the World Desertification and Drought Day is observed globally.
- The convention aims at combating desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in the countries affected through effective action at all levels supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements in the framework of an integrated approach to help achieve sustainable development.
- The World Desertification and Drought Day (WDDD) formerly World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) is observed on 17th June each year as required under the United Nations Convection to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) which Kenya signed in 1994 and ratified in 1997.
- Kenya has observed this day since 1995 to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification, land degradation and mitigate effects of drought mainly in ASAL counties the last 2 years in Kajiado and Makueni counties respectively
- The UNCCD is domesticated at the country level through the development and implementation of the National Action Programme (NAP) guided by the UNCCD Secretariat.
- Kenya developed its first NAP in 2002. The 2nd NAP (2015-2015) was prepared to align it to the UNCCD Ten Year Strategy 2008-2018 which has 5 operational objectives namely: advocacy, awareness-raising and education; policy framework; science, technology and knowledge; capacity building; financing and technology transfer.
- These objectives are the cornerstone on which all policy and instructional frameworks are supposed to anchor their strategies to address DLDD issues
- The commemoration of the day is indeed important for the country as it helps us reflects on the many challenges facing us in our effort to combat desertification, land degradation and mitigate effects of drought (DLDD).
- We look at specific ways that local communities can build resilience against current multi-fold development challenges through sustainable land management practices.
- We need to remind everyone of the importance of land and its role in producing food, fible, feed and generating local employment, as well as its ability to add to the sustainability, stability and security of vulnerable communities
- This year’s Theme and Slogan “F Feed. Fibre. sustainable production and consumption” focuses on changing public attitudes to the leading drivers of desertification and land degradation: humanity’s relentless production and consumption.
- As populations become larger, wealthier and more urban, there is far greater demand for land to provide food, animal feed and fibre(for clothing). Meanwhile, the health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, worsened by climate change.
- To have enough productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050, lifestyles need to change. Desertification and Drought Day seeks to educate individuals on how to reduce their personal impact.
- The official global event will take place in Seoul, Republic of Korea, while the Kenya event will be at Kargi, Loiyangalani Subcounty of Marsabit County The County is largely an arid/semi-arid and experiences food insecurity and poverty due to persistent drought and inadequate adaptation strategies and this needs to be emphasized during this very important event.
- The preparatory process has been largely virtual through zoom meetings (due to Corona virus pandemic) of the national steering committee while activities on the ground started a few weeks ago through tree planting and awareness creation. The members of this committee are appreciated for the efforts in making this day’s commemoration a success. The partners who have also chipped in with resources to support the event need to be appreciated too.
- At the global level the end result is that land is being converted and degraded at unstainable rates, damaging production, ecosystems and biodiversity.
- Today, more than two billion hectares of previously productive land is degraded
- Over 70 per cent of natural ecosystems have been transformed. By 2050, this could hit 90 per cent
- By 2030, food production will require an additional 300 million hectares of land
- By 2030, the fashion industry is predicted to use 35 per cent more land – over 115 million hectares, equivalent to the size of Colombia
- In order to respond DLDD challenges, the Government of Kenya has developed necessary interventions.
- Some of the interventions include: Enactment of the National Land Policy, the Climate Change Act 2016, National Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plan, the establishment of the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) and the establishment of Climate Change Secretariat, LDN Target setting, Kenya Strategic Investment Framework on Sustainable Land Management among others.
- Besides these efforts, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in collaboration with NEMA has reviewed and aligned the National Action Programme for combating desertification with the 10 year UNCCD strategy 2008-2018.
- It is only through inclusivity that Kenya shall attain all the SDGs by 2030. As one way of promoting sustainable development, through a Gazette Notice No. 2334, the The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry banned the manufacture, importation and use of plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging last year. This is a milestone in ensuring the land on which production occurs is kept in a healthy and safe state.
- In addition, the ministry has developed the Environment Policy and reviewed relevant policies to be in line with the Constitution and all these initiatives will lead to improved community participation in environmental planning and management as well as strengthened environmental governance and partnerships
- In conclusion, as a country, if each and every citizen does not play their roles to mitigate against the effects of desertification, land degradation and drought, we may in future not only lack food, feed and fibre but the land may not be able to sustain us. By turning land degradation into land restoration, we can realize the land´s full potential.
- We welcome everybody to this year’s commemoration event either through local/ individual conservation activities or join the national event at Marsabit County.