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Thursday, July 18, 2019
ROME, Jun 17 2019 (IPS) - One third of the planet’s land surface is under the threat of desertification, impacting over 250 million people.
Although Africa remains the most affected continent, we are witnessing an alarming shift globally: 30% of the United States for example is affected by desertification, one quarter of the land in Latin America and the Caribbean is now arid, and one fifth of Spanish land is at risk of turning into deserts.
Since the 1950s sand drifts and expanding deserts have taken a toll of nearly 700,000 hectares of cultivated land, 2.35 million hectares of rangeland, 6.4 million hectares of forests, woodlands and shrublands.
Worldwide, 70% of dryland used for agriculture are already degrading and are increasingly threatened by desertification.
This change is often at the root of political and socio-economic problems, and poses a threat to the environmental equilibrium in affected regions. 135 million people are at risk of being displaced because of desertification and mass migrations are only just beginning.
For example, close to one million Mexicans leave their rural drylands every year to find better lives in the United States. 60 million people are expected to move from Sub-Saharan Africa towards Northern Africa and Europe in the next 20 years.
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought has been observed since 1995 to promote public awareness relating to the international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Under the theme “Let’s grow the future together” this event provides an opportunity to look back and celebrate the 25 years of progress made by countries on sustainable land management, as well as looking at the broad picture of the next 25 years when hopefully we will achieve land degradation neutrality.
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