The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year on 17 June, since 1994, to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. This day is an opportunity to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem solving, strong community involvement, and co-operation at all levels.
Over 70 percent of natural ecosystems have been transformed. By 2050, this could hit 90 percent. As populations become larger, wealthier, and more urban, there is far greater demand for productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050, and lifestyles need to change. 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.
Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land. Hence, this year’s theme for the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is ‘Rising up from drought together, and it emphasises the need of an early action to avoid disastrous consequences for humanity and the planetary ecosystems. Restoring natural landscapes reduces close contact between wildlife and human settlements, creating a natural buffer against zoonotic diseases.
The World Assembly of Youth (WAY) aims to remind everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and co-operation at all levels. Every stakeholder plays an important role in halting any further activity which could worsen the desertification that has already persisted in today world. Avoiding, slowing, and reversing the loss of productive land and natural ecosystems now is both urgent and important for guaranteeing the long-term survival of people and the planet.
We encourage participation of young people and youth organisation on schemes to fight desertification and land degradation by: planting trees in their communities, conducting land restoration activities, and part taking in nature based solutions for climate action initiatives. Let us unite our efforts to achieve a sustainable future and better tomorrow for all!