Opinion

Ban Ki Moon speaks on desertification

20 June 2008 at 12:26 | 509 views

MESSAGE ON THE WORLD DAY
TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION
17 June 2008

The theme of this year’s Day, “Combating land degradation for sustainable
agriculture” reminds us of the importance of land as a global heritage which no human
being can live without. Land degradation affects a significant portion of the Earth’s arable
lands, directly impacting the well-being of people and economic development of countries.

It causes agricultural economic losses, disorganizes local and regional food markets, and
causes social and political instability.
As the population grows, and with it the demand for agriculture production,
traditional systems of managing the land are collapsing. This is aggravated by the adoption
of new practices, often monocultures. More and more of the good land is pressed into
service, without proper attention to conservation, and poor farmers and pastoralists are
forced onto marginal land. Land degradation impacts women particularly hard, since in
traditionally they who devote time and effort to the land — growing, processing, managing
and marketing most of the food and other natural resources.
These issues are holistically covered within the framework of the United Nations

Convention to Combat Desertification, which serves as the nexus between poverty
reduction and ecosystem protection in the drylands. Today, the Convention is the sole
international legal framework to reclaim dry and degraded land, and could offer a longterm
solution to producing more food for more people. These unused lands could also serve
for biofuel production, and thus offer new benefits for their inhabitants.

The time has come for the international community to recognize that drylands and
marginal lands, where nearly half of the world’s poor live, are not waste land. Rather, they
are potential areas for agricultural intensification for both food and energy needs. Let us
renew our commitment to reversing land degradation and desertification. Let us ensure that
the 10-year strategy adopted last year in Madrid is fully supported and implemented. On
this World Day to Combat Desertification, let us rededicate ourselves to this mission.

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