Ban says measured progress needed to halt and reverse land degradation

Drought in Namibia has resulted in crop failure. Photo: UNFPA

23 September 2013 – Urging a global paradigm shift towards land stewardship, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need to work with countries and local communities to protect and sustain the world’s fragile drylands and restore degraded land.

In his message to the eleventh Conference of Parties of the UN Convention on Desertification, Mr Ban said: “You meet as Namibia faces severe drought. The United Nations system stands ready to continue to support your efforts to mitigate its effects and build resilience.”

More broadly, he said desertification and land degradation threaten the livelihoods, well-being and sustainable development of at least 1 billion people. Further, climate change is already having an impact in the drylands of Africa.

Some areas have already seen temperature rise by 2 degrees Celsius. Long periods of drought, famine and deepening poverty continue to impoverish and depopulate vast areas.

In defining the post-2015 development agenda, the international community must make measurable progress “to halt and reverse land degradation, which threatens the livelihoods, well-being and sustainable development of at least 1 billion people,” read Mr. Ban’s message, which was delivered by Ms. Veerle Vanderweerd, head of delegation of the UN Development Programme.

During the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, world leaders acknowledged the threat of desertification, land degradation and drought in all regions, and especially for developing countries.

“Healthy land is a prerequisite for food and water security and necessary to avert political instability and to support climate change resilience and preserve valuable biodiversity,” Mr. Ban said.


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