Background

Acknowledging that desertification and drought are problems of a global dimension in that they affect all regions of the world and that joint action by the international community is needed to combat desertification and drought, particularly in Africa, the General Assembly declared 17 June to be "World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought" by its resolution A/RES/49/115 adopted in December 1994.

The purpose of this World Day is to promote public awareness of land degradation and to draw attention to the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). To maximize its impact, the UNCCD Secretariat invites all States, civil society organizations, international and non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to draw attention to land issues and educate the public about effective methods of achieving Land Degradation Neutrality through the publication and diffusion of documentaries and the organization of conferences, round-table meetings, seminars and expositions relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought.

Why June 17? It is the date on which the General Assembly adopted the Convention to Combat Desertification, the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. It addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.

The Convention’s 195 parties work together to improve the living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought. The UNCCD is particularly committed to a bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation. The Secretariat facilitates cooperation between developed and developing countries, particularly around knowledge and technology transfer for sustainable land management.

As the dynamics of land, climate and biodiversity are intimately connected, the UNCCD collaborates closely with the other two Rio Conventions; the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to meet these complex challenges with an integrated approach and the best possible use of natural resources.