A little boy with his teddy on a soil affected by drought.
Extra 593 million hectares of agricultural land, an area nearly twice the size of India, will be required by 2050 over 2010 levels.
Photo:Avijit Ghosh / UNCCDD Photo Contest 2018

When the soil asks for help

Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations. Desertification does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts. It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of the world's land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land.

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels.

Even more specially these times, considering the COVID-19 situation. Actions based on the clear understanding of rights, rewards and responsibilities of land management can help address the COVID-19 fallout by tackling one of the primary environmental drivers of emerging infectious disease outbreaks. At the same time, strengthening the resilience of our food and water systems, can help reduce the effects of the pandemic on global poverty and food insecurity. Today, the motto “healthy land = healthy people” promoted by the Convention to Combat Desertification, is more true than ever.

 

2020 Theme: Food. Feed.Fibre. - the links between consumption and land

This year’s observance is focused on changing public attitudes to the leading driver of desertification and land degradation: humanity’s relentless production and consumption.

As populations become larger, wealthier and more urban, there is far greater demand for land to provide food, animal feed and fibre for clothing. Meanwhile, the health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, worsened by climate change.

To have enough productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050, lifestyles need to change. World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought,  under the slogan “Food. Feed. Fibre.” seeks to educate individuals on how to reduce their personal impact.

Hastag for Desertification and Drought Day

Download the logo

Access our material to spread our message on social media and other platforms. You will find our logo in several languages, including an animated version, as well as posters, banners, and other material to share.

Food, feed and fibre must also compete with expanding cities and the fuel industry. The end result is that land is being converted and degraded at unsustainable rates, damaging production, ecosystems and biodiversity.

Food, feed, and fibre is also contributing to climate change, with around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture, forestry and other land use. Clothing and footwear production causes 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, a figure predicted to rise almost 50 per cent by 2030.

With changes in consumer and corporate behaviour, and the adoption of more efficient planning and sustainable practices, there could be enough land to meet the demand. If every consumer were to buy products that do not degrade the land, suppliers would cut back the flow of these products and send a powerful signal to producers and policymakers.

In order to celebrate this observance and create awareness of this day, the UNCCD has prepared several activities: an on line event, a Youtube short film series related to the theme and the Contest Become #UNCCDLandHeroes, where young candidates propose a specific solution to limit the footprint that our production and consumption of food, feed and fibre leave on the land. The winner will be announced on 17 June.

 

Through international action and solidarity, we can scale up land restoration and nature-based solutions for climate action and the benefit of future generations.

Did you know?

  • Today, more than two billion hectares of previously productive land is degraded. By 2030, food production will require an additional 300 million hectares of land.
  • Over 70 per cent of natural ecosystems have been transformed. By 2050, this could hit 90 per cent.
  • By 2030, the fashion industry is predicted to use 35 per cent more land – over 115 million hectares, equivalent to the size of Colombia.

Special online UN event!

This year's global observance event, hosted by Korea Forest Service (KFS), will take place online, with a full-day programme featuring a variety of exciting events and international talent. The event will be broadcasted via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

You can see what other initiatives are happening in other countries to celebrate the International Day.

Basket of fruits and vegetables
Woman smiling with a basket of veggies and the slogan of the Observance Food. Feed. Fibre.

Visit the official website for the observance by the Convention to Combat Desertification. They have prepared not only a special online event, but also a short film series and campaign materials where you can find the logo in several UN official languages. They also offer more information about the theme and the background that explains the roots of the link between comsumption and land degradation.

 

Goal 15 logo

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares that “we are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations”. Specifically, Goal 15 states our resolve to halt and reverse land degradation.

 

A crowd of women sitting and laughing

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.