People on a sand landscape tending to crops
In Faux-Cap, Madagascar, the dunes and their strong winds pose a threat to their crops. With the greenest weapons, its inhabitants worked for 120 days to secure 75 hectares of dunes. Once settled, the risk is over.
Photo:UNDP Madagascar

Restoration. Land. Recovery.

The 2021 Desertification and Drought Day to be held on 17 June will focus on turning degraded land into healthy land. Restoring degraded land brings economic resilience, creates jobs, raises incomes and increases food security. It helps biodiversity to recover. It locks away the atmospheric carbon warming the Earth, slowing climate change. It can also lessen the impacts of climate change and underpin a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly three quarters of the Earth’s ice-free land has been altered by humans to meet an ever-growing demand for food, raw materials, highways and homes. Avoiding, slowing and reversing the loss of productive land and natural ecosystems now is both urgent and important for a swift recovery from the pandemic and for guaranteeing the long-term survival of people and the planet.

Current commitments from over 100 countries specify the restoration of almost 1 billion hectares of land over the next decade – an area almost the size of China.5 If we restore this land, we can deliver massive benefits for people and the planet.

To celebrate the Day and become aware of our role, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has announced various activities and materials on its official website. Help us to achieve the restoration of our lands!

Logo for Desertification and Drought Day 2021

Download the logo and other digital materials

Access our material to spread the message on social networks and other platforms. You will find the logo of the International Day in several languages, an animated version of it, as well as posters, banners, videos and other content to share.

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.

The matter requires even more attention now. When the land degrades and stops being productive, natural spaces deteriorate and transform. Thus, greenhouse gas emissions increase and biodiversity decreases. It also means there are fewer wild spaces to buffer zoonoses, such as COVID-19, and protect us from extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and sand and dust storms.

The UNCCD is therefore calling on all members of the global community to treat the land as a limited and precious natural capital, prioritize its health in the pandemic recovery and push hard to restore the land during the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Everyone has a role to play because everyone has a stake in the future.

Did you know?

  • Nearly three quarters of the Earth’s ice-free land has been transformed, mainly to meet the demand for food, raw materials and human settlement.
  • Land degradation is negatively impacting the well-being of at least 3.2 billion people.
  • Land use change is the primary transmission pathway for emerging infectious diseases of humans, over 60% of which are zoonotic.

UN events in the fight against desertification

We invite you to attend and learn more about the problem we are facing through two United Nations online events.

illustration of a plane of desert with trees and a river

Related links

Tucan

Visit the official website of the International Day of the Convention to Combat Desertification. They have prepared a series of short films and campaign materials where you can find the logo in several official UN languages, as well as animated and static posts to share on your social networks. They can even help you publicize your event! If you are looking for more information on the subject of soil restoration and the problem we are facing, visit it.

Hands touching a tree trunk

World Environment Day launch the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030. This decade aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean. It can help to end poverty, combat climate change and prevent a mass extinction. It will only succeed if everyone plays a part. Find out more about ecosystems and the UN Decade, and join the global movement to restore our world.

illustration of people with clock, calendar, to-do list and decorations

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.