Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the World Day to Combat Desertification, observed on 17 June:
Desertification, land degradation and drought are major threats affecting millions of people worldwide, particularly women and children. Twenty-five years ago, 197 parties adopted a landmark Convention aimed at mobilizing global action. Yet much remains to be done.
Every year, the world loses 24 billion tons of fertile soil. And dryland degradation reduces national domestic product in developing countries by up to 8 per cent annually. We must urgently change such trends.
Protecting and restoring land — and better using it — can reduce forced migration, improve food security and spur economic growth. It can also help us to address the global climate emergency.
On this World Day, let us recognize the imperative of combating desertification as part of our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.