World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 2020.

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.

UN, June 17, 2020

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 is specially these times considering situation the COVID-19.  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.

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 are 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 behavior 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.

Secretary General’s Message – 2020 

The health of humanity depends on the health of the planet.

And today our planet is sick.

Soil degradation affects some 3.2 billion people and human activity has transformed 70% of the world’s land.

But we can correct this trend and thereby solve very diverse problems, such as forced migration, hunger or climate change.

In the Sahel region of Africa, from Senegal to Djibouti, the Great Green Wall is transforming people’s lives and their livelihoods.

Restoring 100 million hectares of degraded land helps preserve food security, keep households afloat, and create jobs.

This type of initiative restores biodiversity, reduces the effects of climate change and increases the resilience of communities.

And, ultimately, the benefits they generate are ten times higher than the cost involved.

On the Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, I call for a new pact for nature.

By acting in solidarity at the international level, we can expand restoration to other lands and promote nature-based solutions to promote climate action for the benefit of future generations.

And so it will be possible to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind.

By acting in solidarity at the international level, we can expand restoration to other lands and promote nature-based solutions to promote climate action for the benefit of future generations. António Guterres   UN Secretary General.


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.

 Links  related

More resources

UNCCD 2020 Desertification and Drought Day

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 consumption and land degradation.

Sustainable Development Goal 15 – Land

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.

Why do we mark International Days?

International days 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.



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