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Desert Degradation

By Dave Armstrong - 21 Oct 2011 8:48:13 GMT
Desert Degradation

Crescent Lake at "Mingsha Shan" (the Singing Sand Mountain-Dunes) one of the lucky survivors ( for thousands of years, so far) of the Chinese sand seas via Shutterstock

We have all heard of Saharan and Arabian desertification. Now, after the Rio Earth Summit initiative in 1992, we have the Changwon Initiative from CST10 in South Korea. When UNCCD was established in 1994, 194 signatories verified it as the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment, development and the promotion of healthy soils. Now we are finally reaching overall action on the three greatest challenges to sustainable development with the fight against land degradation. (The other two are climate change and loss of biodiversity). CST10 (Committee on Science and Technology) is a subsidiary of UNCCD.

Even in Europe, many can see the deleterious effect of dunes on forest

Even in Europe, many can see the deleterious effect of dunes on forest (Above in Poland) via Shutterstock

Impact indicators have now been developed to look at trends in land degradation. Incredibly, in ten years, we lose an area of land equivalent in size to South Africa because of degradation. With a 70% increase in food production needed to feed the 2050 population of nine billion, we cannot afford to lose whole "countries" for agriculture. Combating this, we now have these two impact indicators that are mandatory from 2012. (The other seven indicators will be reported too and become compulsory in time.)

Land Cover Status and Proportion of Population above the Poverty Line

Scientific understanding and measurement of the processes causing land to degrade are the prime needs. The nine indicators use "tools" and methodologies that have been tested in eleven pilot countries. Professor Barron Orr of the University of Arizona's Office of Arid Land Studies said, "The pilotcountries tested a large set of metrics in an active way over a three month period and the big finding there is that they could do it, even though it was challenging, and there were capacity issues."

The Changwon Initiative extends the COP8 in Madrid in 2007 by initiating target setting Mr. Luc Gnacadja, the UNCCD Executive Secretary, seen below with Dr. Walter Ammann, President of the Global Risk Forum, GRF-Davos stated that the world must become "land degradation neutral" as soon as possible. The date set for this will be interesting!

Mr. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, UNCCD, and Dr. Walter Ammann, President of the Global Risk Forum, GRF-Davos, sign a memorandum of understanding on the organization of the 2nd UNCCD Scientific Conference to be held in 2012, under the theme, Economic <a href=assessment of desertification, sustainable land management and resilience of arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid area">

Mr. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, UNCCD, and Dr. Walter Ammann, President of the Global Risk Forum, GRF-Davos, sign a memorandum of understanding on the organization of the 2nd UNCCD Scientific Conference to be held in 2012, under the theme, 'Economic assessment of desertification, sustainable land management and resilience of arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid area'; Credit: UNCCD

Elsewhere, scientific institutions and educational opportunities are to be quickly established: "Now that the proposal is accepted by UNCCD Parties, watch out for a seismic shift in opportunities to access education and training in land management towards the affected regions," said Richard Thomas, Assistant Director (Drylands), United Nations University, Institute for Water, Environment and Health. People in developing countries affected take note.

NB. Drylands are home to some 2 billion people in nearly 100 countries. I make the figure two ninths of that world population.

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