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Desertification on the march UN meeting hears

By Colin Ricketts - 20 Sep 2011 12:35:0 GMT
Desertification on the march UN meeting hears

Climate change and failures in land management are putting the two billion people who live on the world's driest land at risk a United Nations meeting will hear today.

The high-level meeting at the UN will be told that desertification and accompanying drought, famine and poverty is on the march at an increasingly high speed, taking over 12 million hectares of land out of agricultural each year. Meanwhile, the population of the planet is growing so fast that by 2050, when current projections suggest 9 billion people will be living, food production will need to be 70 per cent higher than it is now.  

The UN meeting of more than 100 leaders of nations and national delegations aims to push the use of science in developing new ways to tackle desertification which - along with climate change and lost biodiversity - was identified as one of the top three threats to a sustainable future at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

"The people who live in the arid lands, which occupy more than 40 per cent of our planet's land area, are among the worlds poorest and most vulnerable to hunger," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "Frequently, they depend on land that is degraded and where productivity has shrunk to below subsistence levels."

Technically, desertification doesn't mean the world will be covered by huge sandy wastes, but refers to the loss of productive agricultural land, which is just as threatening to the 2.3 billion people in 00 countries who live on dry lands.

"This high-level meeting will provide a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the global land degradation threat and the urgent need for stronger action," said UN Convention to Combat Desertification Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja said. "We are all at risk. Just 6-10 inches of top soil stand between us and extinction."

The UN says that fighting desertification can make an enormous impact on reducing world poverty and, with populations mushrooming, it's vital for all of us.

The UNCCD will meet for the 10th time on October 10-21 in Changwon, Korea, and the findings of today's meeting will be further discussed at the Rio +20 sustainable development conference in June next year.

Top Image Credit: Desertification © Sophiesourit