Desertification Among Central Challenges to Achieve MDGs
UNEP Executive Director Speaks of Land Degradation and Desertification at the High-level Segment of the UNCCD Meeting in Nairobi
Land degradation and desertification are among the central issues facing the international community if we are to meet the Millennium Development Goals and achieve a just, healthier and more stable world.
This concern was voiced by Klaus Toepfer, the Executive Director of UNEP, in his speech at the High Level Segment of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) which is currently taking place at the UN offices in Nairobi.
Addressing high-level delegates, Toepfer went on to highlight the fact that some 66 per cent of the African continent is classed as desert or drylands and that 46 per cent of Africa’s land area is vulnerable to desertification.
He welcomed the TerrAfrica initiative which was to be launched and of which UNEP is part. The initiative aims to leverage some $4 billion over the coming years in the cause of land degradation.
He warned that if land degradation continues, the targets and timetables from the World Summit on Sustainable Development agreed in 2002—to reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity- will be harder to achieve.
The Seventh Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 7) which also comprises the seventh session of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST 7) and the Fourth Session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 4) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) aims to take further concrete steps towards the implementation of the Convention with the participation of representatives of governments, NGOs, and international organizations.
Desertification, or land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas is a worldwide problem directly linked with poverty, hunger and forced migration that affects two thirds of the world’s agricultural land where the world’s poorest reside.