The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year on 17 June, since 1994, to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. This 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. Few days ago, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 was launched and aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean.
As populations become larger, wealthier, and more urban, there is far greater demand for productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050, and lifestyles need to change. Fixing damaged ecosystems mitigates against climate change and bolsters nature’s defences against disasters and extreme weather events such as: wildfires, droughts, floods, and sand and dust storms. Restoring natural landscapes reduces close contact between wildlife and human settlements, creating a natural buffer against zoonotic diseases.
Hence, the 2021 Desertification and Drought Day theme is “Restoration, Land, Recovery” and it will focus on turning degraded land into healthy land. Restoring degraded land brings economic resilience, creates jobs, raises incomes and increases food security. It helps biodiversity to recover. It locks away the atmospheric carbon warming the Earth, slowing climate change. It can also lessen the impacts of climate change and underpin a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Assembly of Youth (WAY) aims to remind everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and co-operation at all levels. Over 70 percent of natural ecosystems have been transformed. By 2050, this could hit 90 percent. Every stakeholder plays important role in halting any further activity which could worsen the desertification that has already persisted in today world. It can help to end poverty, combat climate change and prevent a mass extinction.Avoiding, slowing and reversing the loss of productive land and natural ecosystems now is both urgent and important for a swift recovery from the pandemic and for guaranteeing the long-term survival of people and the planet.
We encourage participation of young people and youth organisation on schemes to fight desertification and land degradation by: planting trees in their communities, conducting land restoration activities, and part taking in nature based solutions for climate action initiatives. Let us unite our efforts to achieve a sustainable future and better tomorrow for all!