When: Monday, 17 June, 10:00-12:00hrs
Who: Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
Where: NH Hotel Gent Belfort, Ghent, Belgium
The World Day to Combat Desertification, which is held every year on 17 June, is taking place worldwide today, with the global observance being held in Ghent, Belgium. Mr. Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, will deliver the keynote address at the Conference on Desertification and Land Degradation, announce the winners of this year's Land for Life Award and unveil a new programme, the Drylands Champions.
Droughts are natural disasters, but unlike other disasters, they set in slowly, therefore, they are predictable and can be mitigated. And yet, they affect more lives than any other disaster – more than earthquakes and hurricanes combined. With climate change, droughts are projected to increase in intensity, in frequency and in their spread. But only one country in the world has a comprehensive national drought policy.
The theme for this year's observance is drought and water scarcity to draw attention to this situation, what can be done, and how communities are leading the way.
Parallel observances are taking place in Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Hungary, Namibia, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Thailand and South Africa, among other countries. A special observance is also planned in Bonn, Germany, at the Global Media Forum.
For more information on the Day, visit: http://www.unccd.int/en/programmes/Event-and-campaigns/WDCD/WDCD2013/Pages/default.aspx?HighlightID=168
About the UNCCD
Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity, were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Established in 1994, UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment, development and the promotion of healthy soils. The Convention's 194 signatory Parties work to alleviate poverty in the drylands, maintain and restore the land's productivity, and mitigate the effects of drought.
About Land for Life Award
The Land for Life Award aims to recognize leadership in sustainable land management. The problems of land degradation are extensive. Every year 75 billion tons of fertile soils are lost, threatening global food supply, biodiversity and the livelihoods of millions of people. But solutions exist. The Land for Life Award is the only global award that recognizes the achievements of communities, scientists, policy makers and organizations working to restore degraded lands and improve soil's natural health and productive capacity.
About UNCCD Drylands Champions
The Dryland Champions Programme aims to generate increased engagement by individuals, organizations and businesses to promote grassroots action at local and national levels. By showcasing "best in class" examples of effective and creative approaches, the programme recognizes agents of change towards sustainable land management. The programme is implemented by the UNCCD national focal point ministries who receive applications and identify their own national champions. The UNCCD secretariat receives the list of Dryland Champions from these countries and recognizes them globally on 17 June. The programme started this year.
About UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification
With more lands around the world facing increasing deterioration and degradation, the United Nations General Assembly declared the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification, which runs from January 2010 to December 2020 to promote action that will protect the drylands. The Decade is an opportunity to make critical changes to secure the long-term ability of drylands to provide value for humanity's well being.
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