Each year, twelve million hectares of land are subject to desertification and drought.
Photo: J. Boethling

23.08.2013

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With more than 900 million people world-wide affected by chronic hunger, international action on soil conservation is urgently required. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) enjoys substantial support, and the author of this article demonstrates that it could play a key role as a global policy and monitoring framework in addressing land and soil degradation.

Healthy soil is an essential but largely overlooked natural resource. More than 99 per cent of food world-wide comes from soil ecosystems. Land, of which soil is a key component, not only provides food and raw materials, but plays a key role in regulating water and the global carbon budget, and is a valuable source of biodiversity.

Yet, each year, twelve million hectares of land are subject to desertification and drought. And about 20 per cent of the world’s cultivated areas are affected by land degradation. As of this year, 168 of the Convention’s 195 Parties have declared that they are suffering from desertification. But the tide is turning.

The Rio+20 outcome on desertification, land degradation and drought contained in The Future We Want has boosted political momentum to address the challenge globally by strengthening the UNCCD’s mechanisms and profiling land and soil in the post-2015 global development agenda.

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