Photo: Burkina Faso: 20 000 trees are planted to create living hedges. Credit: UNCCD - Photo: 2017

UN Launches Campaign to Invest in Degraded Lands

By Rita Joshi

BONN (IDN) – The number of international migrants worldwide has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years – reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.

Behind these numbers, says the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), are the links between migration and development challenges, in particular, the consequences of environmental degradation, political instability, food insecurity and poverty.

The 2017 World Day to Combat Desertification (#2017WDCD) on June 17 will therefore look closely at the connection between migration and land degradation by addressing how local communities could build the resilience against existing multi-fold development challenges through combating desertification and land degradation.

UNCCD is mobilising global support with the rallying call: “Our land. Our home. Our Future.” The slogan draws attention to the central role productive land can play in turning the growing tide of migrants abandoning unproductive land into communities and nations that are stable, secure and sustainable, into the future.

The UNCCD has also released the campaign logo for use by any group, organization, government or entity that will organize a celebratory event for the Day. The new logo, designed by Beth Johnson, is an all-encompassing symbol of UNCCD’s endeavours.

It combines the key elements of the Convention in an elegant manner that can be instantly interpreted by an international audience. The elements are: the landscape representing land stewardship; the hand showing human presence; nature suggesting hope, progress and life; the circle symbolising an inclusive convention with global reach; the traditional UN laurel wreath demanding respect and demonstrating authority.

The backdrop to the new corporate logo is that following landmark decisions at COP 12 (conference of parties to the UNCCD) in Ankara, the UNCCD is set to become a driving force in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 15 “Life on Land” and target 15.3 on land degradation neutrality.

Desertification is a colossal aspect of drylands with global impact. By sustainably managing land and striving to achieve land degradation neutrality, the UNCCD will reduce the impact of climate change, avoid conflict over natural resources and help communities to thrive.

The global observance of the 2017 WDCD is scheduled in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Batio Bassiere, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Environment, Green Economy and Climate Change, said: “Since the early 1980s, we have been rehabilitating degraded land by building on our traditional techniques such as the Zaï or adopting new techniques that work, such as farmer managed natural regeneration. We intend to be land degradation neutral by 2030. We are hosting the global observance on 17 June because we want to show the world, what we have achieved and is possible in order to inspire everyone into action.”

Burkina Faso hosted the 2005 Heads of State Summit for the Sahel-Saharan countries where 11 states reached an agreement to restore degraded land on an 8000 kilometre stretch of land cutting across the Sahel. The initiative is popularly known as the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel.

Explaining the gravity of the situation, UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut said: “Migration is high on the political agenda all over the world as some rural communities feel left behind and others flee their lands. The problem signals a growing sense of hopelessness due to the lack of choice or loss of livelihoods. And yet productive land is a timeless tool for creating wealth.”

She added: “This year, let us engage in a campaign to re-invest in rural lands and unleash their massive job-creating potential, from Burkina Faso, Chile and China, to Italy, Mexico, Ukraine and St. Lucia.”

In her view, the possibility for success today is greater than ever before. “More than 100 of the 169 countries affected by desertification or drought are setting national targets to curb a run-away land degradation by the year 2030. Investing in the land will create local jobs and give households and communities a chance to live, which will, in turn, strengthen national security and our future prospects for sustainability,” Barbut added. [IDN-InDepthNews – 10 February 2017]

Photo: Burkina Faso: 20 000 trees are planted to create living hedges. Credit: UNCCD

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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