More than 2 billion hectares of previously productive land is degraded. For Desertification and Drought Day on June 17, DW spoke with Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
DW: What do you want people to know about this year’s desertification day?
Ibrahim Thiaw: Despite COVID-19, we still need to eat. We still need to have clothes. We still need to feed our animals. And we still need the planet. The planet does not need us.
More than a third of the world’s land is vulnerable to exploitation that can lead to desertification. Where are some of the worst-affected areas?
If you consider the size of the land that is affected by desertification, Africa. But if you consider the number of people that are affected by land degradation, it is Asia. If you include the Americas, both north and south, 40% of land is affected by desertification or susceptible to be affected by land degradation. Europe is not spared either — we still lose a lot of soil here. And Europe has been more vulnerable to drought in recent years because of climate change.
We have one planet, so therefore there is no region in the world that is immune to land degradation or drought.
What do those areas have in common, are there some patterns there?
When you cause land degradation, you are affecting people’s lives: their health, the economy, their security. Land degradation is also having an impact on migration — we will see more migration because people cannot produce anymore in their land. So therefore, it is not biophysical only. It is social. It is economic. It is health. It is our well-being.
What are some steps people can take?
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