Worldwide Efforts to Combat Drought, Desertification to Take Shape in Namibia This Year

Efforts to tacle accelerating drought and desertification take shape this year an Namibia  Land degradation – more specifically drought and desertification – have become increasingly pressing problems for a growing number of countries around the world, threatening efforts to alleviate poverty, improve basic health and sanitation and address socioeconomic inequality, as well as spur agricultural and sustainable economic development.

The only multilateral, international agreement linking development and environment to sustainable land management (SLM), high-level representatives from 195 nations will be gathering in Windhoek, Namibia from September 16-27 for the 11th bi-annual Conference of Parties (COP) to review implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Meeting for the first time in southern Africa, UNCCD delegates will review implementation of the convention to date and plan for the ensuing two years of programs and actions.

One of the greatest challenges to sustainable development

Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity, were singled out as the greatest challenges to sustainable development at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Unfortunately, desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) have accelerated during the 20th and 21st centuries to date, posing fundamental problems and challenges for drylands populations, nations and regions in particular.

Severe land degradation is estimated to be affecting 168 countries around the world, according to a first-of-its-kind cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of the global effects of desertification released during the UNCCD Conference and Committee Meeting held this past April in Bonn, Germany. That’s up sharply from 110 as of a previous analysis of data submitted by UNCCD parties in the mid-1990s.

The resulting losses, in lives, human potential, biodiversity and ecosystems health and integrity are alarming. Resulting in the devastation of an area three times that of Switzerland every year, UNCCD analysts estimate that the annual costs of combating land degradation have reached $490 billion…and that’s only expected to increase.

Home to some 2 billion people, approximately 40 percent of the Earth’s land area is considered drylands. Due to a combination of human activities and natural forces – climate change now prominent among them – 10-20 percent are already considered degraded. The total land area affected by desertification is estimated to range between 6 million and 12 million square kilometers, putting the livelihoods and lives of a billion inhabitants at risk.

In the report, “The Economics of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought: Methodologies and Analysis for Decision-Making,”  UNCCD estimates the costs of land degradation to be between 3-5 percent of global agricultural Gross Domestic Production. Furthermore,  “the cost of siltation of water reservoirs is estimated at USD18.5 billion per year, and salinity in global agriculture at about USD12 billion per year.”

Combatting Desertification via Sustainable Land Management

Continual research, development and rapid implementation of sustainable land management practices are the keys to meeting the challenges DLDD poses, according to the UNCCD. Unfortunately, progress in this regard has been slow and halting. Commodities, other products and ecosystem services afforded by land and ecosystems being affected by DLD are not being valued accordingly, nor are government and private sector institutional frameworks geared towards addressing the issue comprehensively or effectively, experts assert.

Posing a fundamental threat to agricultural and broad, sustainable socioeconomic development, crafting and implementing sustainable land management policies cuts across all facets of a society and challenges long, and often strongly held attitudes, values and institutional frameworks. That makes the process of addressing DLDD awkward, cumbersome and difficult, posing varied, substantial and difficult-to-resolve trade-offs and conflicts of interest.

In the midst of carrying out a ten-year strategy to address DLDD and foster development and implementation of sustainable land management policies and practices, the UNCCD is marshaling the resources of member nations in an effort to combat DLDD through sustainable land management. Part and parcel of this global initiative, UNCCD is identifying, helping develop, implement and sharing effective policies and best practices.

“SLM and ecosystem restoration are the key to enhancing the resilience of systems that are vulnerable to DLDD,” the UNCCD CBA report authors state. “Effective policies need to be based on a good understanding of the challenges faced on the ground.

“Generally speaking, policies that have successfully addressed a transition to more sustainable land-use practices have used participatory approaches, responded to local perceptions and priorities, enjoyed adequate government and civil society backing, and promoted technical packages with low risk and strong economic incentives.”

Furthermore, they go on, “Addressing weak governance and policy-induced distortions that operate through markets to promote  land-degrading activities are arguably amongst the most efficient means of tackling land degradation in developing countries.

“Lastly, given a rising global demand for commodities built on an unsustainable price signal (e.g. wheat price speculations) that converts natural capital for free to provide food, fiber, fodder and fuel, finance must become more accountable for its impact on nature, creating opportunities for change.”

Image credit: iJuliAn, courtesy flickr

Andrew Burger
Andrew Burger
A product of the New York City public school system, Andrew Burger went on to study geology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, work in the wholesale money and capital markets for a major Japanese bank and earn an MBA in finance.

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  1. Worldwide Efforts to Combat Drought, Desertification to Take Shape in Namibia This Year 2013

    • Understanding your distress of the expanding of drought and desertification and its impact upon loss of bio-diversity and socioeconomic inequality it has occurred to me what we do in PRC since 2005 and in Australia to reverse deserts would be of interest to you.
    • Recognizing severe land degradation is estimated to be affecting 168 countries around the world. This and some other factors sees 2.5 billion people living in poverty and a serious number live below a quality existence.
    • Valuing the noble efforts of UNCCD marshaling the resources of member nations in an effort to combat DLDD through sustainable land management!
    • Supporting effective policies is needed to base a good understanding of the challenges faced on the ground. We propose the following based upon decades of hands-on expertise.
    We subscribe
    The world is a Bank a Bank of assets Soil Water Vegetation Atmosphere and as UNCCD in 2000 pointed out such are damaged 60%. While land reparation including desert reversal in Australia funding was a problem undertaking large plantings was not possible! In many cases migrating deserts has forced Australian Farmers from the Land.
    Our desert reversal work advising CBEX, NDRC, SME lecturing to Forestry, Agriculture, Science and Law universities in PRC since 2005 coupled with our role in leading in desert reversal qualifies us to propose the following.

    300yrs plus of LULUC resulting in land degradation and the non reparation witness the land decline to desert wherein poverty follows. The facts are the mass land clearing for cheap resources actually on an accumulative base emitted more CO2e than latter day industry. Yes there is established technology to scrub Nox Sox Mercury et al but there is no hard push to apply such. Keeping our case in the first instant to desert reversal and applying our work in growing soil food fodder and in time forestry (as soil expands) we would suggest the following. Our model sees impoverished Farmers from 2600m to 5 times sea salt deserts become self reliant contributing to community and self dignity. It is so simple we replicate Natures proven protocol

    Our expertise in all the above well planned could be applied in the 168 desert drought impacted nation. Also well planned UNFCCC 100yr rule carbon trading will grammatically lower CO2e.

    See tree both-visuals, no soil 120mm rain, growth 14months. 2-3yrs cabo/protein, Vincin / Farmers in Gansu Province PRC 2008
    A well trained Farmer supports up to 8 persons in the food chain! Carbon trading funds all. The only assets of Mankind and all living matter
    Soil-Water-Vegetation-Atmosphere, all else but commodities! Feed a man today feed him tomorrow, show him how to grow and manage the assets he feeds the world! 3.5billion people live in poverty restoring their land restores their life and that of their nations.
    We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive. Albert Einstein!


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