Countries pledge to work together in implementing UN treaty on desertification

Countries pledge to work together in implementing UN treaty on desertification

More than 400 government representatives have pledged to strengthen cooperation in the implementation of a United Nations treaty to fight desertification, as a two-week discussion on ways to improve action against the spread of drylands wrapped up today in Rome.

More than 400 government representatives have pledged to strengthen cooperation in the implementation of a United Nations treaty to fight desertification, as a two-week discussion on ways to improve action against the spread of drylands wrapped up today in Rome.

"The conference enabled governments to identify and share best practices that can successfully tackle the problem of both desertification and poverty," said Hama Arba Diallo, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). "It will serve countries to streamline their policies as they are now either preparing their national action programmes or starting to implement them."

During the first meeting of the Committee to Review the Implementation of the UNCCD, case studies presented by governments highlighted the link between desertification, food security and poverty. Delegates called for integrating anti-desertification programmes into national development strategies in order to tackle both desertification and poverty in dryland rural areas.

The Convention, which came into force in 1996 and has 185 parties, is the only binding international legal instrument to address the issue of desertification and recurring droughts.

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), desertification affects more than 110 countries worldwide and threatens the livelihood of over 1.2 billion people. If left unchecked, arable land is expected to shrink by one-third in Asia, two-thirds in Africa and one-fifth in South America, exacerbating food insecurity, economic loss and mass migration from dryland rural areas where the world's poorest reside.