World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD)
World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, 17 June, was proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1994 (resolution 49/115). On that date, the same year, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was adopted. States were invited to devote the World Day to promoting awareness of the need for international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought, and on the implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification.
It aims to promote community and ecosystem resilience while improving the human condition particularly in dry lands. The decade 2010 - 2020 has been declared the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification (UNDDD).
In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 17 the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought to promote public awareness of the issue, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.
The 2017 World Day to Combat Desertification celebrations mark the powe the land holds in giving people an opportunity and a future to stay resilient on their home ground. The number of international migrants worldwide has grown 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 is a link between migration and development challenges, in particular, the consequences of environmental degradation, political instability, food insecurity and poverty. Losing productive land is driving people to make risky life choices.
In rural areas where people depend on scarce productive land resources, land degradation is a driver of forced migration. Africa is particularly susceptible because more than 90% of the economy depends on a climate-sensitive natural resource base such as rain-fed, subsistence agriculture. Unless we change the way we manage our land, in the next 30 years we may leave a billion or more vulnerabl poor people with little choice but to fight or flee.
Improving yields and land productivity will increase the food security and incomes of land users land and the poorest farmers. This, in turn, could preempt unnecessary movements of people, and reduce current and potential conflicts over scarce resources in degrading areas. Sustainable land management offers young people vast opportunities for income generation in sectors such as agriculture, food processing and tourism.
The slogan, “Our land. Our home. Our Future”, underlines the central role productive land can play in turning the growing tide of migrants abandoning their unproductive land into communities and nations that are stable, secure and sustainable, into the future.
South Africa has adopted the entire month of June to heighten awareness of environmental issues through various pertinent activities.
It is during the month of June that we also celebrate the World Oceans Day (WOD) and the World Day to Combat Desertification. WOD is also an initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme celebrated annually on June 8th, with an aim of raising awareness about the significance of the marine environment. The Day also promotes the role of the oceans and the importance of conserving and protecting the marine environment.
“On the 17th June we will also join our global partners in recognising and celebrating the World Day to Combat Desertification. The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCD) has been observed since 17 March 1995 to promote public awareness about the international effort to combat desertification and the effects of drought,” said Minister Molewa.