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World Day to Combat Desertification

An event at FAO highlights the benefits of mainstreaming sustainable land management policies and practices

FAO’s Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources Maria-Helena Semedo addresses the audience.

17 June 2014, Rome - Sustainable land management increases both community and ecosystem resilience while improving the human condition, particularly in the dry lands, a FAO event celebrated on the occasion of World Desertification Day highlighted today.

“We need to adequately and urgently address Desertification, Land Degradation and drought to achieve our ambition of ending hunger and poverty, and to ensure sustainable natural resources management,” said FAO’s Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources Maria-Helena Semedo.

Focusing on ecosystem-based adaptation in order to increase the attention given to land and soil within climate change adaptation and mobilize support for sustainable land management, the event “Land for Life – How Sustainable Land Management can Improve People’s Livelihoods and Resilience” took place at the margins of the 149th session of the FAO Council.  

Under the slogan, ‘Land Belongs to the Future, Let’s Climate Proof It’, the 2014 World Day to Combat Desertification  highlights the benefits of mainstreaming sustainable land management policies and practices into our collective response to climate change.

“This theme is a timely reminder of the potential of ecosystem-based adaptation as a strategy for coping with the impacts of climate change, especially in the dry lands,” Semedo noted.

The event also aimed at the inclusion of land and soil and their significance to food security into national climate change adaptation policies.

Quoting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for this day, Semedo stressed how “land degradation, caused or exacerbated by climate change, is not only a danger to livelihoods but also a threat to peace and stability.”

The Deputy Director-General also highlighted the potential for change.  “Through concerted efforts, sustainable land management could contribute to world peace and security,” she said noting the example “some communities in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger and Mali have proven by recovering more than 10 million hectares of degraded land.”

“Let us take inspiration – she appealed - from these and other examples and protect and nurture the land for this and future generations.”

The Government of Italy, FAO and the Global Mechanism (GM) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), also celebrate the new Office of the GM of the UNCCD at FAO, which is hosting the GM Programme on “Liaison – Land, Security and Resilience (LLSR)”. “I am convinced that this will further enhance effective cooperation and add value to our capacities to deliver,” FAO Deputy Director-General added.

Semedo urged for action on the ground with a range of multi-stakeholders and re-commited FAO’s technical assistance towards Sustainable Land management.