UN agency says combating desertification is a must

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Stories by Laide Akinboade

ABUJA – Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Mr. Luc Gnacadja, said it is imperative for all nations in the world to intensify efforts in combating desertification.

Luc Gnacadja, stated this in a message he read at the commemoration of the World Meteorological Day, said over 2 billion people all over the world are living on dry land are faced with the scourge of desertification.

According to the Executive Secretary, “Climate for You,” which is the theme for 2011 World Meteorological Day, is a thought- provoking idea for the nearly 2 billion people living in the drylands. For a majority, it means an enduring struggle to combat land degradation, commonly known as desertification. And what in the past also entailed overcoming the impacts of drought from time-to-time is now become a recurrent challenge not only in frequency, but in scope and intensity as well.

Three decades ago, scientists raised the climate change alarm, warning that short of changing our consumption patterns, the intricate feedbacks between land, water and the climate would have significant impacts on the ecosystem and livelihoods, particularly in the drylands. At the ecosystem level, heavy precipitation events would lead to soil erosion. Droughts would be frequent, intensive and extensive, and the exposed soil would become infertile. Land degradation would follow, and then decreased land productivity. All these we have witnessed, most recently in Australia , Guatemala , Niger , Pakistan , Russia and the United States . Whether these are due to climate change may be debatable, but two things are certain. First, these developments occurred during and following the warmest decade on record and when the Earth had grown warmer over five decades.”

He noted that, it is not only the poor people in the world that are affected, the rich are also affected.

“ Both the rich and poor have suffered, and in many places, food insecurity, the loss of homes, livelihoods and habitats and forced rural-to-urban migration have followed. These impacts have hit the poorest populations, nations and regions hardest, entrenching them further into poverty and exposing many to increased political instability. Theirs is the smallest carbon footprint, but they are paying a particularly high price for it.”

In order to combat desertification and mitigating the effects of drought, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, he said has focused on strengthening national capacities for early warning in the developing countries, and at the sub-regional and regional levels. Two of the major lessons gained are that, first, a failure to address drought in the development planning process hampers the effective response to its impacts.

“ The UNCCD since 2009 is supporting important measures, such as the Great Green Wall for the Sahel and Sahara Initiative and Lake Chad, which not only significantly contribute to the global efforts to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought, but also aim to improve livelihoods, strengthen community adaptation to climate change and contribute to global welfare by absorbing the excess carbon in the atmosphere.

Sustainable development is a collective pursuit, and the most vulnerable among us, remains one of our weakest links to its attainment. And while urgent action is vital, the resources are limited, making the challenge enormous. Our collaboration over the years with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has greatly strengthened the scientific basis of our work. It has enabled us to close some of the obstacles to rapid information flow. Still, a lot remains to be done, and is achievable, if each of us steps up to do whatever we can to improve the lives of the weakest among us – a forgotten billion that lives in the drylands. Through our recently strengthened relationship with WMO, we will do our part.” He said

he commended the theme “Climate for You” to mark the World Meteorological Day this year, and congratulate the World Meteorological Organization for its tireless efforts to keep humanity forewarned of impending danger.

 

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