World can beat desertification

New York - Deserts keep growing around the world, but the process can be reversed if governments act in time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, Ban sounded the alarm, saying that 40% of the world's land - home to about two billion people - is arid or semi-arid.

"Let us resolve today to reverse this trend," Ban said. "Contrary to common perception, not all dry lands are unproductive," he added. "Timely action on our part can unlock these riches and provide a solution."

Desertification is a relentless danger. More than 12 million hectares are lost each year, which over a decade adds up to an area equivalent in size to the whole of South Africa, according to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Sometimes that means sands blowing out from the Sahara or similar deserts. But in many cases desertification simply means the drying up of land to the point where it is no longer agriculturally productive.

However, Ban said the battle is far from hopeless.

"Success stories abound: from restoring ancient terraces in the Peruvian Andes, to planting trees, to hold back the incoming Saharan sands... There are examples from all continents of reversing desertification and improving the productivity of the land," he said.

Instead of being lost forever, current dry lands can be made to deliver "national economic growth and sustainable human development".

"We can break the links between poverty and desertification, drought and land degradation," Ban said.

With the global population projected to hit as much as nine billion by 2050, food production is an ever growing challenge, noted the current president of the UN General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.

"The economic, social and human cost of desertification is tremendous," he said.

According to the UNCCD, the current famine in the Horn of Africa is a sober reminder that the food crisis, which first became apparent with the food riots in 2007, still lingers in many corners of the world, and may manifest at any time.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Are you going to keep wearing a mask following the announcement that it is no longer required under law?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
No ways, I'm done
5% - 5484 votes
Yes, I still want to be cautious
91% - 107153 votes
Only certain circumstances
4% - 4879 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.29
-0.4%
Rand - Pound
19.75
-0.4%
Rand - Euro
16.96
-0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.20
-0.3%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.6%
Gold
1,810.33
-0.4%
Silver
20.55
-0.9%
Palladium
1,948.15
-0.8%
Platinum
907.59
-1.1%
Brent Crude
116.26
-1.5%
Top 40
60,446
-1.8%
All Share
66,607
-1.7%
Resource 10
64,784
-1.5%
Industrial 25
79,299
-1.6%
Financial 15
14,790
-2.5%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE