Desertification, exacerbated by climate change, represents the greatest environmental challenge of our times and governments must overhaul policy approaches to the issue or face mass migrations of people driven from degraded homelands within a single generation, warns a new analysis from the United Nations University.
In the analysis for presentation June 28 at UN Headquarters, New York, UNU experts say the loss of soil productivity and the degradation of life-support services provided by nature pose imminent threats to international stability. They outline a multi-point prescription for policy reform at every level of government.
It is imperative that effective policies and sustainable agricultural practices be put in place to reverse the decline of drylands, says Prof. Hans van Ginkel, UN Under Secretary-General and Rector of UNU.
Land use policy reform is urgently needed to halt overgrazing, over-exploitation, trampling and unsustainable irrigation practices, as are policies to create livelihood alternatives for dryland populations, he says.
Based on input of 200 experts from 25 countries convened in Algiers late last year, the analysis urges governments to adopt a broader, overarching view and a more coordinated, integrated and interlinked approach to dealing with desertification, climate change, poverty reduction and other public concerns.
It highlights dozens of problems and inconsistencies in policy-making today at every level, saying decisions are often taken in isolated sectoral silos, the end results of which, on balance, can be counterproductive.
Some forces of globalization, while striving to reduce economic inequality and eliminate poverty are contributing to worsening desertification. Perverse agricultural subsidies are one such example, says Prof. van Ginkel.
One-third of all people on Earth about 2 billion in number are potential victims of desertifications creeping effect.
Contact: Terry Collins
United Nations University