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Desertification claims 24b fertile land yearly, says UN

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The United Nations yesterday advised developing countries to urgently combat the effects of desertification, which, according to it, were worsening migration and food insecurity worldwide.

The global body reminded governments that the menace was posing a serious threat to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adding that 24 billion tons of fertile land were being lost yearly to desertification and related activities. UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated this in a message to mark the 2019 World Day themed, “Let’s grow the future together.”He stressed the need for a political will to address the malaise that affects the survival of many people globally.

According to him, desertification, land degradation and drought were major threats affecting millions of people worldwide, particularly women and children. Specifically, Guterres stressed that dry land degradation reduces the gross domestic product (GDP) in developing countries by up to eight per cent yearly, hence the need to urgently halt the trend.

He said protecting and restoring land for better use could reduce forced migration, improve food security and spur economic growth as well as help countries to address the global climate emergency.

Some 25 years ago, 197 parties adopted a landmark convention to mobilise global action against the issue.The UN forecasts that by 2025, no fewer than 1.8 billion people would experience absolute water scarcity and two-thirds of the world would be living under water-stressed conditions.

Restoring the soils of degraded ecosystems has the potential to store up to three billion tons of carbon yearly, it added.The land use sector represents almost 25 per cent of total global emissions and its rehabilitation and sustainable management are critical to combating climate change, the global agency further noted.

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Antonio Guterres
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