UN official calls for global efforts to fight desertificationChina
Desertification, defined as the degradation of land in arid and dry sub-humid areas, is accelerating at an alarming speed and requires global efforts to prevent it, a UN official said Monday.
On the sidelines of a campaign to fight desertification, Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), stressed the importance of awareness of society and governments on the global scourge.
"We need a greater awareness at the level of world population and ordinary people need to understand that you must take responsibility," Gnacadja told Xinhua.
"In 10 years, we want the problem of dry land has a higher profile in schedules and budgets," he said.
Desertification is threatening the lives of more than 1 billion people in 100 countries, and may lead to the deterioration of more than 44 percent of global farming systems.
Areas considered by the UNCCD to be at risk of desertification are arid, semi-arid and sub-humid zones.
Land degradation, linked to loss of soil nutrients, is mostly caused by the unsustainable exploitation of land and climate change that brings more drought, said Gnacadja.
Up to 35 percent of the world's population, about 2.6 billion people, live in arid land covering 41 percent of the planet's surface. Most of these people are poor.
In Africa's sub-Saharan region, from 20 to 50 percent of the land is degraded, affecting more than 200 million people.
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