The Star Early Edition - - JUNE IS ENVIRONMENT MONTH -

S the threat of drought

South Africa is still with us, it is im­port

ant to re­mem­ber the need to con­serve water and pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment from erosion and damage.

The United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly de­clared the World Day to Com­bat De­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion and Drought (WDCD) in 1994 to raise public aware­ness on de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion, land degra­da­tion and drought, as well as the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the UN Con­ven­tion to Com­bat De­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion (UNCCD).

This day been ob­served since 17 March 1995 to pro­mote public aware­ness about the in­ter­na­tional ef­fort to com­bat de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion and the ef­fects of drought in coun­tries, such as South Africa, that are prone to se­ri­ous drought and/or in­creased de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion.

South Africa, as a party to the UNCCD, has an­nu­ally co­or­di­nated the cel­e­bra­tion of the WDCD since rat­i­fy­ing the Con­ven­tion, through the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs.

The day has been ob­served to pro­mote public aware­ness re­lat­ing to in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion to com­bat de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion and the ef­fects of drought.

It is a unique oc­ca­sion to re­mind ev­ery­body that de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion can be ef­fec­tively tack­led, that so­lu­tions are pos­si­ble, and the WDCD can also be used as a tool to strengthen com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion and co-op­er­a­tion at all lev­els.

This year, the WDCD is be­ing cel­e­brated un­der the theme ‘Our land. Our Home. Our Fu­ture.’ The theme fo­cuses on the link be­tween mi­gra­tion and land degra­da­tion and cel­e­brates the power of land in giv­ing peo­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to build re­silient com­mu­ni­ties able to with­stand the im­pacts of de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion land degra­da­tion & drought, ex­ac­er­bated by cli­mate change.

The theme re­minds every­one about the im­por­tance of pro­duc­tive land for se­cur­ing food and gen­er­at­ing local em­ploy­ment, thereby con­tribut­ing to sus­tain­able land man­age­ment.

It also calls for ac­tions on the ground to ad­dress poverty and hunger, tack­ling in­equal­ity, em­pow­er­ing women and stim­u­lat­ing eco­nomic growth.

The 2017 WDCD will con­trib­ute to­wards the achievement of land degra­da­tion neu­tral world, which re­quires a par­a­digm shift in land stew­ard­ship: from ‘de­grade-aban­don-mi­grate’ to ‘pro­tect-sus­tain-re­store’.

This means co­op­er­a­tion among var­i­ous sec­tors that em­brace com­ple­men­tary man­age­ment op­tions in or­der to min­imise cur­rent land degra­da­tion; avoid fu­ture land degra­da­tion and fur­ther re­ha­bil­i­tate de­graded lands as well as restor­ing de­graded nat­u­ral and semi-nat­u­ral ecosys­tems that pro­vide vi­tal ben­e­fits to peo­ple.

In ru­ral ar­eas, where peo­ple de­pend on scarce pro­duc­tive land re­sources, land degra­da­tion is a driver of forced mi­gra­tion.

Africa is par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble be­cause more than 90% of the econ­omy de­pends on a cli­mate-sen­si­tive nat­u­ral re­source base, such as rain­fed, sub­sis­tence agri­cul­ture.

Sus­tain­able land man­age­ment of­fers young peo­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­come gen­er­a­tion from agri­cul­ture, food pro­cess­ing and tourism.

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