World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought: Date, Theme, Significance and Key Messages to Share

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Every year, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed on June 17 to make people aware about international efforts to combat desertification. 


The day is a special opportunity to remind everybody that “land degradation neutrality” can be achieved through co-operation among all the stakeholders.


What is Desertification?


Desertification, in simple words, is the degradation of land. It occurs because dryland ecosystems are highly vulnerable to several factors, including over-exploitation, inappropriate land use, over-grazing, political instability, deforestation, poverty and bad irrigation practices.


Significance of the Day


Globally, more than 20 per cent of the land is no longer productive. 75 per cent has been transformed from its natural state, predominantly for farming. This transformation in land use is happening at an exponential rate than at any other time in human history, and has accelerated over the last five decades. 


Desertification needs even more attention now. When the land ceases to be productive, natural spaces deteriorate consequently. Thus, carbon emissions increase and biodiversity decreases. 


Theme of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 2021


Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the theme for this special day is “restoration, land and recovery. We build back better with healthy land”. 


Message from UN Secretary-General


Message from UNEP Executive Director