FAO Director-General calls for a new approach to combat desertification and drought

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A new approach is required to combat soil degradation, desertification and drought if we are to meet the growing demand for food to feed the world’s population, FAO’s Director-General QU Dongyu said on the occasion of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.

The Director-General said food production, distribution and trade are facing new challenges, particularly due to the COVID-19 outbreak and urgent action is needed to prevent land and soil damage.

“Business, as usual, is not an option. We need new approaches for land use to increase productivity while avoiding soil degradation, pollution and protecting ecosystems and biodiversity,” Qu said.

As the demand is increasing for food, animal feed and fibre for several uses, Qu noted that the productivity of existing arable land is declining.

More than 2 billion hectares of previously productive land is now degraded and drought and water scarcity have amplified the problem, according to FAO’s Director-General.

Up to 44 per cent of the world’s cultivated systems lands are in drylands, he added.

The Director-General was addressing a virtual event – RECSOIL: Recarbonization of global soils. RECSOIL initiative aims to provide support to farmers, to promote sustainable soil management and increase soil organic carbon stocks.

The Director-General was joined at the virtual event by Ibrahim Thiaw (Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) and Carlos Manuel Rodriguez (Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment and Energy).

It is worth noting that in 1994, UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) declared June 17 as the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought officially.