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World day to combat desertification: “Land has true value, invest in it!”

Land degradation and desertification have become global challenges. According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) reports, land degradation and desertification affect 1.9 million hectare of land and consequently affects the lives of 1.5 billion people. Annually 12 million hectare of land (size of Eritrea) turns to a barren land. Hence, 50% of the world farm land is affected by land degradation and desertification.

Eritrea, as part of the sub-Saharan Africa, has challenges related to drought, land degradation and desertification.

Eritrea’s strategy to neutralize land degradation is implemented through public mobilization in soil and water conservation as well as tree planting programs. So far, large scale programs have been carried out. To strengthen afforestation and soil and water conservation activities in a systematic and vigorous way, the Government of Eritrea declared a greening campaign in May 2006. Annually on May 15, the campaign gets evaluated by full participation of all relevant stakeholders.

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, comprising 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. SDG Number 15 urges countries to protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems while promoting their sustainability by implementing sustainable forest management, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation and stopping loss of biodiversity. Target 15.3 is aimed at “combating desertification, restoring degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and striving to achieve a land degradation-neutral world” by 2030. The indicator adopted to measure the achievement of SDG target 15.3 is “Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area “.

The twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UNCCD, held in Ankara, Turkey, in October 2015, approved target 15.3 of the SDGs and the concept of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) as a driving force for the implementation of the Convention and related Sustainable Land Management (SLM) initiatives. COP.12 invited all country parties to formulate voluntary targets for achieving LDN.

The Government of Eritrea adopted the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Programme (LDN TSP) voluntarily because it forms part of its continued efforts for sustainable land management.

The LDN development process in Eritrea employs various consultations with a number of relevant stakeholders . Working groups from relevant stockholders were established, available data and documents were collected and an inception workshop was held on 5th October 2016. Fallowing this, LDN baseline assessment was conducted, hotspots were identified, and LDN targets were set, while LDN transformative projects and programmes opportunities were also identified. The LDN baseline was technically validated by relevant stakeholders during a national workshop in 2017. Based on the mentioned processes, twenty three major hotspot areas, with a total area of 12,184,920 hectares (about 10% of the total area of Eritrea), have been identified to be addressed at a national level.

Specific targets to avoid, minimize and reverse land degradation are: improve productivity of 10,954 sq km of cropland by 2030, improve Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) stocks of 17,803 sq km in cropland and grasslands by 2030, rehabilitate 17,853 sq kms of degraded and abandoned land for crop production by 2030, halt the conversion of forests and wetlands to other land cover classes by 2025. Restoring 79 sq kms of indigenous forest land, increasing forest cover by 10% by 2030, reducing the rate of top soil loss (soil erosion) by 20% by 2030, estimating and increasing soil organic carbon by 10 tons per hectare in cropland have been achieved through SLM practices.

With the strong commitment of the Government and active involvement of communities, Eritrea will strive to achieve the Land Degradation Neutrality by 2030.

Ministry of Agriculture

  • Message by UNCCD Executive Secretary, Monique Barbut, on World Day to Combat Desertification

This year on World Day to Combat Desertification, we think about the real value of land.

Not just its economic value. Land is worth so much more than that. It defines our way of life and our culture- whether we live in the city or the villages. It purifies the water we drink. It feeds us. It surrounds us with beauty.

But rapid population growth and changing consumption patterns have generated excessive pressure on our finite land resources. This, in turn, has led to land degradation around the world. Globally, thirty percent of all land has lost its true value due to degradation. How can we meet our most basic needs – let alone our wants – when the amount of healthy and productive land is declining so dramatically?

The future looks bleak.

Fortunately, with changes in consumer and corporate behavior, and the adoption of more efficient planning and sustainable practices, there can be enough for all. Enough land to provide sufficient food and water for everyone. Enough to deliver the other goods and services we need and want from nature.

Difficult choices and trade-offs will be needed, including a commitment to change longestablished consumption patterns. But get the decisions right, and the future looks a lot brighter.

So, I would ask you: when you choose what to eat, what to wear or what to drive, think about how your choice impacts the land -for better or for worse.

We are all decision-makers. In our daily lives, our choices have consequences. And our small decisions can transform the world. Let us try and act accordingly.

Nature offers us many opportunities. Let us work together to transform the way we consume, produce, work, and live together without compromising our current or future social, economic or environmental security. Without compromising the land on which it all depends.

The Sustainable Development Goal target of achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030 is an important response to these challenges. And a pathway forward, together.

It will help us conserve and manage the land we have well. It will help us recover degraded lands; stop land grabbing; fight climate change; increase food production and provide clean water.

Support Sustainable Development Goal15.

Tell us how you plan to achieve the goal of land degradation neutrality. Our way of life- on land -depends on it.

17 June 2018

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