Food. Feed. Fibre.: 2020 World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

June 17, 2020

Photo: UNDP Pakistan

17 June is the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought Day.  This year’s observance is focused on changing public attitudes to the leading driver of desertification and land degradation: humanity’s unsustainable production and consumption patterns.  

Today, more than two billion hectares of previously productive land, which is essential to provide food, (animal) feed and fibre, have been degraded worldwide. Yet, one-third of all food produced each year is lost or wasted, while close to one billion people are undernourished.

The health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, worsened by climate change. Meanwhile, almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions comes from agriculture, forestry and other land use. By 2030, food production will require an additional 300 million hectares of land, and the fashion industry is predicted to use 35 per cent more land – over 115 million hectares, equivalent to the size of Colombia.

The first edition of the Global Land Outlook (2017) stresses that informed and responsible decision-making, improved land management policies and practices, and simple changes in our everyday lives, can help to reverse the current worrying trends of land degradation. 2020 Desertification and Drought Day provides a unique opportunity to rethink about what we eat and what we wear and how our personal decisions impact on ecosystems, biodiversity and climate change.   

"Plants and animals provide most of our food, clothing and footwear. This means that food, animal feed and fibre for clothing all compete for productive land, which are all growing due to the population growth and increasing global middle classes," the Director of the UNDP Global Policy Centre on Resilient Ecosystems and Desertification (GC-RED), Anne Juepner, responded to the interview by the Star Kenya.

A long-lasting positive change is required in both consumer and corporate behaviors to ensure that there could be enough land to meet the demand. UNDP is supporting the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) 2018-2030 Strategic Framework through the provision of capacity building and policy solutions to land degradation, and supporting countries to design practical interventions for sustainable land management, sustainable value chain management and climate action.  This support is designed to help countries achieve the strategic objectives of the Framework and help them meet their Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Targets by 2030 in direct support of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 “Life on Land” as well as other related SDGs.