World Day to Combat Desertification Focuses Attention on Drought and Water Scarcity

World Day to Combat Desertification 201117 June 2013: Events to mark the 2013 edition of the annual World Day to Combat Desertification are focusing attention on the theme 'Don't let our future dry up.' The selection of the topics of drought and water scarcity seeks to take into account that 2013 is also the International Year of Water Cooperation. 

The Day is celebrated on 17 June to mark the conclusion of negotiations on the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and World Day to Combat Desertification 2013 has sought to create awareness about the risks of drought and water scarcity in the drylands and beyond, and to call attention to the importance of sustaining healthy soils as part of the post-Rio+20 (UN Conference on Sustainable Development) agenda and the post-2015 development agenda.

To mark the Day, the UNCCD Secretariat called on the international community to implement the agreements reached in March 2013 at the High Level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP), and to set up comprehensive national drought management policies.

In his message marking the Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the international community to "fulfil the call of last year's Rio+20 conference on sustainable development to avoid and offset land degradation."

A message from Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), noted that the "impact of climate change will increase water scarcity, increasing also the frequency of hydrological extremes," and highlighted the need to "renew our commitment to supporting inclusive and sustainable solutions to managing water resources in dryland areas."

Additional activities to mark the Day will include: the announcement of the winners of the 2013 Land for Life Award, which recognizes innovative community initiatives that can be replicated to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable and affected populations; and the announcement of Drylands Champions in Eritrea, Hungary, Kenya, Portugal and Thailand. [UNCCD News Release] [UN Secretary-General's Statement] [Land Policy & Practice Coverage of HMNDP] [UNESCO Message on World Day to Combat Desertification] [UN News Release]