World Day to Combat Desertification: Scientists, Politicians and NGOs Call Rio+20 to Secure Healthy Soils

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World Day to Combat Desertification: Scientists, Politicians and NGOs Call Rio+20 to Secure Healthy Soils

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Scientists, politicians and NGOs call for zero net land degradation at #Rioplus20 @UNCCD

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 12:00pm

(3BL Media) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  - June 19, 2012 - Scientists, politicians and civil society groups called world leaders, who will meet at Rio+20 on 20-22 June, to adopt a target to secure healthy soils and to halt land degradation.

The call came during the global observance event of 2012 World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) on 17 June in Rio de Janeiro, just a few days before the start of the Rio+20 Conference.  The event was held under the theme “Healthy soil sustains your life: LET’S GO LAND-DEGRADATION NEUTRAL”.

“Soil is like blood in our veins – without it nothing on the planet will survive”, said Director of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) Jan McAlpine. Nevertheless, each year globally 75 billion tons of non-renewable fertile soil is lost due to land degradation.
“By 2030, food demand will increase by 50 percent, water by 40 and energy by 35 percent. We need land to meet these needs, but if we go on with business as usual, we will meet none of them”, said Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Luc Gnacadja. “Therefore, this year’s theme of the Day calls on each of us to make a voluntary commitment to become land degradation neutral”. 
Achieving zero net land degradation is feasible, said Dennis Garrity, Executive Board Member of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and UNCCD Drylands Ambassador. Garrity recommended the implementation of national and local regeneration measures and a transformation towards climate smart agriculture systems.
Jochen Flasbarth, President of the German Federal Environment Agency, said that soil is inappropriately seen as a domestic issue and Alexander Mueller of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) noted that soil degradation is not just a problem in developing countries. According to Mueller, the United States of America are losing fertile soil at a very high rate for example.
Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), warned against viewing small local farmers, herders and foresters as contributors to land degradation. He said that empowering them through access to technology and finance will move them towards improved sustainable land use and livelihoods.
In a separate message on the Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the international community to ensure that a commitment to sustainable land management features prominently in the official outcome at Rio and in the wider mobilization for sustainability that will also be part of Rio’s legacy.  “Without healthy soil, life on Earth is unsustainable” Ban said.
The global observance event of the Day included round tables and discussions with high-level representatives from the Convention on Biological Diversity, FAO, IFAD, UNFF, World Meteorological Organization, Republic of Korea, European Commission and German Federal Environment Agency.
As part of the events in Rio to mark the Day, UNCCD and the reigning Miss Universe 2011, Leila Lopes, who is also the UNCCD Drylands Ambassador, announced the winners of the first Land for Life Award. The award, with a total prize fund of $100,000, recognizing innovations from around the world, went to community organizations in Haiti, Turkey and Uganda.


Ms. Wagaki Mwangi
UNCCD secretariat
Cell in Rio: +49-173-268-7593
Keywords: Environment | Energy | Environment | Events, Media & Communications | Luc Gnacadja | Responsible Production & Consumption | Rio+20 | Rio Conventions | Rioplus20 | UNCCD | World Day to Combat Desertification