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October 9th, 2017 / The Conversation

Today, dry areas represent more than 41% of land on the globe and they are home to more than two billion people.

They are the stage for the ongoing process of land degradation that is aggravated by climate fluctuations – particularly drought – and pressure exerted by human activities (including demographic growth and inappropriate management of natural resources). All of these factors strongly undermine the capacity of populations to adapt to an increasingly difficult environment.

In Africa in the 1970s, droughts had terrifying consequences in an already fragile context. The images of their effects still mark collective memory today. They were a determining factor in the holding of the United Nations Conference on Desertification in Nairobi in 1977.

Beyond recognition by the international community (since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, with the adoption of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), we also face the question of our understanding and evaluation of the desertification process, and of sustainable solutions to fight it. The recent inclusion of the concept of “neutrality” in terms of land degradation in the United Nations’Sustainable Development Goals makes the battle against desertification a major issue for development, (re)connecting societies and environments, and human well-being. Read more