UN CONVENTION TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION
In force from December 1996, Ratified by 145 countries
- establishment of a global legal framework
- creation of a system for exchanging information on ways to combat desertification
- principles that include a 'bottom-up' approach to ensure participation of local populations in combating desertification
- mobilisation of finances through bilateral and multilateral aid as well as the Global Environment Facility ( gef) .
- tackle structural issues like international trade, which lead to desertification. Desertification demands proper pricing of primary commodities, taking into account ecological costs
- mobilise adequate funding for programmes to control desertification. Innovative approaches have to be developed to raise a global fund
- implement the 'bottom-up' approach for developing national action programmes to combat desertification. Local governance and community empowerment are yet to become important principles guiding anti-desertification programmes in Southern countries.
The misuse of land and water in many parts of the world due to deforestation, agriculture, mining and urbanisation have led to large-scale land degradation in many parts of the world.
Although desertification is a local phenomenon, its occurrence can be traced to global trade and economic practices. For example, governments in poor countries encourage farmers to grow cash crops such as coffee, which generate foreign exchange to pay back national debt. But such crops also put an enormous strain on soil and water resources. If export prices of primary commodities exported by poor countries drop, there is a greater need to exploit more land.
Caught in a cycle of debt and production, farmers tax the soil until it eventually loses all its nutrients and can no longer sustain agriculture.
Desertification affects 41 per cent of the total land area on earth. The world's poor are the worst hit. They depend on the soil for a livelihood but do not have the resources to reverse desertification. The livelihoods of more than 1 billion people in more than 110 countries are jeopardised. According to 1998 estimates, desertification costs the world US $42 billion a year.
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