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Two Decades of Global Recognition [1995-2015]: The Desertification and Droughts Challenge

DesertificationJune 17th marks the international commitment or anniversary of ‘World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought’. Started in 1995 via a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly and agreed with the objective to generate awareness for preventing desertification and to manage the impact of drought.

The year ‘2015’ marks two decades of worldwide recognition of desertification and increasing incidences of droughts as a critical challenge faced by humans and the surrounding environment and needing priority attention. This year the day will celebrate with a theme ‘Attainment of food security for all through sustainable food systems” and the slogan ‘No such thing as a free lunch. Invest in healthy soils’ and the efforts are led by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

The year ‘2015’ is also a crucial year for United Nations and its larger agenda on sustainable development. The post-2015 development era brings on board a huge task for all stakeholders, members and communities to successfully implement ‘Sustainable Development Goals (or SDG’s)’. Given this mammoth task at hand, it is imperative for all nodes of the society and the economy to identify with the understanding of land-water-food nexus (how one is dependent on the other and should not be addressed in isolation) in order to reduce vulnerability and achieve sustainability goals.

Symbolic days as this call for global attention to be mindful of multiple crises human and natural resources are experiencing in the form of severe extreme climate events: floods and droughts; how in turn these will impact availability of water resources to grow food, drive change in local land use practices especially in fragile drylands, may create a situation of food and water shortage.

Desertification and Droughts is also a lot about water calling for bridging the ‘lack’ and ‘scarcity’ gap with smart adaptation and pragmatic approaches to sustainable use. In that framework, United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) has long involved in steering scientific research and capacity development in drylands.

Our current initiative ‘The Economics of Land Degradation’ (ELD) generates a global study on the economic benefits of land and land based ecosystems. It highlights the value of sustainable land management and provides a comprehensive approach for the analysis of the economics of land degradation and linkages to food, energy and water security.

In parallel the capacity development program for sustainable drylands management: The Joint Master’s Degree (MSc) Programme on Integrated Drylands Management has completed a decade of successful operation since 2005. Active since 2005, this program has brought varied experts, resources and scientific data & information to build innovative human capital who can take a leading role to connect global knowledge for local solutions.

The program provides an opportunity for young professionals and scientists to gain international experience while developing skills in leading initiatives on integrated resources management and a unique opening for experiential learning while working on impact-driven research projects. Furthermore, the programme provides a global outlook on pragmatic approaches for managing dry areas drylands, with hands on experience in different dryland countries.

In line with SDG Goal 17 that identifies capacity building as a core means of implementation for the development targets and as a token of celebration for this day– UNU-INWEH launches the call for the ‘tenth’ term of its  Joint Master’s Degree (MSc) Programme on Integrated Drylands Management. We encourage all YPARDians to take advantage of this opportunity and join the mission to generate social and public consciousness on wider consequences of Desertification and Drought.

Browse details at:

or Contact:

MSc Programme Committee 
United Nations University 
Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) 
204 – 175 Longwood Rd. South
Hamilton, Ontario L8P 0A1 Canada 
Fax: +1 905 667 5510 
Email: contact.inweh@unu.ed 

Picture credit: © Blue Jean Images/Corbis