Statement on World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, today issued the following statement:
Today marks the anniversary of the 1994 adoption of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. The Convention seeks to address desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that spell out long-term strategies, which are supported by international cooperation. Dryland ecosystems cover more than a third of the world’s land area and are often subject to inappropriate land use and overuse, as people strive to meet the immediate food, water and energy needs of their families. We know that as land degrades, political instability, conflict and migration increase—with devastating consequences for the land and the people who live on it.
This year’s theme for World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, “Food. Feed. Fibre.” appropriately links public consumption habits to land use. As populations become larger and more urban, the demand for land increases to meet the demand for food, animal feed and fibre for clothing. This leads to a decline in the viability of arable land, which is made worse by more extreme climate conditions. While the COVID–19 pandemic has given people everywhere pause to reconsider their consumption habits, and humanity’s reliance on land for its well-being and health, we already know where there is work that needs to be done.
In developing countries, desertification affects women and girls disproportionately. Even though women produce 60% to 80% of food, they do not have equal access to land ownership, or the technology and financing that could help them become more climate resilient. A remarkable 20% to 30% of land has the potential to be restored through the use of sustainable practices.
To help address this, Canada is proud to provide $6 million to accelerate implementation of UNCCD Gender Action Plan, as announced by Prime Minister Trudeau in Senegal earlier this year. We must make sure that women’s needs, perspectives and knowledge help to shape solutions to this critical situation. And as we begin the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, we must make strengthening the resilience of the world’s food systems a key element of our efforts to reduce the impacts of drought and desertification and the effects of the COVID–19 pandemic on global poverty and food insecurity.