The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was adopted in 1994, and entered into force in 1996. To commemorate a decade of effort, the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2006 as the International Year of Deserts and Desertification (IYDD) in order to raise public awareness and to highlight desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.
Drylands cover more than 40 per cent of the Earth and are home to nearly 2 billion people -- one-third of the world’s population. Poverty, unsustainable land management and climate change are turning drylands into deserts, and desertification, in turn, exacerbates and leads to poverty. It is estimated that between 10 and 20 per cent of drylands are already degraded. The problem is particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where dryland degradation is a serious obstacle to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and is jeopardizing efforts to ensure environmental sustainability. The exacerbation of desertification also deeply concerns its far-reaching implications for the implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals which must be met by 2015.
IYDD will also celebrate the fragile beauty and unique heritage of the world’s deserts. The unique natural habitats with their incredibly diverse fauna have been home to some of the world’s oldest civilizations.