Non – Aligned Movement: Taking Steps to Counter Desertification

Desertification is the persistent degradation of dry land ecosystems by variations in climate and human activities. Home to a third of the human population in 2000, dry lands occupy nearly half of earth’s land area. Across the world, desertification affects the livelihoods of millions of people who rely on the benefits that dry land ecosystems can provide. In dry lands, water scarcity limits the production of crops, forage, wood, and other services ecosystems provide to humans.
Dry lands are therefore highly vulnerable to increases in human pressures and climatic variability, especially sub-Saharan and Central Asian dry lands. Since most of the region affected by the problem encompasses the member states of the Non Aligned Movement, as such NAM members have recognized the economic and social significance of land particularly its contribution to growth, food security, and poverty eradication, and noted that the intensity of desertification land degradation and drought of most of arable land is a serious challenge to sustainable development globally, and more so severe in Africa.
NAM has expressed their concerns over the dust and sand storms in the last few years that have inflicted substantial damages to the socio-economic situation of the inhabitants, especially in Africa and Asia. To redress this environmental problem, the movement has called for recognized efforts and cooperation of member states at the regional as well as international levels to control and reduce the negative effects on human settlements in vulnerable region. In this regard, mention must be made of the initiative of the current presidency of Iran to host a regional ministerial environmental session on 29 September 2010, in Tehran, in which Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syrian Arab Republic, and Qatar agreed to cooperate to bring dust and sand storms in their region under control over the next five years.
To address desertification and its potential effects, a number of measures have been taken by the global community. The adoption of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is very significant. Non Aligned Movement has always extended its full cooperation to these measures and has taken the lead in the call for a convention for a more structured action through effectively balancing the changing dynamics of global environmental politics.
NAM leaders have constantly reaffirmed that addressing desertification must be an important component of the post 2015 development agenda. NAM firmly believes that the problem of food security cannot be delinked from sustainable development, and as such is connected to biodiversity, desertification and land degradation.
The movement has stressed the need to cooperate at the global and regional levels, with a view in preventing and managing dust storms and sandstorms, especially in Asia and Africa continent through the sharing of related information, forecasting and early warning systems. As a prominent member of NAM, India has taken cognizance of the problem and has stated that desertification of land is one of the greatest impediments to sustainable development.
As a signatory to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which focuses upon Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD), India celebrates World Day to Combat Desertification every year on June 17 since 1995 to promote public awareness of the issue, mobilize international cooperation for the implementation of the UNCCD.
The Indian Minister of State for Environment, Forests, and Climate Change , Mr. Prakash Javadekar addressing on “ World Day to Combat Desertification” on June 17 2014 remarked that said that desertification, loss of biodiversity along with climate change were the greatest challenges for the sustainable development. The desertification of land could be stopped or reverted through the integrated land use planning on landscape basis. Mr. Javadekar also stressed the importance of coordination among different stakeholders to address this pressing environmental concern.
Addressing desertification is critical and essential to meeting the Millennium Development Goals. The battle against desertification calls for long-term commitment and investment. Regional, sub-regional and country-level plans are necessary for Africa and Asia to reclaim deserts and restore them to fertile farmlands. Developing countries need to integrate their poverty eradication programmers with strategies to fight desertification. Collective action and coordination of actions can most effectively be achieved under the umbrella of the Non Aligned Movement – the largest collective grouping of the developing world.

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