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World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

Publication Date: 
Thursday, June 15, 2017

South Africa ratified the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in 1997 to promote international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought. World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is commemorated annually on 17 June. This year’s theme, ‘Our land. Our home. Our future.’ speaks volumes to the central role productive land can play in turning the growing tide of migrants abandoning unproductive land, into communities and nations that are stable, secure and sustainable into the future.

Contact Person

Dr Jean-Marc Mwenge Kahinda

jmwengekahinda@csir.co.za

South Africa ratified the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in 1997 to promote international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought. World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is commemorated annually on 17 June. This year’s theme, ‘Our land. Our home. Our future.’ speaks volumes to the central role productive land can play in turning the growing tide of migrants abandoning unproductive land, into communities and nations that are stable, secure and sustainable into the future. The theme resonates closely with a Global Environment Fund project that the CSIR has recently commenced with. The project, which is titled, ‘Securing multiple ecosystems benefits through sustainable land management in the productive, but degraded landscapes of South Africa’, seeks to reduce the costs of ecological restoration in the country and increase the productivity of the land.

“This requires an innovative approach to sustainable land management and entails capacity enhancement of government, institutions and local communities to mainstream sustainable land management into policies, plans and programmes; and implementing climate-smart ecosystem rehabilitation and management measures,” says CSIR senior researcher and project leader, Dr Jean-Marc Mwenge Kahinda. One of the first deliverables for this project will be a strategy for upscaling sustainable land management practices within the Olifants River landscape.

Kahinda explains that the project outcomes will contribute to the reduction of land degradation and improve ecosystem services in the Karoo, Eastern Cape and the Olifants River landscapes.

Land use in South Africa is a major driver of land degradation, often negatively impacting ecosystem goods and services. The primary cause of degradation is inappropriate soil management practices related to agriculture, which accounts for over 80% of South Africa’s land use. South Africa’s long-term vision is to establish a green economy underpinned by healthy, functioning ecosystems. Finding solutions to land degradation and achieving sustainable land management is central to achieving this goal.

“Investing in the land will create local jobs and give households and communities a fighting chance to survive, which will, in turn, strengthen national security and our future prospects for sustainability,” says Monique Barbut, the United Nations’ top advisor on combatting desertification and drought.