The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and cooperation at all levels. This year's slogan is "Our Land. Our Home. Our Future."
Desertification and the Sustainable Development Goals
Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations. Desertification does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts. It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of the world‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land.
Over 250 million people are directly affected by desertification, and about one billion people in over one hundred countries are at risk. These people include many of the world‘s poorest, most marginalized and politically weak citizens.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares that “we are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations”. Specifically, Goal 15 states our resolve to halt and reverse land degradation.
For more information please refer to the designated pages on the United Nations website and on the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification website.
Drought & desertification at IHE Delft
As IHE Delft is an integrated Institute for Water Education, the subject of drought and the resulting desertification is part of its curriculum, research and capacity development activities. Two larger IHE Delft projects that we want to focus on during the 2017 World Day to Combat Desertification are the CONNECT and the SCARCE project.
The CONNECT project organizes workshops to learn from water expert refugees currently in the Netherlands. The knowledge of the refugees with an agricultural or water management background from the Middle East and Nile Basin countries will lead to information on how to better deal with the water scarcity situation in the Middle East. Read more.
The SCARCE project addresses water scarcity caused by increasing population, refugee influx and climate change in the Middle East. It will build the local capacity at the Al-Balqa' Applied University, the University of Jordan, as well as the Jordan Water Authority by offering training courses and study projects focusing on improving the existing wastewater treatment plants and irrigation schemes in terms of design, operation and management. Read more.
Combat drought, join the GroundwatCH programme
Climate change is foreseen to affect freshwater availability globally, with several hotspots, among which many areas that currently already suffer periods of severe droughts and freshwater scarcity, such as the Mediterranean area of southern Europe and Northern Africa, northeast China, northern and south-western Latin America, large parts of Australia and the western United States, among others.
As the largest liquid freshwater reservoir on earth, groundwater has both a huge environmental and economic value, and will be an essential resource for adaptation to climate change and reduction of socio-economic vulnerability, particularly in regions where freshwater availability is highly variable and frequently limited.
Study these issues in the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Programme in Groundwater and Global Change - Impacts and Adaptation (GroundwatCH) programme. Refer to the website for more information.