Desertification and Drought Day 2024: “United for Land: Our Legacy. Our Future”

Mobilizing all generations in support of sustainable land stewardship is the focus of Desertification and Drought Day 2024, celebrated on 17 June, marking a pivotal moment in the global effort to combat land degradation and drought. Hosted by the Federal Republic of Germany through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Bonn, the event brought together changemakers from around the world under the theme “United for Land: Our Legacy. Our Future”.

This year’s event coincides with the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the sole global agreement dedicated to sustainable land management ratified by 196 countries and the European Union.

UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “The future of our land is the future of our planet. By 2050, 10 billion people will depend on this vital resource. Yet we are losing the equivalent of four football fields to land degradation every second.”

State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth said: “Healthy soils form the basis of our future. No matter whether we are talking about climate change, biodiversity loss, or food crises – soil quality plays a central role for meeting these global challenges. Soils retain water and allow trees and plants to grow. We will only be able to feed humankind and deal with the climate crisis and its impacts if we have healthy soils.”

Land degradation affects up to 40% of the world’s land and nearly half the world’s population, with the highest costs borne by those who can least afford it: indigenous communities, rural households, smallholder farmers, and especially youth and women.
More than a billion young people who live in developing countries depend on land and natural resources. Engaging youth in land restoration can create the estimated 600 million jobs needed in the next 15 years, contributing to both economic growth and environmental sustainability.

The event culminated in a series of announcements and commitments to promote sustainable land management. A new programme to train youth negotiators to become future decision-makers on land and drought issues was launched. In its first year, youth negotiators from more than 30 countries will receive training ahead of the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP16) to the UNCCD, to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in December 2024.

Bonn Mayor Katja Dörner, in cooperation with UNCCD, inaugurated the city’s first “land-friendly” school. This unique programme gives students the opportunity to learn about organic farming through both educational and practical lessons on the school’s farmland.

Countries around the world also organized Desertification and Drought Day events.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is an international agreement on good land stewardship. It helps people, communities and countries create wealth, grow economies and secure enough food, clean water and energy by ensuring land users an enabling environment for sustainable land management. Through partnerships, the Convention’s 197 parties set up robust systems to manage drought promptly and effectively. Good land stewardship based on sound policy and science helps integrate and accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, builds resilience to climate change and prevents biodiversity loss.

About Desertification and Drought Day
Officially declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994 (A/RES/49/115), Desertification and Drought Day, marked annually on 17 June, has the following objectives:

  • To promote public awareness of the issues linked to desertification, land degradation and drought
  • To showcase human-led solutions to prevent desertification and reverse intensifying droughts
  • To strengthen the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification