Monday, July 2, 2007

Don't ignore Desertification

The UN University in Bonn, Germany, has recently released a report drawing attention to desertification as a mounting environmental crisis. Desertification occurs as a result of overexploitation of the land by unsustainable irrigation practices and is compounded by the devastating effects of climate change on arable soil.

The study warned that lack of arable land may displace over 50 million people within the next 10 years. And not only that, but 1/3 of the world's population - concentrated in the poorest regions - are also potential victims.

What can be done: The report urges synchronization of development and environment priorities at the national level. The study suggests that sustainable management of drylands is the most important step that can be taken now. One approach is providing alternative livelihoods to dryland dwellers. The study's lead author, Zafaar Adeel explains, "we need to provide alternative livelihoods [to dryland dwellers]- not the traditional cropping based on irrigation, cattle farming, etcetera - but rather introduce more innovative livelihoods which don't put pressure on the natural resources."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is one of the UN Environmental Program's initiatives to assess the impact of different aspects of climate change. It is then up to policymakers to incorporate this information into the national agenda.