Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Day to Combat Desertification Celebrated

Today is the World Day to Combat Desertification. Though this may not get the attention of such days as Flag Day (Monday), Chinese Dragon Boat Festival Day (yesterday), or Father's Day (this coming Sunday), this is an important subject that deserves our attention.  The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) entered into force in 1996. It calls for international cooperation to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought.

The process of changing grasslands into desert can be incredibly destructive to the societies that live there, and there is clear evidence that in extreme situations, it can cause conflict. The best example of that is in Darfur. Jeff Mazo explains how this happened in an excellent chapter in his book "Climate Conflict". Darfur can be delineated as a conflict between agriculturalists and pastoralists. As rainfall decreased, and the Sahara expanded, these two groups came into conflict over land rights. This led to the beginning of a destructive war. As quoted by Mazo's book, UNEP said "There is a very strong link between land degradation, desertification and conflict in Darfur."

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