World Day to Combat Desertification
Monday, 17 June 2013
The theme of the 2013 World Day to Combat Desertification is drought and water scarcity. Freshwater is valuable. Of all the water on Earth, only 2.5 per cent is freshwater. And of all this freshwater, the total usable supply for ecosystems and humans is less than 1 per cent. When demand for water exceeds available supply, it results in water scarcity. Drylands are particularly vulnerable to water scarcity. The projected intensiﬁcation of freshwater scarcity will cause greater stresses in drylands. While each person needs at least 2,000 cubic meters of water for human well-being and sustainable development every year, on average, people in the drylands have access to only 1,300 cubic meters.
The goal of the 2013 World Day to Combat Desertification is to create awareness about the risks of drought and water scarcity in the drylands and beyond, calling attention to the importance of sustaining healthy soils as part of post Rio+20 agenda, as well as the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
This year’s slogan, “Don’t let our future dry up” calls for everyone to take action to promote preparedness and resilience to water scarcity, desertification and drought. The slogan embodies the message that we are all responsible for water and land conservation and sustainable use, and that there are solutions to these serious natural resource challenges. Land degradation does not have to threaten our future.
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Water ‐ precious resource
Freshwater is valuable. Of all the water on Earth, only 2.5 per cent is freshwater. And of all this freshwater, the total usable supply for ecosystems and humans is less than 1 per cent. When demand for water exceeds available supply, it results in water scarcity. This is why the World Economic Forum, in their Global Risk Report 2013
, suggests that decreasing water supply is among the top five risks, both by likelihood and impact, that humanity faces over the next ten years.
Increasing water scarcity and drought, in part as a result of climate change, will have potential catalytic negative social and economic impacts on food security, energy availability, political stability
Freshwater is renewable, but depends on the continued healthy functioning of ecosystems. Some 70 per cent of the freshwater available globally is held in the soil and is accessible to plants, and only 11 per cent is accessible as stream flow and groundwater. Globally, agriculture accounts for at least 70 per cent of freshwater use, up to 90 per cent in some fast‐growing economies. But unsustainable agricultural practices pollute fresh water sources and cause land to become degraded. Land degradation in turn lowers water tables, resulting in water shortages and salt intrusion in coastal areas, and worsening the effects of drought on affected populations and ecosystems. It is predicted that the effects of desertification, land degradation and drought may expose almost two‐thirds of the world’s population to increased water stress by 2025