World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought


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We celebrate World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on June 17.



Photo credit, from top to bottom: Jared Verdi, Elliott Englemann, Ken Treloar.

Desertification and drought are issues of a global dimension in that they affect all regions of the world, and that joint action by the international community is needed to address them, particularly in Africa.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 17 June to be “World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought” by its resolution A/RES/49/115 adopted in December 1994. UNESCO provides scientific expertise through its International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and its Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB).

Dryland ecosystems, which cover over one-third of the world‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. 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 and affects the world’s poorest. The decisions we make every day on what to buy, eat, drink, wear and how to travel – all have an impact on land resources.

The World Day to Combat Desertification is observed every year to promote public awareness. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality (LDN) is achievable. The commemoration of the day is led by the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.


“UNESCO has provided support to its Member States to address drought-related challenges and management by enhancing human capacity, policy guidance and existing tools. This includes drought monitoring and early warning systems for local populations in Africa, the development of drought atlas and observatories to determine the frequency and exposure to droughts by local populations, as well as the assessment of socio-economic vulnerabilities and the development of drought indicators for policy-making in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

— Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

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How to get involved

International days are celebrations and calls to action. They are for everyone to participate in. This is how you can take part in an International Day in three simple steps.


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Why are International Days important? They provide unique opportunities to transmit UNESCO values to the world.


International days also provide a unique opportunity to engage citizens on global issues, to mobilise political will and resources to address these problems, but also to celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity as well as remember some of our darkest times as they guide us towards building a better world.

The United Nations International Days are for everyone, all around the globe. Because they are open, you can have an important role to play in them. NGOs, universities, schools, press and more will be putting together campaigns, events, and calls to action worldwide to provide further opportunities to engage, learn, and transmit the values and knowledge associated with each International Day. They serve as an important vehicle to connect the local to the international.

At their root, UN International Days contribute to the achievement of the purposes of the UN Charter and promote awareness of and action on important political, social, cultural, humanitarian or human rights issues. International days are at the heart of the United Nations Charter. They work to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.

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