Desertification refers to degradation of land in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas due to an array of factors. The direct impact of desertification is reduced biodiversity. The reasons are many such as climatic changes such as drought, or human such as overgrazing. Desertification is recognized as a major threat to biodiversity and consequently leads the countries to develop plans to counter its impacts.

The opposite term (antonym) of Desertification is Oasification. In oasification, soil and nutrient harvesting are regarded as fundamental component parts in the reclamation process of a degraded land. This is a limited application technique and does not work to combat desertification as the area threatened is usually very large.

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

Desertification is a major economic, social and environmental problem of concern to many countries in all regions of the world. In 1977, the United Nations Conference on Desertification (UNCOD) adopted a Plan of Action to Combat Desertification (PACD).

In 1991, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) concluded that the problem of land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas had intensified, although there were “local examples of success “. So the question of how to tackle desertification was still a major concern for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

The Rio Summit supported a new, integrated approach to the problem, emphasizing action to promote sustainable development at the community level. It also called on the United Nations General Assembly to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INCD) to prepare, by June 1994, a Convention to Combat Desertification, particularly in Africa. In December 1992, the General Assembly agreed and adopted resolution 47/188.

On 17 June 1994, on the basis of direct recommendation of Agenda 21, “United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa” was adopted in Paris.

  • UNCCD is the only convention that was directly recommended by Agenda 21 of the Earth Summit.
  • It was adopted on June 17, 1994 and came into force in December 1996. June 17 is observed as world day to combat desertification and drought
  • Its first COP was held in 1997. Ninth COP was held in Argentina in 2009.
  • It has 193 parties.
  • The permanent Secretariat of the UNCCD was established during the first Conference of the Parties (COP 1) held in Rome in 1997. It has been located in Bonn, Germany since January 1999.