Working in the field in northern Kenya

UNCCD anniversary Germany to host 2024 Desertification and Drought Day

Press release 9 December 2023 | Germany will host the next Desertification and Drought Day on 17 June 2024, which will also mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), one of the three Rio Conventions alongside climate and biodiversity. The announcement was made today on the margins of UNFCCC COP28 underway in Dubai, UAE by Mr. Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, and Ms. Katja Dörner, Lord Mayor of Bonn and member of the Local Government for Sustainability (ICLEI) Global Executive Committee on Climate Action and Low Emission Development Portfolio.

Land is the foundation of human wellbeing and plays a key role in regulating the planet’s climate. Yet up to 40 per cent of the planet’s land is degraded, affecting nearly half of the world's population. Since 2000, the number and duration of droughts has increased by 29 per cent, representing a severe risk to ecosystems and peoples’ livelihoods.

The 2024 Desertification and Drought Day will focus on the transformative power of healthy land for addressing today’s most pressing and interconnected challenges, including climate change, biodiversity loss, food and water security – a blueprint for providing future generations with a healthy planet. The Day will amplify a renewed global commitment to sustainable land management and drought resilience in the run-up to UNCCD COP16, scheduled for 2–13 December 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, said: “Desertification and Drought Day 2024 will mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. In 1994, the world community set a sign by ratifying the only legally binding treaty promoting good land stewardship. Restoring degraded land and soil provides the most fertile ground to take immediate and concerted action for our planet's health. Now, it is time to reaffirm this global commitment by unleashing land’s potential – for present and future generations.”

The Federal Republic of Germany, through the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), will host the global observance on 17 June 2024. The event will engage prominent international and German personalities and the public at large to raise awareness about desertification, land degradation and drought.

Mr. Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development, said: “No matter whether we are talking about climate change, biodiversity loss, pandemics, or food crises – soil quality plays a central role for meeting these global challenges. Soils retain water and allow trees and plants to grow. We will only be able to feed humankind and deal with the climate crisis and its impacts if we have healthy soils. In 2024, when the UN Convention to Combat Desertification celebrates its 30th anniversary, the German government will be hosting the Desertification and Drought Day, thus sending a signal for strong international efforts against the loss of fertile soils.”

The City of Bonn, which has hosted the UNCCD Secretariat since 1999, will organise a series of events around 2024 Desertification and Drought Day. The City will play its part in highlighting the role of local governments in land restoration efforts, by displaying examples of sustainable land use practices linked to urban policies.

“We are also affected by land degradation here in Bonn – that's why it is so important to take joint countermeasures: by unsealing surfaces, by promoting organic farming, but also by integrating sustainable land management practices in urban policies. For example, in the concept of the water-sensitive city that we are currently developing, in nature conservation or in green space management. Bonn has been the home of UNCCD's Secretariat for 25 years. That's why we are particularly pleased to welcome the global observance of Desertification and Drought Day on June 17, 2024, in Bonn and to frame it with interesting activities for the broad public,” said Katja Dörner, Lord Mayor of Bonn, who was connected via video message in Dubai.

Officially declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994 (A/RES/49/115 (External link)) (External link), Desertification and Drought Day, marked annually on 17 June, is a unique occasion to highlight human-led solutions to prevent desertification and reverse intensifying droughts by investing in sustainable land use practices.

2024 will mark the 30th anniversary since the adoption of UNCCD, one of the three Rio Conventions. Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity, were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. With its 197 Parties, UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The Convention seeks to support countries to address desertification, land degradation, and drought. A remarkable journey from milestone initiatives such as Africa’s Great Green Wall, the largest living structure on the planet, to the establishment of Land Degradation Neutrality targets – a pledge by 130 countries to end land degradation by 2030.

Germany has been a strong supporter of the convention throughout its history. During the past 30 years, Germany has contributed politically and financially as one of the most active partners acknowledging the importance of healthy land and soil - both as a cause of and a solution to some of the most critical challenges for humanity these days.