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World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought


Every year on June 17th, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is commemorated.

  • Desertification and Drought Day was organised by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) on this day.


GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of World Day to Combat Desertification and Droughts
  2. Understanding Desertification and Land Degradation
  1. What is Drought?
  2. About United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification:

Highlights of World Day to Combat Desertification and Droughts

  • It is a unique moment to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and cooperation at all levels.
  • Theme: Rising up from drought together.
  • It emphasizes the need for early action to avoid disastrous consequences for humanity and the planetary ecosystems. 


  • During the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the largest challenges to sustainable development were highlighted as desertification, climate change, and biodiversity loss.
  • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the only legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management, was established two years later, in 1994, by the General Assembly, which also declared June 17 as “World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.”
  • Later, in 2007, the United Nations General Assembly named 2010-2020 the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification, with the UNCCD Secretariat once again leading worldwide action to combat land degradation.

Understanding Desertification and Land Degradation

  • Land degradation is defined as decline in productivity of land in terms of biodiversity and economy, resulting from various causes, including climate and human dominance, leading to loss of ecosystem.
  • Desertification is a type of land degradation in which a relatively dry region becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its water bodies as well as vegetation and wildlife.
  • Land degradation and climate change fuel each other and land degradation reduces the soil’s ability to absorb carbon, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report.

What is Drought?

Drought is a period when there is a shortage of water availability due to inadequate precipitation, excessive rate of evaporation and over-utilisation of water from the reservoirs and other storages, including the ground water.

Types of Droughts
  • Meteorological Drought : It is a situation when there is a prolonged period of inadequate rainfall marked with loss distribution of the rain for long time
  • Agricultural Drought  : It is also known as soil moisture drought,  it is characterised by low soil moisture which is necessary to support the crops, thereby resulting in crop failures.
  • Hydrological Drought : It results when the availability of water in different storages and reservoirs like aquifers, lakes, reservoirs, etc. falls below what the precipitation can replenish.
  • Ecological Drought : it results When the productivity of a natural ecosystem diminishes due to shortage of water and as a consequence of ecological distress, damages are induced in the ecosystem.

About United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification:

  • UNCCD stands for United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
  • Established in 1994, UNCCC is a sole legally binding environment convention that links development and environment to sustainable land management.
  • The UN Convention to Combat Desertification aims to combat desertification and the ill effects of drought.
  • The UNCCD is a United Nations convention aimed at addressing desertification and droughts. 
    • It is a legally binding convention linking development and environment to sustainable land management.
    • The UNCCD addresses particularly the arid, semi-arid & dry sub-humid areas, called drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples are found.
    • The convention was drafted and opened for signing in 1994. It became effective in 1996 after receiving 50 ratifications.
    • The convention obliges national governments to take measures to tackle the issue of desertification.

The convention’s 2018 – 2030 Strategic Framework is a comprehensive international commitment to attain Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) aiming at:

  • The restoration of productivity of degraded land.
  • Enhancing the livelihoods of people dependent on them.
  • Mitigating the impact of droughts on vulnerable populations.

The convention focuses on having a bottom-up approach to achieve its goals, by involving the local communities.

  • The UNCCD is one of the three Rio Conventions, the other two being:
    • Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD)
    • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • The three Rio Conventions work in close collaboration with each other.

-Source: PIB, The Hindu

December 2023