United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Desertification and drought
The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the
main international forum addressing these topics. The UNCCD
addresses these topics within the wider framework of land
degradation in drylands, which makes it relevant to many
more areas than the desert margins. The convention
consequently defines affected countries in all parts of the
world and 30% of global land area is considered as drylands.
The emphasis of the convention is however on Africa. A new 10
year strategic plan is a promising way forward for the
convention and provides strategic direction of activities
implemented within the framework of UNCCD.
Main operative messages
The following proposals are based on the understanding
that sustainable land management is key to secure food
? Build capacity for climate change adaptation and
disaster risk reduction, particularly in vulnerable
farmer and pastoralist communities, based on peoplecentred
activities that provide simple, cost effective
ways to reduce vulnerability and increase food
? Ensure a rights based approach, including land tenure
rights, and involve civil society actively in drylands
management and policy development
? Increase research on and scale up agricultural
techniques and approaches, such as conservation
agriculture and approaches based on traditional
knowledge, that can be adapted to dryland areas to
increase food security in a sustainable way. An
understanding of ecosystem services will be important
to develop such sustainable techniques and
? Prioritise drylands issues in national development
plans of affected countries in order to secure
ownership at the national level.
Land degradation, desertification and drought have serious
implications on food security, and even more so as 90% of
people who depend on drylands resources live in developing
countries with no or limited social safety nets. This
vulnerability is exacerbated in conflict areas like in Sudan
and Chad where major humanitarian disasters are happening.
Another factor exacerbating vulnerability in drylands
areas is climate change, which can amplify land
degradation processes and drought.
Norway has always supported UNCCD in working towards its
goal to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of
drought in countries experiencing serious drought and/or
desertification, particularly in Africa. This follows from a
traditional focus on Africa in our development cooperation
and from realising that drylands populations are
particularly vulnerable to drought and hunger caused by
environmental change. It is central to us that it is the
affected countries themselves who are best placed to
identify measures to combat desertification and mitigate
effects of drought. Our funding for such measures will
therefore always be based on national priorities, as in all
development cooperation.
Sustainable land management is the key to combating
desertification and mitigating effects of drought. Such
management will provide more resilient drylands
ecosystems that will be a basis for food production and
water provision thereby laying a foundation for social and
economic, as well as environmentally sound, development.
The role of civil society and local communities in
sustainable land management is central, as they are the
real resource managers. They must be involved in
processes and measures to combat desertification and
mitigate effects of drought.