Desertification occurs when previously fertile land becomes desert through deforestation, drought, or improper agriculture. These areas are often home to some of the most vulnerable people and ecosystems. Many expert reports have also highlighted the link between the current pandemic and ecological damage. Desertification, along with the pandemic, is a double whammy on the poorest of the poor in the world, which sets us decades back in achieving our Sustainable Development Goals.

Since 1994, June 17th has been the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought to draw public attention to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and it has been celebrated ever since. The 196 parties to the convention try to improve living conditions for people in these areas by restoring and maintaining soil fertility and by mitigating the effects of drought. Current commitments from over 100 countries specify the restoration of almost 1 billion hectares of land over the next decade – an area nearly the size of China. If we restore this land, we can deliver massive benefits for people and the planet.


The Land for Life program was launched at the tenth UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP10) in 2011 in the Republic of Korea as part of the Changwon Initiative. The Program seeks to address the challenges of land degradation, desertification, and mitigation of drought. Every two years, the program presents the Land for Life Award, which aims to provide global recognition to individuals and organizations whose work and initiatives have made a significant contribution to sustainable development through sustainable land management (SLM). The Land for Life program is involved in various awareness-raising and knowledge support activities to provide information and sensitize the public about the importance of land for their life and for achieving the SDGs by 2030.

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Shristi Banerjee, 

Practising Advocate, High Court of Jharkhand (India)