Press Releases

    SG/SM/10176
    ENV/DEV/870
    25 October 2005

    Greater Sense of Urgency Needed to Tackle Drought, Desertification Issues, Secretary-General Tells States Parties at Nairobi Meeting

    NEW YORK, 24 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, as delivered today in Nairobi by Hama Arba Diallo, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention:

    At last month's World Summit at the United Nations in New York, world leaders committed themselves to strengthening implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.  They agreed that more concerted action was needed to address the causes of desertification and land degradation.  And they pledged to mobilize adequate and predictable financial resources for this effort.  Your challenge now, as parties to the treaty and leading policy makers on the issue, is to seize this political will and continue pushing forward the implementation process.

    As you know, the General Assembly has designated 2006 as the International Year of Deserts and Desertification.  Such observances, if used creatively, can promote greater awareness of the issues, and can inspire stakeholders and donors alike to get more involved.  I urge you to consider ways to take advantage of this clear opportunity to advance your work.

    The degradation of more than one billion hectares of land has had a devastating impact on development in many parts of the world.  As farming and nomadic lifestyles have become unsustainable, millions of people have been forced to abandon their lands.  Hundreds of millions have been placed at risk of becoming environmental refugees.  These are large numbers, and all signs point to their growing ever larger unless we act.

    We must all do our utmost to prevent the expansion of deserts, to rehabilitate degraded lands, and to improve living conditions in the world's dry lands.  We must strengthen the capacity of poor people -- who are the most vulnerable and least able to bounce back when crisis strikes -- to cope with recurrent drought and natural disasters.  And we must, above all, bring a greater sense of urgency to this effort.  Please accept my best wishes for the success of your deliberations.

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