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Land degradation and desertification undercut human rights: UN chief
On the occasion of World Day to Combat Desertification, 17th June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the world community to invest in soil.

"Land degradation and desertification undercut human rights, starting with the right to food. Nearly 1 billion people lack adequate nutrition, and those living off degraded areas are among the most affected. Their situation could worsen if land degradation, as projected, reduces global food production by 12 per cent by 2035," stated Ban in his message.

According to Ban, food security is also impacted by the decline in water resources.  Due to land degradation there is less water and snow being stored in the ground.  In 10 years, two out of every three people in the world could be living under stressed water conditions.

"If we do not change how we use our land, we will have to convert an area the size of Norway into new farmland every year to meet future needs for food, freshwater, bio-fuels and urban growth.  This would cause deforestation and other negative environmental impact," warned Ban.

Ban suggested that we needed to change course and start securing every hectare of land that can provide food or freshwater. 

"Land is a renewable resource, but only if we invest in land degradation neutrality, which has been proposed by United Nations Member States for the post-2015 development agenda.  We must avoid degrading more land and, at the same time, rehabilitate all the degraded land that we can.  Then, we will also be able to make rapid steps towards controlling climate change," he added.

Since our lives and civilizations depend on the land, let us invest in healthy soils to secure our rights to food and freshwater. In this regard, the observance is a unique occasion to remind everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and co-operation at all levels.

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