Spain to host the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 2022

News - 10.6.2022

Madrid will host the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. Spain, as host country in 2022, and through the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) and in collaboration with the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), has organised a conference to take place on 16 and 17 June to commemorate this key date in the fight against this global problem.

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought aims to raise awareness of these environmental problems and to demonstrate that it is possible to combat them effectively. Spain is committed to mitigating the effects of land degradation and is finalising the National Strategy to Combat Desertification.

This year's event is being held under the theme "Overcoming drought together" and focuses on the urgency of adopting policies and measures at local, regional and global levels to avoid the effects of desertification and drought, as well as to build societies that are more resilient to these environmental problems.

The World Day event, to be held at the Reina Sofía Museum on Friday 17 June, will bring together national and international experts and political leaders, who will address different measures and solutions to tackle this major challenge from a political, scientific and social perspective.

The meeting will be attended by António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations; the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez; the Vice-President and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera; the Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, Ibrahim Thiaw; the European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius; the President of COP15 on Desertification and former Minister of Forests and Water of Ivory Coast, Alain-Richard Donhawi; and the climate activist and founder of the PaTree initiative, Patricia Kombo.

A panel discussion on national and international success stories in drought mitigation and adaptation will also be held on the same day, in addition to a high-level panel on drought policies and their components and the role of science in relation to risks under different climate change scenarios.

Gastronomy to alleviate desertification

Also within the framework of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, the meeting "How can we contribute through gastronomy to alleviate desertification?", organised by the Biodiversity Foundation of MITECO in collaboration with the Basque Culinary Center and Casa África and Casa Árabe in Madrid, will be held on Thursday 16 June.

The event will be held at Casa Árabe's headquarters and will be divided into two parts: a round table bringing together several experts to discuss the impact of desertification on food, followed by a tasting of products with a low water footprint in Casa Árabe's gardens to raise awareness of the effects of this environmental problem on our daily lives.

A global problem

Desertification is defined as land degradation in drylands and has significant economic, social and environmental impacts, such as loss of land productivity, increased depopulation in rural areas and loss of biodiversity. Although the causes of desertification are varied, they are mainly driven by climate change and the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources.

Between 1900 and 2019, droughts affected 2.7 billion people worldwide and caused 11.7 million deaths. Moreover, current scientific forecasts predict that droughts will increase in number and could affect more than three quarters of the world's population by 2050.

Desertification is ultimately expected to lead to the irreversible deterioration and availability of the land-based natural resources soil, water and vegetation, limiting the development opportunities and living conditions of the populations concerned.

Spain, at risk of desertification

Spain is no stranger to the reality of droughts and desertification, which also affects many other countries in the world, with 74% of its territory susceptible to desertification.

The most arid climates in Spain, such as those found in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula, the eastern Canary Islands and, to a lesser extent, the Ebro Valley and areas of the southern Meseta, could spread to other regions. Natural areas such as the Ribera de Navarra, the landscapes of the Regional Park of the southeast of the Community of Madrid, the island of Menorca, the Special Area of Conservation of El Piélago, and the climate of the micro-reserve of Salar de Agramón in Albacete, will see an average rise in temperature of 1.5ºC and a decrease in precipitation of up to 14% between now and 2065.

Non official translation