"When we protect and restore drylands, we advance on many fronts at once: we strengthen food security, we address climate change, we help the poor gain control over their destiny, and we accelerate progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals"
Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations on the occasion of the world day for combating desertification
In the last 25 years a quarter of the land surface of the Earth has become degraded. Land degradation is now a global problem that also affects Germany and Europe: firstly, parts of the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe are affected particularly by land degradation. Secondly, Europe obtains food and resources from countries where the productive land is being progressively destroyed.
However, the particular focus is on drylands. Here the consequences of desertification in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions are especially devastating for the people affected. Each year about 10 million ha of cropland are lost due to soil erosion, thus reducing the area available for food production.
The main cause of desertification and land degradation is over-intensive, unsustainable land use. Around a billion people live in rural dryland areas alone. Combating desertification acquires particular significance on account of the close linkages with global climate change, biodiversity loss and the resulting rise in food insecurity. The sparing use of resources and the sustainable development of drylands are the foremost goals of efforts to combat desertification, which then contribute to poverty reduction and the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ can bring to this effort its extensive experience in the international as well as local arena. Many prognoses show that land degradation can be combated successfully. Brazil is an example of combating desertification successfully. In the north-east of the country GIZ is supporting pilot projects which provide models for coping with desertification and climate change, as well as projects on sustainable forest management, alternative sources of income, sustainable water and soil management, and environmental education. These projects relieve the pressure on natural resources and at the same time have an impact on policies, while policy advice is simultaneously provided in the field