Desertification Current Affairs - 2020

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December 5: World Soil Day

The World Soil Day was endorsed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2013. It was officially adopted through a resolution at the 68th UN General Assembly. Since then every year, the World Soil Day is marked on December 5 by the United Nations all over the world.

Theme: Stop Soil Erosion, Save our Future


The day is marked focusing on the Sustainable Development Goal 15 which is “Life on Land”. The goal aims at protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, combat desertification, manage forests, reverse land degradation.


According to the United Nations, Desertification, Land Degradation are the two major issues of soil loss. According to UNCCD, desertification is defined as degradation of dry land eco systems by human activities due to overgrazing, unsustainable farming, clear cutting of land, mining and climate change.

International Union of Soil Sciences

The concept of World Soil Day was first introduced by the IUSS in 2002 to celebrate the importance of soil. The IUSS was founded in 1924. There are more than 86 national and regional members. It acts as a hub of soil scientists and a platform to promote all branches of soil science and its applications.


The World Soil Day highlights on the problems of population expansion. It aims at reducing soil erosion and maintain soil fertility. The theme of 2019 focuses on challenges in soil management. It encourages organizations, communities and governments to work towards improving soil health

Why was December 5 chosen?

The late king of Thailand King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the main proponent of the initiative. Therefore, his birthday December 5 was chosen as World Soil Day.

Soil Conservation

The day also stresses on the importance of Soil Conservation. The FAO recommends Terrace farming, Contour ploughing, windbreaks, crop rotation, Agrostological measures, green manures, no-till farming, earthworms to conserve soil and prevent soil erosion.

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India to restore 50 lakh hectare of degraded land by 2030: Environment Minister

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar announced that India has set target to restore 50 lakh hectare of its degraded land by 2030. He made this announcement at curtain raiser event for 14th meeting of Conference of Parties to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP14) to be held in India for first time from September 2-13, 2019. India will take President of COP14 for two years from China.

Announcements made

29% land of India’s total geographical area is degraded which has to be restored and will be the agenda of COP14 summit.

Centre of excellence to combat desertification of fertile land will be set up at Forest Research Institute (FRI) in Dehradun. It will study the causes of desertification and devise solutions and technologies for land degradation neutrality. It will also function as resource and training centre.


It will be held from 2 to 13 September 2019 at India Expo Centre & Mart, Greater Noida. 12 day event will be attended by over 5000 participants, including 3000 international delegates from 196 countries. Nearly 200 countries have confirmed their participation in this mega event.

About United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

It had entered into force in December 1996. It is one of three Rio Conventions along with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). India became its signatory in October 1994 and ratified it in December 1996.  It is only legally binding international agreement to address problem of land degradation, desertification and other land issues.

Main objective:

(i) To combat desertification and mitigate effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought or desertification.

(ii) To involve long-term integrated strategies in affected areas, for improving productivity of land, and rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable management of land and water resources, leading to improved living conditions, in particular at community level.

Features: Its 197 parties work together to-

(i) improve living conditions for people in drylands

(ii) mitigate the effects of drought

(iii) maintain and restore land and soil productivity.

It is committed to bottom-up approach by encouraging participation of local people in combating land degradation and desertification.

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