World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

Quick Facts - NZ

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2024 Date17 June 2024
2025 Date17 June 2025

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

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World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought seeks to raise awareness about the serious consequences of land degradation and the importance of restoring degrading lands for the betterment of the environment and human livelihoods. This day highlights the challenges faced due to deforestation, unsustainable land use, and climate change, urging countries to take collective action to address these pressing issues. Across the globe, various activities and programs are conducted to educate people about the importance of healthy land for sustainable growth, livelihood, and food security.

Though New Zealand is not directly battling desertification, World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought holds a crucial significance for Kiwi communities. Recognized originally by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994, this day urges countries like New Zealand, with its unique ecosystems and natural resources, to contribute to global efforts in combating land degradation. The preservation of healthy New Zealand soil, as well as the country's contributions to global reforestation initiatives, are critical in fighting the adverse impacts of desertification elsewhere. By mitigating such impacts, New Zealand supports regions struggling with the loss of agricultural lands, reduced water resources, and climate change consequences.

To mark this day, various events including seminars, workshops, and conferences are held throughout New Zealand, where environmentalists, scientists, and policymakers convene to exchange ideas and strategies aimed at combating desertification around the world. Additionally, tree planting campaigns, beach clean-up drives, and events engaging schools and communities are conducted to instill environmental consciousness and the importance of sustainable land management. World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed annually on June 17th, underlining New Zealand's consistent commitment to fostering a greener and more sustainable planet.

Facts about World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

  • It is estimated that land degradation and desertification contribute to about 10-20% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • It is estimated that the global annual cost of land degradation due to desertification is around $42 billion, including the loss of agricultural productivity and ecosystem services.
  • Approximately 3.2 billion people, or about 40% of the global population, are affected by land degradation and desertification.
  • The 2007-2009 drought in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions was considered one of the worst droughts in New Zealand's history, resulting in losses of over NZD 2.8 billion (USD 1.9 billion) in agricultural production, reduced hydroelectric generation, and severe water restrictions for the affected regions.
  • According to the Ministry for the Environment, some eastern regions of New Zealand could face up to 80% increases in the frequency of drought by the end of the century.

Top things to do in NZ for this observance

  • Learn about the UN's great green wall initiative. Once finished, it will become the largest living structure on the planet.
  • Watch several short films on desertification and drought.
  • Watch a documentary to learn more about drought in New Zealand. Here are our top picks:
    1. Living Water (2018)- This documentary by filmmaker Michael Tait covers the effects of drought and how local farmers are learning to think and act more sustainably in a rapidly changing environment.
    2. New Zealand - Struggle for Water (2017)- Produced by the South China Morning Post, this documentary covers the challenges faced by New Zealand's farmers who are struggling with a changing climate, water scarcity, and a growing demand for their products.
    3. Tapped Out (2017)- This investigative documentary by Television New Zealand looks at the growing crisis of water scarcity in the country, focusing on the effects of droughts and the water bottling industry.
  • Read a book to learn more about desertification in New Zealand. Here are our suggestions:
    1. Hydrology and Water Resources of New Zealand by Mosley, M. Paul – This book provides an overview of New Zealand's hydrology and water resources, discussing drought and water scarcity in the country.
    2. Climate Change and the New Zealand Agriculture Sector by A. Reisinger, J. Clarke – This book focuses on the impacts of climate change in New Zealand, particularly those on the country's agricultural sector, discussing the challenges posed by desertification and droughts.
    3. Desertification and Land Degradation in New Zealand, by M. T. Sekhon – This paper, published in the journal Land Degradation & Development, examines land degradation in New Zealand and discusses the process of desertification.

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