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Make Healthy Land Central in All Planning, Urges Secretary-General, in Message for World Day to Combat Desertification, Drought

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Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, observed on 17 June:

Humanity is waging a relentless, self-destructive war on nature. Biodiversity is declining, greenhouse gas concentrations are rising, and our pollution can be found from the remotest islands to the highest peaks.

We must make peace with nature. The land can be our greatest ally. But the land is suffering. Land degradation from climate change and the expansion of agriculture, cities and infrastructure undermines the well-being of 3.2 billion people. It harms biodiversity and enables the emergence of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.

Restoring degraded land would remove carbon from the atmosphere. It would help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change. And it could generate an extra $1.4 trillion in agricultural production each year.

The best part is that land restoration is simple, inexpensive and accessible to all. It is one of the most democratic and pro-poor ways of accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

This year marks the start of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. On this International Day, let us make healthy land central to all our planning.