NAIROBI, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- The UN on Monday launched the Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification (2010- 2020), an 11-year long effort to raise awareness and action to improve the protection and management of the world's drylands, home to a third of the world's population and which face serious economic and environmental threats.
The UN says desertification -- land degradation in drylands -- affects 3.6 billion hectares, which accounts for 25 percent of the Earth's terrestrial land mass. It threatens the livelihoods of more than 1 billion people in some 100 countries.
Using a 10-year strategic plan, the United Nations aims to raise awareness of the causes of, and solutions to, desertification and promote actions that will prevent further deterioration of the world's drylands.
As well as highlighting the serious risks posed by desertification, the Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification will also promote the importance of deserts and drylands to many communities across the world.
"Continued land degradation -- whether from climate change, unsustainable agriculture or poor management of water resources -- is a threat to food security, leading to starvation among the most acutely affected communities and robbing the world of productive land," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a statement announcing the launch.
"As we begin the Decade on Deserts and the Fight against Desertification, let us pledge to intensify our efforts to nurture the land we need for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and guaranteeing human well-being," he added.
While concerns about desertification are growing, it is not all doom and gloom.