Pakistan observes World Day to combat desertification


The day is observed every year on June 17, however, this year, due to Ramazan, it was held in July in Pakistan
Pakistan today marked World Day to Combat Desertification for awareness raising and sharing the vision to combat desertification in the country. Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLMP) and Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University (PMAS AAUR) Rawalpindi held a seminar on “Combating Desertification in Pakistan” and organized awareness walks and tree planting to commemorate the day. The day is observed every year on June 17, however, this year, due to Ramazan, it was held in July in Pakistan.
Addressing the audience at the seminar, Country Director, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan, Mr. Ignacio Artaza, who was the chief guest, emphasized to mainstream efforts for sustainable land management to combat desertification. He said, “Desertification is a global phenomenon, affecting the livelihoods of 900 million people across the five continents and representing a third of worldwide threats to biodiversity. It requires global attention and local action.”
Mr. Ignacio acknowledged efforts by the Ministry of Climate Change and Global Environment Facility. He appreciated Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLMP) for on-the-ground efforts to combat desertification in 14 districts in all four provinces of the country. He shared, “Environment and Climate Change Unit of the UNDP has been making pragmatic efforts to address the overall effects of climate change in Pakistan and specifically desertification through the SLM Programme.”, Ignacio said. He, particularly, appreciated engaging local communities in decision-making.
Prof. Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad, Vice Chancellor PMAS AAUR, highlighted the role university is playing for climate change adaptation in the country. He emphasized that such collaborative activities must be strengthened and taken forward to combat desertification in Pakistan. He also appreciated UNDP Pakistan and Ministry of Climate Change for taking the lead in sustainable land management through their joint programme, SLMP.
National Programme Director (SLMP), Mr. Ishrat Ali informed the audience that Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) was aware of the threats posed by desertification, land degradation and drought to environmental sustainability. He said, “SLMP is working on developing Integrated Sustainable Land Management Policies, Land Use Plans at district and village levels, and on ground interventions that aim for effective environmental management for combating desertification, land degradation and drought in Pakistan.” Earlier, Mr. Hamid Marwat, National Programme Coordinator (SLMP) briefed the audience about World Desertification Day and about SLMP approaches and interventions for better land management in Pakistan. He said, “The implementation of the programme will bring considerable financial benefits for the poor in dryland communities through sustainable management of their land resources.”
Prof. Dr. Sarwat N. Mirza, Chairman Department of Forestry & Range Management, PMAS Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, discussed desertification in detail and highlighted threats, challenges and opportunities in Pakistan’s context. Prof. Dr. Maqsood Anwar, Dean Faculty of Forestry, Range Management and Wildlife thanked the audience and other participants of the seminar for according importance to the critical issue of desertification and hoped that collaboration between academic and research institutions with specialized institutions like AAUR, UNDP, Ministry of Climate Change and SLMP will go a long way in desertification in the country.
SLMP is striving to achieve the long-term goal of combating land degradation and desertification in Pakistan to promote sustainable management of natural resources, restore degraded ecosystems, reduce poverty, and increase resilience to climate change.