Desertification

My dear friends and readers, these past two months have been very busy. I spent most of my time reading academic articles, browsing book titles and speaking to people about interesting research topics. My aim was to find an environmental issue which I could study from an International Relations point of view. It is my great pleasure to tell you that I have settled for a topic I deem very intriguing and important – desertification. When speaking about desertification most people will logically think of deserts in Sahara or Gobi. But that is not quite the reality, desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) is not limited to deserts only, on the contrary it affects the whole world. Here are some quick facts:

  • The total population of the world’s drylands is 2 billion, excluding deserts.
  • Drylands support 50 % of the world’s livestock and comprise 44 % of all cultivated land.
  • The majority of the world’s dryland population is in developing countries.
  • The largest dryland areas are in Australia, China, Russia, the US and Kazachstan.

Given my academic background in International Relations, I will study how the issue of desertification links itself to climate change. To be able to do that I will analyze the relation between two important conventions – United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In the recent years, climate change has been receiving incredible attention from all possible stakeholders including politicians, businesses, universities and NGOs. Given the seriousness and complexity of the issue, this approach is understandable, but why is not more attention given to other important environmental problems such as desertification or loss of biodiversity? How can these neglected issues cope with the climate change mainstreaming? Many questions come up with just a few answers to them.

I think that one of the strategies for the overshadowed environmental issues to get more attention and finances is to link its own agenda to the agenda of climate change by showing that my problem is related to your problem, so let’s solve it together! But that is only my assumption, for the time being I have to find out how and why the linkage between desertification and climate change happens. The ultimate goal of my thesis is to point to the importance of desertification as an environmental and developmental issue and hopefully contribute to the academic discussion of the linkage politics.

On a side note, I wanted to tell you that this week I attended a three-day conference (CRIC 13) on the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Bonn, Germany. It was an amazing experience to meet the people from the Secretariat of the Convention, Ministries of Party States and NGOs. I feel so grateful for having the opportunity to observe the meeting and speaking to the staff and concerned  parties. What an invaluable experience!

I realize that this blog post was more about my activities than about initiatives in the world, but hopefully it illuminated the importance of DLDD and the need to fight it.

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