Africa: Desertification Summit Ends With Promises to Restore a Billion Hectares of Land

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The COP15 summit in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, which was focused on desertification and its impacts, closed with commitments by 196 countries to restore one billion hectares of degraded land between now and 2030. They also agreed to enhance drought preparedness, response and resilience.

COP15 on the Convention to Combat Desertification, which opened on 9 May, is the first of the three Rio Convention meetings to be held in 2022.

Later this year, COP15 on the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP27), will be held in Kunming, China and Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, respectively.

Drought preparedness

Over the past 11 days, attendees heard, among other things, that in places where rainfall levels remain the same over the next 10 years, there will be more water evaporation and less water, especially if temperatures keep climbing.

“Even if rainfall stays the same, we’re going to have more drought events, because more evaporation will take place, irrigation channels will evaporate more, and plants will use more water. This is a problem,” Robert Stefanski, head of applied climate services division for the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) told RFI’s Jeanne Richard on the sidelines of COP15.

According to the WMO, an assessment carried out in 2014 estimated that exposure to dust particles caused about 400,000 premature deaths by cardiopulmonary disease in adult populations in areas suffering from desertification.

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