Desertification and drylands focus of this year’s World Environment Day

02 Jun 2006

QUANG TRI - “Drylands are found in all regions, cover more than 40 per cent of the Earth and are home to nearly 2 billion people -- one-third of the world’s population,” said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a recent statement. “For most dryland dwellers, life is hard and the future often precarious. It is essential that we do not neglect them or the fragile habitats on which they depend.”

“Don’t Desert the Drylands” is the theme of this year’s World Environment Day and Viet Nam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and the Quang Tri Provincial People’s Committee organized a National Celebration today for World Environment Day under the theme “Deserts and Desertification.”

“It is estimated that 9.34 million hectares of land in Viet Nam are degraded, that’s more than five times the area of Nghe An, Viet Nam’s largest province,” said United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Head of Environment Programmes, Mr. Koos Neefjes. “In the provinces of Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan, more than one third of the total land area will desertify without efforts to: live with the reality of droughts; adopt integrated river basin management and water conservation; move to integrated agro-ecosystems and; improve the sustainable water supply, especially to the rural poor.”

Quang Tri was selected as the location for the Environment Day observances to draw particular attention of the government and all Vietnamese people to the central coast region where people are encountering drought, sand-dune movement, land degradation, and poverty.

“Improper and inappropriate management of lands has led to degradation and desertification in various parts of Viet Nam. As a result, about 50% of the total 33 million hectares of natural land of the country has shown problems,” said the Minister of MONRE, Mr. Mai Ai Truc. “We need to initiate concrete actions to ensure sustainable land management, firstly by a full implementation and enforcement of the land law. I would like to request all authorities, sectors, associations, businesses and every individual initiate viable activities to eliminate land degradation and desertification.”

Every year the World Environment Day is celebrated by UN member states on 5 June. The main objective of these celebrations is to reaffirm the world’s commitment to environmentally sustainable and equitable development. It provides everyone with an opportunity to carry out activities that address environmental problems and issues within our own local context.

This year, Algiers, the capital of Algeria, has been chosen to host the world celebration. With its geography, history and culture inextricably bound with the world’s largest and best-known desert, the Sahara, Algeria is a good choice to highlight every facet of this complex environmental issue.

For more information on World Environment Day, visit: http://www.unep.org/wed/2006/english/index.asp

Contact Information

Mr. Dao Xuan Lai, Programme Officer,
Tel: 942 1495 Ext. 178, Email: dao.xuan.lai@undp.org

Dang Huu Cu, Public affairs Associate
Tel: 942 1495 Ext: 179; Email: dang.huu.cu@undp.org