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The United Nations brings together experts and political leaders in Madrid to discuss measures to combat desertification and drought

The conference is organised through the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge in collaboration with the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
UN gathers experts to address desertification and drought measures

AP/BEN CURTIS  -   UN gathers experts to address desertification and drought measures

Madrid will host the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. Spain, as host country in 2022, has organised, through the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) and in collaboration with the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), a conference on 16 and 17 June to commemorate this key date in the fight against this global problem.

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought seeks to raise awareness of these environmental problems, as well as to demonstrate that it is possible to combat them effectively. Spain is committed to mitigating the effects of land degradation, and is finalising the National Strategy to Combat Desertification.

This year's event is celebrated under the theme "Overcoming drought together" and focuses on the urgency of adopting policies and measures at local, regional and global levels to avoid the effects of desertification and drought, as well as to build societies that are more resilient to these environmental problems.

The World Day event, to be held at the Reina Sofía Museum on Friday 17, will bring together national and international experts and political leaders who will address, from a political, scientific and social perspective, different measures and solutions to tackle this major challenge. The meeting will be attended by António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations; the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez; the Vice-President and Minister for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera; the Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, Ibrahim Thiaw; the European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius; the President of COP15 on Desertification and former Minister of Forests and Water of the Ivory Coast, Alain-Richard Donhawi, and the climate activist and founder of the PaTree initiative, Patricia Kombo.

A panel discussion on national and international success stories in drought mitigation and adaptation will also be held during the day, as well as a high-level panel on drought policies and their components and the role of science on risks under different climate change scenarios.

Naciones Unidas reúne a expertos para abordar medidas contra la desertificación y la sequía
REUTERS/ZOHRA - UN gathers experts to address desertification and drought measures
Gastronomy to alleviate desertification

On the other hand, as part of the celebration of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, the meeting "How can we use gastronomy to help alleviate desertification?" will be held this Thursday the 16th, organised by the MITECO's Biodiversity Foundation in collaboration with the Basque Culinary Center, Casa África and Casa Árabe in Madrid.

The event will be held at Casa Árabe's headquarters and is divided into two parts: a round table discussion bringing together several experts to address the impact of desertification on food, followed by a tasting of products with a low water footprint in the gardens of Casa Árabe to raise awareness of the effects of this environmental problem on our daily lives.

Naciones Unidas reúne a expertos para abordar medidas contra la desertificación y la sequía
AP/HALDEN KROG - UN gathers experts to address desertification and drought measures
A global problem

Desertification is defined as the degradation of land in dry areas and has significant economic, social and environmental impacts, such as loss of land productivity, increased depopulation in rural areas and loss of biodiversity. Although the causes of desertification are varied, they are mainly driven by climate change and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources.

Between 1900 and 2019, droughts affected 2.7 billion people worldwide and caused 11.7 million deaths. Moreover, current scientific projections predict that droughts will increase and could affect more than three quarters of the world's population by 2050.

Ultimately, desertification would imply, according to the forecasts, the irreversible deterioration and availability of natural land resources: soil, water and vegetation, which limits the development opportunities and living conditions of the affected populations.

Estimaciones de la vulnerabilidad de las principales ciudades al cambio climático
AFP/AFP - Estimates of the vulnerability of major cities to climate change
Spain, at risk of desertification

Spain is no stranger to this reality, which affects many countries around the world. Both droughts and desertification seriously affect Spain, where 74% of the territory is susceptible to desertification.

The most arid climates in our country, such as those found in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula and the eastern Canary Islands and, to a lesser extent, in the Ebro Valley and areas of the southern Meseta, could spread to other regions. Natural areas such as the Ribera de Navarra, the landscapes of the Regional Park of the southeast of the Community of Madrid, the island of Menorca, the Special Area of Conservation of El Piélago, or the climate of the micro-reserve of Salar de Agramón in Albacete, will experience a rise of 1.5ºC on average and a decrease in precipitation of up to 14% between now and 2065.