What’s the news?
- The “Drought in Numbers” 2022 report presented by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) has revealed that many parts of India fall under the list of regions that are vulnerable to drought globally.
- The “Drought in Numbers” report is a collection of data on the effects of droughts on our ecosystem and how they can be mitigated through efficient planning for the future.
News in detail
- The report stated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reduced by 2 to 5% between 1998 and 2017 due to severe droughts in the country. Globally, droughts in the same period caused economic losses of approximately $124 billion.
- The number and duration of droughts around the world has increased by an alarming 29% since 2000.
A glance at COP15
- The fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is currently underway in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
- The COP15 theme, ‘Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity’, is a call to action to ensure land, the lifeline on this planet, continues to benefit present and future generations.
- The conference has brought together leaders from governments, the private sector, civil society and other key stakeholders from around the world to drive progress in the future sustainable management of one of our most precious commodities: land.
- It mainly focuses on desertification, land degradation, and drought along with tackling “the interconnected challenges of land degradation, climate change, and biodiversity loss” as we move into the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
- Drought, land restoration, and related enablers such as land rights, gender equality and youth empowerment are among the top items on the Conference agenda.
- The UNCCD’s 197 parties, which includes 196 member States as well as the European Union are expected to galvanize sustainable solutions for land restoration and drought resilience, with a strong focus on future-proofing land use.
The most Pressing Concerns
- According to World Bank estimates, drought conditions can force up to 216 million people to migrate by 2050. Other factors at play along with drought could be water scarcity, declining crop productivity, rise in sea levels, and overpopulation.
- World Meteorological Organization data has revealed that Weather, climate and water hazards have accounted for 50% of all disasters and 45% of all reported deaths since 1970 and Nine in ten of these deaths have occurred in developing countries.
- According to the report, climate change alone will cause 129 countries to experience an increase in drought exposure in the next few decades.
- More than a billion people around the world were affected by drought in 2000-19, making it the second-worst disaster after flooding. Africa was the worst hit, with 134 droughts, of which 70 occurred in East Africa.
- The World Health Organization has noted that approximately 55 million people globally are directly affected by droughts annually, making it the most serious hazards to livestock and crops in almost every part of the world.
- The impact of drought is, however, not uniform across genders. Research shows that women and girls in emerging and developing countries suffer more in terms of education levels, nutrition, health, sanitation, and safety as a result of droughts.
- The burden of water collection also disproportionately falls on women (72 per cent) and girls (9 per cent). The report notes that they may spend up to 40 per cent of their caloric intake fetching water.
- In 2022, over 2.3 billion people are facing water stress. Almost 160 million children are exposed to severe and prolonged droughts.
- According to the report, if predictions are correct and global warming reaches 3° C by 2100, drought losses could be five times higher than today’s levels.
- The largest increase in drought losses is projected in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic regions of Europe.
- Around 84% of all terrestrial ecosystems are threatened by changing and intensifying wildfires.
- According to a 2017 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the percentage of plants affected by drought has more than doubled in the last 40 years. Around 12 million hectares of land are lost each year due to drought and desertification.
What is UNCCD?
- Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.
- The convention was the result of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, also called the Earth Summit.
- The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the dry lands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
- The Convention’s 197 parties work together to improve the living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought.
- India is a party to the convention.