Ibrahim Thiaw Desertification Day Message: Your Choice Matters

Contributed by the UNCCD Secretariat

Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
(Credit: UN Environment)

This year, living under the shadow of COVID-19, choices seem to have vanished for many of us. 

We can’t choose where we go, how we work or how we celebrate with our friends and families.

We should be celebrating the just-ended Decade on Desertification for example. 

But as people suffer and as jobs and incomes are lost, we, at the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, instead extend our deepest sympathies to everyone affected.

While some of our choices and freedoms have temporarily curtailed, we have not lost all the power and influence. We can still make some important choices.

If we take care of nature, nature will take care of us. We need nature. Nature does not need us.

If we intrude ourselves into nature’s wild spaces and degrade the land, we can expect more zoonotic diseases to emerge. We can expect the services land provides us with, healthy food, clean water and air, to disappear.

In our globalised world, the food we eat, the feed for our livestock, and the fibre for our clothes impact land thousands of miles away.

Each of us holds the power to protect the land with each choice we make in our daily lives. 

And we can still choose to protect nature. By doing so, we in fact protect our future. 

The food we lose or waste each year uses 1.4 billion hectares. By wasting food, we indeed waste land and water. We waste our biological resources; we emit carbon. We jeopardize the future of new generations.

In most cases, how much food we waste is entirely our choice.

The land used to graze and produce grain to feed animals make up 80 per cent of agricultural land.

But we can choose a more balanced diet.

By 2030, the fashion industry is expected to use 35 per cent more land – much of it to grow materials for cheap and throwaway fashion.

But we can choose that shirt or those jeans more carefully.

Those choices do not diminish our quality of life. On the contrary, they improve it.  

A new social contract for nature would see humankind committed to build back better, smarter and stronger in the years to come. 

If we chose to work in harmony with nature, we will avert land degradation. We will curb our carbon emissions, and we will reverse biodiversity loss.  

If we chose to restore the land rather than destroy it, we create jobs and opportunity. 

If, like us, you are inspired by the 80 countries that have pledged to restore 400 million hectares by 2030,

You can choose to support communities restore their land.

By doing so, you restore hope too. 

Your choices matter and no choice is too small.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *