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Islamabad

July 18, 2017

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Desertification affecting livelihoods of 900m people worldwide

Desertification affecting livelihoods of 900m people worldwide

Rawalpindi: Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS AAUR) in collaboration with Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLMP) organized a seminar on "Combating Desertification in Pakistan" and organised awareness walk as well as tree planting to mark the World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD), here on Thursday.

The WDCD is observed every year on 17 June to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. This year, due to Ramazan, celebration held in July in Pakistan.

Country Director, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan,  Ignacio Artaza was the chief guest while Professor Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad Vice Chancellor PMAS-AAUR, National Programme Director (SLMP-II), Ishrat Ali, Hamid Marwat, National Programme Coordinator (SLMP-II), Professor Dr. Maqsood Anwar, Dean Faculty of Forestry, Range Management and Wildlife, Professor Dr. Sarwat N. Mirza, Chairman Department of Forestry & Range Management of PMAS-AAUR, deans, directors, faculty members and large numbers of students were also present on the occasion.

Addressing the audience at the seminar, Country Director, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan, Ignacio Artaza emphasised to mainstream efforts for sustainable land management to combat desertification. He said, "Desertification is a global phenomenon, affecting the livelihoods of 900 million people across the five continents and representing a third of worldwide threats to biodiversity. It requires global attention and local action."

Mr. Artaza acknowledged efforts by the Ministry of Climate Change and appreciated Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLMP) for on-the-ground efforts to combat desertification in 14 districts in all four provinces of the country. He said, "UNDP is playing a meaningful role through its programmes and partnerships in Pakistan.

"Environment and Climate Change Unit of the UNDP has been making pragmatic efforts to address the overall effects of climate change in Pakistan and specifically desertification through the SLM Programme." Artaza said.  He, particularly, appreciated engaging local communities in decision-making.

Professor Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad, Vice Chancellor PMAS AAUR, highlighted the role university was playing for better climate in the country. He emphasised that such collaborative activities must be strengthened and taken forward for fighting desertification in Pakistan. He also appreciated UNDP Pakistan and Ministry of Climate Change for taking the lead in sustainable land management through their joint programme, SLMP. Professor Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad said that desertification and land degradation is a key challenge for the socio-economic development of Pakistan and emphasised to promote practices such as hydroponics, rainwater harvesting to address the issues of food insecurity and water scarcity. “Rainwater harvesting is the best source to meet the agriculture needs also improves the quality and quantity of produce”, he added.

National Programme Director (SLMP-II), Ishrat Ali informed the audience that Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) was aware of the threats posed by desertification, land degradation and drought to environmental sustainability and appreciates value of policy, projects and programme's interventions in combating desertification, land degradation and drought.

He said, "SLMP is working on developing Integrated Sustainable Land Management Policies, Land Use Plans at district and village levels, and on ground interventions that aim for effective environmental management for combating desertification, land degradation and drought in Pakistan."

Earlier, Hamid Marwat, National Programme Coordinator (SLMP-II) briefed the audience about World Desertification Day and about SLMP approaches and interventions for better land management in Pakistan. 

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