The role of women, key to sustainable land management

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Every June 17 is celebrated the World Day to Combat Desertification and DroughtThis date was proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1994 to raise awareness of the threat posed by these two issues, especially in developing countries, and the need to address them.

In 2023, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought aims to highlight the existing gender inequality in access rights to land and its associated assets. Thus, under the slogan “Woman. Your land. Your rights.”The aim is to raise awareness of the special impact of desertification, land degradation and drought on women and girls and to raise the awareness of women and girls on the special impact of desertification, land degradation and drought on women and girls and on women and girls. barriers they face in decision making on land-related issues. In addition, this year’s theme highlights women’s contributions to sustainable land management and promotes the land rights of women and girls globally.

According to UN data, the occurrence and duration of droughts has increased by 29% since 2000. Currently, there are more than 2.3 billion people worldwide suffering from water scarcity problems, and it is estimated that droughts could affect more than three-quarters of the world’s population by 2050. On the other hand, desertification is a threat to ecosystems as it implies a decrease in soil productivity and a loss of capacity to host biodiversity and capture carbon dioxide. As a result, the UN estimates that, at the current rate, 90% of soils could be degraded by 2050.

For its part, with regard to this link with respect to gender inequality, the UN study “The differential effects of desertification, land degradation and drought on women and men.The “Women in Agriculture” estimates that, despite the fact that almost half of the global agricultural labor force is made up of women, worldwide, only one in five of them are landowners. Along these lines, the study affirms that inequality is greater in those countries where women are still denied the right to inherit their husbands’ property due to laws and practices governed by custom, tradition or religion.

According to the same document, the lack of land titles that can be used as collateral hinders women’s access to loans, credit and the possibility of improving their education. In addition, this reduces their recognition as women farmers and increases social rejection of their participation in certain agricultural activities, which can also lead to their exclusion from decision-making spaces and less presence in positions of responsibility.

In view of the foregoing, the report concludes that women are more affected than men The main reason is that they have fewer tools to respond to the effects of desertification and drought in terms of crop varieties, irrigation technologies and the different agricultural techniques to be used depending on the situation.

In Spain, the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) approved last year the National Strategy to Combat Desertification (ENLD).
National Strategy to Combat Desertification (ENLD)
within the framework of strengthening synergies with rural development policies, biodiversity protection and recognition of environmental services. This document establishes an action framework for the development of policies and actions related to this problem in our country, where 74 % of the territory is susceptible to desertification and 20 % of these lands are already considered degraded. Among the guiding principles of this Strategy, the inclusion of the gender perspective at all decision-making levels and in technical training, extension and awareness-raising activities related to the fight against desertification, particularly in territories with depopulation dynamics, stands out.

The Biodiversity Foundation of MITECO supports projects and initiatives that contribute to the fulfillment of this Strategy, through the call for grants for the boosting biodiversity researchThe project is part of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (PRTR) financed by the European Union – NextGenerationEU.

Thus, the project
project, led by the University of Alicante, is preparing an atlas of desertification in Spain, as a basis for the actions to be carried out in the ENLD and the implementation of Land Degradation Neutrality in Spain.

On the other hand, the “Study of the spatio-temporal dynamics of desertification in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula” (DESFUTUR), coordinated by the University of Cordoba, will address the following topics characterizing the dynamics of three key drivers of desertification in a gradient of aridity: forest decay, forest fires and biological invasions.

Finally, the project “Analysis and monitoring of climatic aridity in Spain” (ARIDESP), promoted by the Estación Experimental de Aula Dei – Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (EEAD-CSIC), will serve for to improve the current knowledge about climatic aridity in SpainThe aim of this project is to develop information tools that will make it possible to assess the recent evolution and future projections in the context of climate change, as well as to develop information tools that will make it possible to monitor its evolution in real time.