World Environment Day: restoring ecosystems for people, nature and climate

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Every June 5, since 1973, we have been celebrating the World Environment DayThe United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has proclaimed the United Nations Day for the Environment (UNEP) with the aim of promoting environmental awareness, stimulating action in favor of the environment and, in short, highlighting the importance of environmental protection.

This year, under the slogan “Our lands. Our future. We are the #GenerationRestoration” aims to highlight the importance of restoring land, stopping desertification and strengthening resilience to drought, in favor of people, nature and the climate.

Ecosystems around the world are in danger, warns the UN. From forests and drylands to farmland and lakes, the natural spaces on which people’s survival depends, providing us with oxygen, food and water, are reaching a point of no return.

Land “plays a fundamental role in the climate system” as it acts as a carbon sink, since its surfaces, such as forests, regulate the planet’s temperature and help store carbon. In the last decade alone, terrestrial ecosystems absorbed around 30% of emissions from human activities.

However, land is under increasing pressure from deforestation, urbanization, industrial development and unsustainable agricultural practices, which diminish its ability to produce food, maintain freshwater and forest resources, and regulate climate and air quality.

According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, up to 40% of the planet’s land areas are currently degraded, which directly affects half of the world’s population. In addition, the intensity and frequency of drought periods have increased by 29% since 2000 and, if urgent action is not taken, droughts could affect more than three-quarters of the world’s population by 2050.

Climate change, in turn, aggravates the degeneration of the earth through drought, desertification and other extreme weather events that increase as the planet warms. The UN estimates that, at the current rate, by the year 2050, an area as large as the size of South America will have deteriorated by 2050.
area as large as the size of South America would have deteriorated by 2050.

Soil restoration is therefore key to ensuring that ecosystems continue to provide us with the benefits they offer. This is a key pillar of the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), which is a call for the protection and revitalization of ecosystems worldwide, fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.