The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) organized a workshop to update the National Strategy to Combat Desertification in line with its efforts to prevent and reverse land degradation and meet the UAE’s commitment to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Held on July 19 and 20, the gathering drew strong participation of government officials, representatives of academia, and experts from research centers with a focus on determining the outline and objectives of the National Strategy to Combat Desertification 2022-2030. They also commenced developing an action plan to involve relevant sectors in the implementation of the strategy.
In his opening speech, His Excellency Dr Nasir Sultan, Acting Assistant Undersecretary for the Biodiversity and Marine Life Sector at MOCCAE, said: “Safeguarding its land from degradation and drought is a cornerstone of the UAE’s environmental protection drive. Over the past decades, the UAE has established an integrated legislative framework, coupled with initiatives and programs that seek to halt desertification and expand green areas across the country.”
His Excellency noted that the UAE ratified the UNCCD in 1998. To fulfil the country’s obligations under the Convention, MOCCAE developed the first National Strategy to Combat Desertification in 2003 that was updated in 2014. He pointed out that the workshop aimed to align the strategy with future national and global directions and targets.
He added: “The UAE’s efforts to combat desertification are not restricted within its borders but include regional and global measures focusing on addressing the driving factors of desertification and promoting the transformation of desert land into agricultural land. These endeavors have resulted in the increased adoption of sustainable agriculture practices, planting of salt- and drought-tolerant crop, and usage of treated wastewater for irrigation, as well as driving rain enhancement research, and raising public awareness about desertification and ways to prevent it.”
In its fight against desertification, the UAE continues to expand its protected areas, whose number currently stands at 49 and which span 15.5 percent of the country’s territory, and roll out tree-planting initiatives. In this context, the nation has pledged to plant an additional 100 million mangrove seedlings by 2030 – a considerable increase on the 30-million target set out in its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.