UNITED NATIONS, June 17 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for efforts to combat desertification and drought.
In a message on World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, which falls on June 17, Guterres stressed the need to recognize the imperative of combating desertification as part of world efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Desertification, land degradation and drought are major threats affecting millions of people worldwide, particularly women and children, he said. Every year, the world loses 24 billion tons of fertile soil, and dryland degradation reduces national domestic product in developing countries by up to 8 percent.
"Protecting and restoring land -- and better using it -- can reduce forced migration, improve food security and spur economic growth. It can also help us to address the global climate emergency," he said.
This year is also the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.