With only 11 per cent of the Earth's surface considered prime land for feeding a global population expected to reach 8.2 billion by 2020, early warning systems for climate change are crucial in fighting land degradation that already affects 250 million people and threatens 1 billion more, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned today.

“It is vital that we redouble efforts to assess the climate,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told the opening session of a workshop organized by his agency and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Arusha, in Tanzania.

“Under the scenario of climate change, droughts, flash floods, dust storms, famine, migratory movements, forest fires, all linked to desertification, are likely to increase, and so will their impact on global food security,” he said. More than 53 delegates from 28 countries and five UN agencies are taking part in the International Workshop on Climate and Land Degradation.

UNCCD Executive Secretary Hama Arba Diallo said early warning Systems would become more and more critical in the context of global warming and highlighted the importance of developing further collaboration with WMO in the battle against desertification. Measures taken by WMO to address weather, climate and water-related issues to meet UNCCD requirements include implementation of observance systems at national, regional and international levels; enhancement of prediction capabilities, assessment of vulnerabilities, analysis of hazards; and application of risk management and support to Parties and regional institutions with drought-related programmes.

The 1 billion already at risk in over 100, mostly developing countries, include many of the world’s poorest and most marginalized people who tend to lack strong political leverage, WMO noted.


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