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|DesertWATCH: Severity of desertification on world stage|
|Desertification puts the health and well-being of more than 1.2 billion people in more than 100 countries at risk, according to the United Nations.|
|The theme of this yearâ€™s World Day to Combat Desertification, held every year on 17 June, is â€˜Desertification and Climate Change â€“ One Global Challengeâ€™.
According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), desertification is a process of land degradation that is partly due to human-induced activities. With their view from space, satellites can track land-use changes that often drive desertification â€“ such as over-cultivation, ill-managed irrigation and deforestation.
"On this World Day, let us strive to address desertification and climate change in a synergetic fashion, as part of an integrated approach to achieving sustainable development for all."
ESA has been working closely with the UNCCD secretariat for more than five years to develop user-tailored and standardised information services based on satellite observations to assess and monitor desertification and its trends over time.
In 2004, ESA launched a satellite-based information service called DesertWATCH to work with three of the European countries most affected by desertification â€“ Italy, Portugal and Turkey. In addition to helping national and regional authorities to assess and monitor land degradation and desertification, DesertWatch also aims to support these authorities in reporting to the UNCCD.
To this end, satellite observations have been combined with in-situ information, processing tools, numerical models and geo-information systems to create standardised and comparable geo-information products that can be used to satisfy UNCCD reporting requirements.
The Eighth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 8) of UNCCD will be held in Madrid, Spain, from 3 to 14 September. The COP is the main decision making group of the UNCCD, which meets regularly to further the Convention's objectives.