United Nations, June 15: The president of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Volkan Bozkir, on Monday called for urgent action to address unsustainable agriculture.
"We must urgently address unsustainable agriculture, one of the main drivers of desertification, land degradation and drought," the UNGA president, or the PGA, told the General Assembly High-level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought held at the UN headquarters in New York.
"I call on member states to conduct national dialogues on agricultural reform ahead of the Food Systems Summit this September," he said. "Ensuring food security for 9.7 billion people by 2050, while meeting the other goals of the Paris Agreement, will be possible only if we scale up land restoration and regeneration to transform our food systems."
The PGA warned that half of all agricultural land is degraded -- and unable to sustain any form of life -- threatening the livelihoods and security of over three billion people.
"The loss of healthy land is driving extinction and intensifying climate change, as healthy land is the world's greatest carbon sink," he said.
"Without a change in course, this will only get worse. By 2050, global crop yields are estimated to fall by 10 percent, with some suffering up to a 50 percent reduction. This will lead to a sharp 30 percent rise in world food prices, threatening progress on hunger and nutrition, as well as a myriad of associated development goals," said Bozkir.
The PGA said that over half of global GDP relies on land resources. If more arable land is lost, millions of farmers risk being plunged into poverty, potentially displacing 135 million people by 2045, and increasing the risk of instability and tension.
"Healthy land is the world's most effective water filter. But today, land degradation, and resultant droughts and climate change, are intensifying the incidence of wildfires. From 2018-2020 alone, wildfires have devastated roughly 30 million acres of land in the global north and south," he said.
"We must unite today to elevate the importance of land issues and build momentum ahead of the three upcoming cop-level summits on land, biodiversity and climate," said the PGA, noting that only the UN has the world-wide capacities to address holistically the pressing global issue of land restoration.