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17 june: world day to combat desertification

Sardinia like the Sahara? Dispelling false myths helps to better define the threat, which is real and current. It is therefore useful to remember that the phenomenon of desertification does not involve the transformation of "zero kilometer" territories into Saharan expanses with high sand dunes (desertization). Desertification consists in a weakening of the soils, until the loss of physical, chemical and biological fertility due to the combination of different factors, such as climate change, "physiological" erosion, of water and wind origin, and invasive human actions that are often dominant causes. The process underway leads to the degradation and/or destruction of biodiversity, puts at risk human subsistence and survival and determines large migrations of peoples towards less thirsty and compromised territories.
Italy has woken up and is deserted. The numbers sound the alarm bell: today about a fifth of the Italian national territory is considered at risk of desertification, of which just under half (41%) is located in the regions of southern Italy, such as Molise, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, Sardinia and Sicily. Sardinia therefore gains more and more positions in the sad ranking of desertification risk due to climatic variations and aggressive anthropogenic activities. The situation is particularly serious: the phenomenon affects 52% of the regional territory, of which 11% already affected. According to studies carried out by the Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change (CMCC), by the end of the century the scenario will be one of increases in temperatures between 3 and 6 °C with the consequent extremes of meteoric phenomena and therefore also reductions in rainfall in various areas, especially in summer. It is clear that climatic problems and those related to desertification will be increasingly intertwined.

Water resources statistics.  According to data from the WWF, there is a quantity of renewable water resources corresponding to about 116 billion cubic meters while the volumes of water actually used are estimated to be around 52 billion cubic meters. Overall, more than 30% of the renewable water resources available are used in Italy: a much higher percentage than the threshold of 20% indicated by the European objective: for this reason, the OECD has counted Italy among the countries subject to medium-high water stress: the peninsula and islands also have a strong lack of homogeneity with respect to the shortage of water resources and their needs.

World Day to Combat Desertification. To raise awareness among governments, organizations and individuals about collective responsibility for the sustainable use of water and to prevent desertification and drought, in 1995 the United Nations General Assembly indicated 17 June to celebrate the World Day against Desertification and Drought. On the same day, in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), ratified by 200 countries, was adopted in Paris. The aim of the Convention is to mitigate the effects of drought through international cooperation activities and partnership agreements in the countries most affected. The strategies implemented focus on improving soil productivity and sustainable resource management. In particular, the programmes launched at national level to combat desertification are developed along four lines: soil protection, sustainable management of water resources, reduction of the impact of productive activities and rebalancing of the territory.

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