Human life depends on the earth as much as the ocean for our sustenance and livelihoods. Plant life provides 80 percent of our human diet, and we rely on agriculture as an important economic resource and means of development. Forests account for 30 percent of the Earth’s surface, providing vital habitats for millions of species and important sources for clean air and water; as well as being crucial for combating climate change.
Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate. Drought and desertification is also on the rise each year, amounting to the loss of 12 million hectares and affects poor communities globally. Of the 8,300 animal breeds known, 8 percent are extinct and 22 percent are at risk of extinction.
About 80% of the Arab region is made up of dryland ecosystems, particularly fragile with converging risks from climate change. Threatened species in the region stand at over 1,000, with a majority being critically endangered. Of these, 24% are fish, 22% birds and 20% mammals. Arab countries have made efforts to preserve their biodiversity, including through the expansion of protected areas and sustainable use regimes in key ecosystems such as oases. As a percentage of total territorial area, protected areas grew from 3.21% in 1990 to 9.28% in 2012.
The SDGs aim to conserve and restore the use of terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, drylands and mountains by 2020. Halting deforestation is also vital to mitigating the impact of climate change. Urgent action must be taken to reduce the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity which are part of our common heritage.
Goals in action
When the Arab Spring blew over Egypt in early 2011, most investors predicted chaos and fled, pushing already massive unemployment even higher and plunging the economy into profound uncertainty. MORE >
In Bara, a locality in North Kordofan that encompasses 90 tiny villages, the greenery can be deceptive. The flat desert sprawls for miles around, dotted with tiny villages where the only colors to be seen are the bright clothes of women coming back from their weekly trip to the central market of Bara town. MORE >
Ahmed Eldaw, like his fellow farmers and pastoralists in northern Sudan, used to practice a form of subsistence agriculture that depended solely on the erratic floods of the Atbara River. MORE >