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UN 'International Year of Deserts' ends with stark warnings

Breaking Earth News Alert

ALGIERS, Dec 17 (AFP)

The UN International Year of Deserts and Desertification ended on Sunday with stark warnings from experts about the expansion of uninhabitable zones and an increase in climate-driven migration.
Desertification -- the expansion of desert areas, caused by growing populations and climate changes -- is one of the most important global issues, UN Under Secretary-General Hans Van Ginkel said at the start of a three-day conference in the Algerian capital.
"It has become more and more evident that desertification is one of the most important global challenges, destabilising societies the world over," said Van Ginkel, who is also rector of the United Nations University (UNU), a partner in the event involving around 200 experts from 25 countries.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, host of the conference, said that desertification "affects a third of the surface of our planet, more than the surface of China, Canada and Brazil combined," and is a threat to world peace.
Bouteflika called in a speech opening the event for a concerted, global effort, saying it was "more urgent that ever" to put into practice measures agreed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to tackle desertification and preserve non-renewable resources.
Around 2 billion people live in areas threatened by desertification.

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