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  • Ryan Wittler

The World Is “At a Crossroads” Managing and Mitigating Ever-worsening Droughts


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A new report from the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) shows humanity is “at a crossroads” when it comes to managing drought and mitigating its most damaging effects.


Report highlights:


The report found droughts are increasing in frequency and duration, affecting human societies and the ecological systems the survival of all species depends on.

  • The number and duration of droughts has increased by 29% since 2000, causing an estimated $124 billion in losses from 1998 to 2017.

  • From 1970 to 2019, droughts caused 650,000 global deaths, claiming the largest human toll of all natural disasters, despite representing just 15% of those that occurred.


In 2022, over 2.3 billion people face water stress, including almost 160 million children exposed to severe and prolonged droughts.


Going forward:


Without urgent global actions to combat water stress, by 2030, an estimated 700 million people will be at risk of being displaced by drought.

  • By 2040, one in four children could live in areas facing extreme water shortages.

  • By 2050, droughts may impact over three-quarters of the world’s population and up to 216 million could be forced to migrate.


“One of the best, most comprehensive solutions is land restoration, which addresses many of the underlying factors of degraded water cycles and the loss of soil fertility,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary of the UNCCD, in a statement.


Why it matters:


The report, Drought In Numbers, 2022, calls for “a full global commitment to drought preparedness and resilience,” making it a top priority in all regions.


“We are at a crossroads,” said Thiaw. “We need to steer toward the solutions rather than continuing with destructive actions, believing that marginal change can heal systemic failure.”


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