Addressing Rising Food Prices and Climate Change: World Environment Day focuses on Land Restoration

Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in food costs and growing concerns regarding the welfare of food producers, which have emerged as urgent worldwide matters. The increased expenses are influenced by other reasons, including as geopolitical tensions, the COVID-19 epidemic, and the escalating impact of climate change. Nevertheless, the most significant perils to cattle and crops on a global scale are drought and land degradation, which are worsened by climate change.

The focus of this year’s World Environment Day is to tackle land degradation, drought, and desertification, with the goal of attaining immediate social, economic, and environmental advantages. Land degradation and drought have a significant impact on a total of 3.2 billion individuals worldwide, encompassing populations in East Africa, India, the Amazon basin, substantial portions of the United States, Europe, China, and Australia. Over the course of the next 25 years, land degradation has the potential to decrease agricultural productivity by 12%, increase food costs by nearly 30%, and decrease the average family income by 20% as a result of climate change.

Postponing measures to address climate change and the loss of biodiversity leads to a harmful cycle: the deterioration of soils makes agriculture more difficult and less financially viable, necessitating further reliance on subsidies and chemicals. This leads to a decrease in the nutritional value of food and worsens the triple global catastrophe of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

The key is in rejuvenating the natural environment. Efforts to revive and rehabilitate deteriorated agricultural lands, woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, and urban areas have shown to be effective, resulting in the conversion of large expanses into cultivable land and the generation of numerous employment opportunities. This phenomenon is occurring in regions such as the Mediterranean, Africa, South and East Asia, as well as in Small Island Developing States like Vanuatu. Efforts to restore areas such as the Central American corridor have enabled regions that previously relied on help to become self-sufficient.

Enlarging these measures yields advantages for the environment, individuals, and economies. Based on the findings of the United Nations Environment Programme, taking action is six times less expensive than not taking any action. 50% of the global gross domestic product (GDP) relies on the natural environment, and each dollar invested in restoration in the United States yields economic benefits of up to $30. Member nations of the United Nations have committed to the restoration of 1 billion hectares of land, 300,000 km of rivers, and 350 million hectares of wetlands. This initiative aims to enhance food security and achieve climate-related objectives.

Saudi Arabia will be the host country for the 2024 World Environment Day as well as the largest-ever United Nations conference on land and drought. The conference will specifically address topics such as land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience. This endeavour is of utmost importance for the Middle East, since 75% of cultivable land is impacted by degradation, and the entire population will confront water scarcity by 2050.

World Environment Day, which takes place on June 5th, promotes collective action among individuals. Engage in event planning or participation, integrate environmental objectives into your business operations, and take into account climate and nature policy while casting your vote. The genuine issues of the cost-of-living problem and the difficulties encountered by farmers can be effectively addressed by implementing a solution: the restoration of land and ecosystems to establish a sustainable food system, promote a healthy environment, increase incomes, and ensure a stable climate.