Case Study

Cities Against Desertification

Seeking practical solutions
Urban areas are directly vulnerable to desertification. In particular, they are the main recipients of desertification-induced migrants forced to leave their land because of food insecurity, poverty, wood and water shortages, and conflict. Cities represent a natural link between rural areas and national governments. Furthermore, they can adopt effective policies for encouraging change. Their consumption patterns, trade links with rural areas, lobbying capacity at the national level, and ability to assist both rural areas and other cities are just a few examples of the levers that local authorities can manipulate in the fight against desertification.

- UNCCD, 1999

Desertification is one of the most serious problems of our time, declared Ms. Uschi Eid, Parliamentary Secretary of State of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, at the World Forum of Mayors on Cities and Desertification, held June 11-12, 1999, in Bonn, Germany. The forum was organized by the City of Bonn, in cooperation with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the City of Rome and the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and with the support of ICLEI's European Secretariat. About 300 mayors and technical experts from 69 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe attended the event.

As a follow up to the first Mayor's Forum on Cities and Desertification in Rome (1997), the Bonn meeting focused on identifying a common understanding of the causes and effects of desertification and the roles and responsibilities of cities in the future. There was a general approval of Local Agenda 21 processes being used for sustainable development in affected cities. The forum also succeeded in outlining follow-up projects between cities and engaging new partnerships to find sustainable solutions to this complex issue, specifically in setting up the 'Cities Against Desertification' programme.

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