The capital Ankara will host a series of events next week to discuss desertification, a problem aggravated by climate change and the depletion of natural resources. Starting June 17, which marks World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, the two-day events organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will focus on the phenomenon with photo exhibitions, panels and the International Soil Congress. Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said they will host ministers and high-ranking bureaucrats from 20 countries along with experts and researchers for the occasion. Nonprofit organizations specializing in the issue will also attend the events, he told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Pakdemirli and guest ministers will attend a meeting themed "putting balancing of land degradation at the center of sustainable development."
The events will also host training workshops on how to combat desertification as well as technical trips to Konya, a central Turkish province known for its arid climate, and Mersin in the southern Turkey.
The U.N., which has designated the day, says desertification does not include the expansion of existing deserts but rather the vulnerability of dry ecosystems that make up one-third of the world's land area. Arid ecosystems often fall victim to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. Among factors contributing to desertification are poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices. The last factor is especially prevalent in Konya and its neighbor Karaman, where dozens of sinkholes emerged in recent months due to what experts dub as excessive use of underground water for irrigation. According to the United Nations, some 1.8 billion people will experience water scarcity by 2025 and by 2045, some 135 million people may be displaced as a result of desertification. It calls for sustainable land management and the restoration of areas exposed to desertification.