Non-Aligned Movement, being the largest and most significant voice of the developing nations has highlighted the need to address the challenges that impede growth and sustainable development. One such challenge faced by the developing countries is that of desertification, and along with it the problem of land degradation and drought. According to estimates, 12 million hectares of arable land on which 20 million tonnes of crop could be potentially cultivated are lost globally to desertification and drought. The situation is even more worrying in the developing world.

In this context NAM recognises the importance of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). UNCCD was established in 1994 and is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The parties to UNCCD acknowledge that desertification and drought are problems of global dimension in that they affect all regions of the world and that joint action of the international community is needed to combat desertification and/or mitigate the effects. The UNCCD is particularly committed to a bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation.

At UNCCD COP13 held in September 2017 in Ordos, China, a new global roadmap to address land degradation was agreed upon. The new UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in order to restore the productivity of vast swathes of degraded land, improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people, and to reduce the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations. The strategy will contribute to (i) achieving the objectives of the Convention and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular regarding Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 and target 15.3 which aims to combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world by 2030 and other interrelated SDGs, within the scope of the Convention; (ii) improving the living conditions of affected populations; and (iii) enhancing ecosystems services.

The UNCCD has five strategic objectives: 1) To improve the condition of affected ecosystems, combat desertification/land degradation, promote sustainable land management and contribute to land degradation neutrality; 2) To improve the living conditions of affected populations through ensuring food security, adequate access to water so that migration caused by land degradation is substantially reduced; 3) To mitigate, adapt to, and manage the effects of drought in order to enhance resilience of vulnerable populations and ecosystems; 4) To generate global environmental benefits through effective implementation of the UNCCD; and 5) To mobilize substantial and additional financial and non-financial resources to support the implementation of the Convention by building effective partnerships at global and national level.

NAM Member States have actively supported the UNCCD through a number of initiatives. One such example is the Green Dam project in Algeria. This was launched in the early 1970s. The objectives of the program are: 1) protection and enhancement of existing forest resources 2) recovery of missing forest stand 3) Reforestation 4) development of agricultural and pastoral land 4) fight against sand encroachment and for dune fixation 5) Resource mobilization in surface and groundwater and 6) improvement of accessibility to desertification prone areas. In 2018, Algeria has planned a five-year project to prevent, reduce and reverse desertification and land degradation, mitigate the effects of drought in affected areas, by improving the resilience of human and environmental systems in the zone near the Green Dam, through sustainable management and rehabilitation of forests and pasture.

Morocco has initiated Programme Oasis Sud (POS) to combat the challenge of desertification and land degradation. POS is designed to enhance local development planning, livelihoods diversification, management of natural resources and women empowerment in the oases of southern Morocco.

NAM thus recognizes the economic and social significance of land, particularly its contribution to growth, food security, and poverty eradication, and notes that the intensity of desertification, land degradation and drought of most of arable land is a serious challenge to sustainable development.