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World Environment Day 06, Algiers: Desertification

UN World Environment Day 2006, in Algiers, to focus on Desertification

The official celebrations of World Environmental Day will be held this year in Algiers, the first time ever in North Africa, to highlight the theme of Deserts and Desertification, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has announced.

“Like many of its neighbouring countries, Algeria is plagued by soil erosion from over-grazing, and by drought and desertification,” Chérif Rahmani, the Algerian Minister of Environment and honorary UN spokesman for the International Year of Deserts and Desertification said yesterday at a joint press conference with UNEP in Algiers yesterday.

The UN General Assembly has designated the year 2006 the International Year of Deserts and Desertification, and, in keeping with tradition, UNEP has chosen the current year’s theme for World Environment Day, observed annually on 5 June.

“Human-induced land degradation now affects all continents and needs to be addressed urgently. It is appropriate that attention should focus on North Africa when we speak of the devastating effects of desertification,” UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said.

According to UNEP, desertification means loss of the land’s biological productivity through human-induced factors and climate change.

It affects one third of the earth’s surface and over 1 billion people, with potentially devastating consequences in terms of social and economic costs, the agency said.

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