Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir/TPS
Israeli agriculture along the Gaza Border.

Nearly 2,000 people are participating virtually in Ben-Gurion University’s 2020 Drylands, Deserts & Desertification Conference (DDD) which began on Monday and will address one of the most pressing worldwide issues, “Feeding the Drylands: Challenges in a Changing Environment.”

Desertification refers to a process of degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas as a result of human activity, climate change and various additional factors. More than 40% of the Earth’s landmass is considered drylands, and that percentage rises every year.

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The world’s largest desertification-focused conference is being held virtually with participants from 103 countries, including from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran.

The number of registrants has quadrupled since the previous DDD conference.

Organized by the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR) at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the conference brings together more than 160 researchers and practitioners in the field from around the world.

The conference is affiliated with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

The DDD Conference has become a seminal event for those interested in the techniques, policies and practices of combating desertification.

Prof. Noam Weisbrod, director of the BIDR, said that “the DDD conference has grown to be the most important and influential conference in the world to deal with sustainability, environmental issues, water scarcity and food security in drylands. In light of the severe global changes the world is facing and their dramatic influence on drylands in general and on the developing countries in particular, the DDD is more significant than ever before.”

According to Prof. Shimon Rachmilevitch, DDD Conference Chair, “The causes and consequences of desertification affect every creature on the planet, from Acacia trees to the coronavirus, to people. The importance of researching and understanding desertification is part and parcel of understanding climate change. This international conference, sponsored by the UN, is the most important stage in the world to hear, be heard, learn, and draw conclusions which will benefit humanity and the planet.”

With desert covering a large part of its surface, Israel has developed solutions to make the desert bloom, from which other countries around the world are learning.

The State of Israel emphasizes international development to fight desertification through cooperative programs for training, project development and research.

Among Israel’s areas of expertise are water recycling, water management, irrigation, agriculture in arid environments, soil erosion, desalinization, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and afforestation.

Israel works closely with the UNCCD and its Executive Secretary to achieve the agency’s goals, plans and framework.

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