Addressing desertification, land degradation and drought in LAC

Annex III: Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)

While well known for rainforests, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are actually about one-fourth desert and drylands (20,533,000 km2). The deserts of the Pacific coast stretch from southern Ecuador across the entire Peruvian shoreline to northern Chile. Further inland, at altitudes of 3,000-4,500 meters, the high plains, or Altiplano, of the Andean mountains cover large areas of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. To the east of the Andes, an arid region extends from Chaco‘s northern reaches in Paraguay to Patagonia in southern Argentina. In northeastern Brazil, the landscape is dominated by semi-arid zones and tropical savannahs.

Desertification and degradation of natural resources seriously affect nearly all countries of the LAC region. The region’s rural areas are home to 125 million people, including 60 percent of the poorest people in the region. These regions are particularly affected by land degradation, which is a factor in the vicious circle of land overexploitation, degradation, increased demands on production, greater poverty, food insecurity and migration.

The LAC region faces many challenges caused by land degradation. Severe droughts and land degradation have made the countries in Central America extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, delaying their sustainable development. Large parts of Colombia and Venezuela are highly degraded. In the arid zones of the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica, erosion and water shortages are noticeably intensifying. Most of Mexico is arid and semi-arid, mainly in the north.

Poverty and pressure on natural resources are critical factors driving land degradation in much of Latin America and the Caribbean. In a region with 465 million inhabitants, around 110 million live below the poverty line. Land degradation threatens the subsistence of a large part of the population living in rural areas – making it more difficult for people to earn a living wage. These conditions often force inhabitants in degraded areas to migrate.

Latin America and the Caribbean: Regional cooperation

The Regional Annex for Latin America and the Caribbean strongly emphasizes the need for sustainable development. The Convention has strong political support in the region. Every country is a party to the Convention, and the issues of land degradation, desertification and drought are constantly integrated into the national agendas for sustainable development and poverty reduction.

National Action Programmes (NAPs) have been formulated by most countries, taking a bottom-up approach with involvement from all relevant stakeholders, including civil society organizations.

LAC countries have defined national voluntary land degradation neutrality (LDN) targets and the elements needed to implement this methodology at national level, as part of the process to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular the SDG goal 15.3. Currently there are 22 LAC countries participating in the LDN Target Setting Programme (LDN TSP). Three of these - Costa Rica, Chile and Grenada – have been selected as pilot countries.

A regional coordination unit (RCU) is hosted by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago de Chile.

Contact Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU) for LAC

Mr. Jose Miguel Torrico
Programme Officer
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

Tel: (562) 2210-2017
Skype: jose.miguel.torrico
 
Offices N-27 and N-40, Northern Building, Division of CELADE
Dag Hammarskjöld 3477
Postal Code: 7630412
Vitacura, Santiago de Chile
CHILE