Saudi Arabia, UNEP launch World Environment Day campaigns to combat desertification and restore degraded lands


World Environment Day (WED) 2024 host the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have launched campaigns to combat desertification, restore land and build drought resilience ahead of global WED celebrations on 5 June in the country’s capital Riyadh.

”Now is the time to act on commitments to prevent, halt and reverse ecosystem degradation” said Elizabeth Mrema, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, launching the global campaign at a Saudi Environment Week event in Riyadh.

”We are the first generation to now fully understand the immense threats to the land – and might be the last one with a chance to reverse the course of destruction. Our priority now must be on restoring ecosystems – on replanting our forests, on rewetting our marshes, on reviving our soils,” she added.

Both campaigns will champion leadership in restoring land and put the spotlight on the Kingdom’s commitments at home and across the region to combat climate change by regreening and rewilding huge swathes of arid and semi-arid lands. Saudi Arabia is leading the G20 Global Land Initiative launched during its G20 Presidency in 2020 and will also host the largest-ever UN conference on land and drought in Riyadh from 2-13 December 2024 – the 16th session of the Convention’s Conference of the Parties (COP16).

In March 2019, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 2021–2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This World Environment Day aims to support accelerated progress on these commitments, with Saudi Arabia’s campaign connecting with the theme of COP-16, ‘Our Land, Our Future’, and the ‘We are #GenerationRestoration’ slogan of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Globally, countries have pledged to restore one billion hectares of land – an area larger than China – by protecting 30% of land and sea for nature and restoring 30% of the planet’s degraded ecosystems. Championing the 2030 Agenda of shifting the world onto a sustainable and resilient path and joining forces to protect people and planet, World Environment Day 2024 will contribute to building momentum for climate action by rallying support for vital ecosystems restoration work.

World Environment Day, marked annually on 5 June, was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. Over the past five decades, it has grown to be one of the largest global platforms for environmental outreach, with tens of millions of people participating online and through in-person activities, events and actions around the world.