Colorado State University Hosts United Nations for North American Environmental Announcement Nov. 11

On Thursday, Nov. 11, Colorado State University will host the United Nations for the only North American announcement of a global initiative specifically designed to address issues of land degradation. Such degradation turns land into drylands or deserts that threatens the livelihoods of more than 2 billion people in about 100 countries.

The UN announcement of the Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification will occur with Luc Gnacadja, the executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, at 10 a.m. in the Cherokee Park Ballroom in CSU’s Lory Student Center. Following the announcement, short seminars will be held addressing land desertification issues and topics in North America. CSU also will sign a letter of intent to work closely with the United Nations in future research on desertification. The event is free and open to the public.

"The decision to hold the North America launch at Fort Collins is the result of high-level discussion and collaboration between CSU and the UNCCD over the past two years. The launch has significance in that it builds upon shared common international interests in desertification and to bring the expertise of CSU in fields such as soil erosion, water conservation and drought management into the forefront of the global debate on the environment,” Gnacadja said.

Desertification is the process in which land degrades into drylands or deserts. Natural deserts make up an important part of the earth’s ecosystems, while desertification is what happens when once-healthy landscapes in dryland areas turn barren from human impacts and worsening drought. Sometimes, as in Colorado and other dustbowl regions of the world, sand spreads into these landscapes, turning them desert-like. But desertified land can be restored.

CSU is the first university in the world to host one of the UN’s decade announcements. Ceará, Brazil, was the host state for the global launch of the decade in August 2010. The UN is completing the launch of the decade in regional locations. The African regional launch took place in Nairobi, Kenya; the Asian regional launch was in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The regional launches mark the official start of the annual observance of the decade declared in 2007 by the United Nations General Assembly.

The Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification runs from January 2010 to December 2020.

The full program of the launch and seminars follows.

10 – 10:05 a.m.: Introduction and Commitment to Providing Science to Deal with Desertification
Bill Farland
Vice President for Research
Colorado State University

10:05 – 10:15 a.m. The Importance of Combating Desertification: A Call to Action
Luc Gnacadja
Executive Secretary
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

10:15 – 10:20 a.m. Signing of Declaration and Letter of Intent for an MOU
Bill Farland; Vice President for Research, CSU
Luc Gnacadja; Executive Secretary, UNCCD
Other Distinguished Guests

10:20 – 10:30 a.m. Intermission

10:30 – 10:35 a.m. Introduction of Seminar
Joyce Berry
Dean, Warner College of Natural Resources
Colorado State University

10:35 – 10:50 a.m. Opening Statement: The Importance of Desertification in the USA
Thomas Reinsch
Soil Scientist
Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)

10:50 – 11:05 a.m. A Half Century of Commitment to Understanding Soils Issues in Colorado
Gary Peterson
Professor and Department Chair, Soil and Crop Sciences
Colorado State University

11:05 – 11:20 a.m. Success Stories and Affected Populations
Shannon Horst
CEO and Co-Founder, Savory Institute

11:20 – 11:35 a.m. Success Stories and Affected Populations
Dennis Ojima
Senior Research Scientist, NREL/CSU and Senior Scholar
John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment

11:35 – 11:50 a.m. Desertification in Mexico and Responses in the Chihuahuan Desert
Jurgen Hoth
World Wildlife Fund
Chihuahuan Desert Program

11:50 a.m. – noon Q & A Session

Noon – 12:05 p.m. Closing
Joyce Berry
Dean, Warner College of Natural Resources
Colorado State University

The Decade to Combat Desertification is spearheaded by United Nations agencies. They include the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and other relevant bodies of the United Nations including the Department of Public Information of the United Nations Secretariat. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification is the focal point of this inter-agency task force.

For more information about the Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification, visit