RIYADH: International experts on the environment continued the search for ways to tackle desertification at the International Workshop on Combating Desertification, organized by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in Riyadh.
A number of researchers in desertification stressed the need to find sustainable solutions for agriculture, identify the obstacles and work on a plan to restore land with the participation of all relevant sectors and the strong leadership necessary to overcome challenges.
More than 45 percent of land worldwide is affected by desertification and more than 90 percent of water is evaporating. Environmental experts stressed the need to take an interest in aquaculture, which had been proved to have a beneficial effect through research.
With global average temperatures expected to rise by more than two degrees Celsius a year, climate change will exacerbate the problem of water and food scarcity that costs the world $1.6 trillion annually.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture figures show that desertification in the Kingdom has reached 80 percent, which is alarmingly high.
Experts agreed solutions require hard work, being on site immediately so that government and non-government bodies can carry out their work, cooperating to restore the green lands and using water desalination techniques efficiently and treating wastewater.
Anthony Miller, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Plants at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, said the plant life in the eastern and northern regions of the Kingdom is weak, while in the western and southern regions it is strong but needs more attention in order to grow better.
A Food and Agriculture Organization expert said the rate of desertification is increasing alarmingly. She confirmed that most of the lands in the Arab world are either already affected by desertification or threatened by it, due to human and climatic factors.