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The Kyoto Protocol and Desertification Proposal

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Updated: Aug 21st, 2019

Diplomatic history of the multilateral agreement on desertification

A look into the history of desertification reveals that desertification is a problem that has lived with humanity for a long time.

Moreover, desertification has grown in scope, making a substantial number of people to refer to it as one of the leading environmental problems in the contemporary world.

The worsened state of desertification and its effects across the world as witnessed during the last half of the 20th century resulted in contemplations on how to deal with the problem.

There is a wide range of environmental agreements, most of which revolve around the issue of protecting the natural environment from the degradation that comes from intense human activities (Schwirzenbeck, Körber & Barth, 2008).

According to Schwirzenbeck, Körber and Barth (2008), the Kyoto Protocol can be traced back to the year 1992 when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was convened.

This treaty, which was mainly unbinding to the members, sets a precedent for the development of negotiation frameworks on mitigating the problem of climate change. The Kyoto Protocol is one of the most renowned negotiation frameworks that were developed under the UNFCCC.

As the years go by, the Kyoto Protocol has advanced into an international agreement that regulates the efforts of sustainable development across the world, with more countries exhibiting commitment to the provisions of the agreement.

Why the agreement has been implemented

To begin with, it is critical to observe that the realities of environmental degradation are being witnessed across the globe.

Therefore, one of the reasons why nations under the auspices of the United Nations increasingly show commitment to the fight against environmental degradation is that the levels of degradation pose a danger to the sustainability of life.

Nations are left with no option but to embrace sustainability standards that are developed through the Kyoto Protocol and other environmental agreements (United Nations, 2007).

The Kyoto Protocol is a significant force in the war against the degradation of the environment because it highlights what nations need to do to mitigate the dangers of environmental degradation that have been heightened by human activities.

The agreement is explicit in terms of its provisions. This is not because it is coercive in nature, but because it brings out the realities of environmental degradation. This shows the level at which different nations contribute to the pollution and degradation of the global ecosystem.

Countries can no longer afford to run away from the issue of environmental degradation owing to the precise documentation of the patterns of environmental degradation across the world (United Nations, 2007).

History and future predictions of desertification

A study of the global ecosystem denotes that desertification is mostly enhanced by land degradation. The rate and nature of desertification vary across the world.

Desertification is mostly seen as a long term impact of human economic activities that are depicted through the land practices that are adopted by man.

These activities are an indicator of the lack of effective policies to protect the natural environment, meaning that the encroachment of human beings on the natural environment is one of the major forces as far as the advancement of desertification is concerned.

According to Geist and Lambin (2004), climatic factors have also played a significant role in desertification. The authors reiterate the importance of making distinctions between the human factors and the natural factors as far as the problem of desertification across the world is concerned.

Environmental histories across the world denote the prevalence of harsh climatic factors, for instance, the harsh climate in the Sub-Sahara region in Africa that is the leading cause of the desertification in this region (Geist & Lambin, 2004).

Contemporary environmental studies reveal the combination of human factors and the natural factors as forces that exacerbate climate change and the spread of desertification in the world.

The question that is often asked by researchers in the contemporary field of ecology concerns the extent to which human factors increase the level of desertification in the world. The United Nations estimates that approximately 250 million people across the globe are affected by desertification.

The projection of these results depicts that over a billion people will be affected by drought by the end of this century. This calls for the complete enforcement of the Convention to Combat Desertification resolutions to mitigate the effects of desertification (European Space Agency, n.d.).

Implications of desertification on humanity

Research shows that desertification continues to pose direct and indirect threats to human beings.

From the observation made earlier in the paper, it is evident that the intensity of desertification is quite high due to the interaction of the causative factors where human factors integrate with the natural causes and enhance the impacts of desertification on human populations.

At this point, it is essential to mention that there is a need for nations across the world to cooperate to mitigate the natural causes because research that shows that most of the natural causes are necessitated by the human factors (World Information Transfer, 2009).

According to the World Information Transfer (2009), people who live in or around the areas that are intensely affected by desertification are prone to a wide variation of dangers.

This is an indicator that desertification alters the ecosystem to the level that the ecosystem becomes completely unsustainable.

The populations that inhabit drylands are vulnerable because of the marginalization that is caused by the inability of these populations to carry out sustainable economic practices, like agriculture.

Among the direct and indirect effects of desertification are the acute shortage of water and food, increased secondary risks like fires, conflicts based on resources, limited access to health care services, and the mass migration of populations.

The interaction of these effects poses worse conditions for the survival of human beings.

The failure to fully enforce the issues in the conservation of the environment as agreed in the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification continues to expose human beings to an environment that is unsustainable (World Information Transfer, 2009).

Objectives of the multinational environmental agreement

Environmental studies denote that the world shares a single atmosphere. Thus the activities happening in one region of the world have immense effects on other regions of the world. The world shares a single ecosystem known as the global ecosystem.

Therefore, it is upon all countries to embrace sustainable environmental practices if at all a sustainable global environment is to be attained.

Most conventions on environmental management reiterate the need for cooperation to limit the dangers that are posed by desertification to the environment, making the global environment unfit for human habitation (World Information Transfer, 2009).

One of the core objectives of the Kyoto Protocol is to ensure that countries develop long-term strategies on mitigating desertification. Countries enter into agreements because of the realization of the universal nature of the problem of environmental degradation.

Thus, the other objective of the agreements is to foster cooperation among countries to attain collaboration in the promotion of a desert free environment. National action programs in countries that are immensely affected by drought and desertification need a boost from other countries.

This is critical in ensuring that the capacity of individual countries to implement diverse programs on desertification is increased.

The conditions of desertification, especially in countries that have become frail, make the environmental state in the world worse off when frail countries are not supported (ANPED, 2013).

Contemporary developments denote the increase in shared knowledge and cooperation between countries. This is exhibited in terms of the expatriation of technical knowledge and expertise, as well as the extension of support in the war against desertification.

This is a pointer to the increased concerns of all countries in the world about the implications of desertification on a long term basis.

Indications of resolving desertification

Desertification is a complex issue. The complexity of the problem emanates from the dynamism of its causes and the potential for expansion of the arid conditions if not effectively mitigated (World Information Transfer, 2009).

The Kyoto Protocol and its specifications reiterate the need for countries to pull their resources to put an end to unsustainable human practices and their effect on the environment.

The protocol is largely seen as a comprehensive global strategy of limiting the impacts of human beings on the natural environment. This further limits the resultant impacts of human degradation of the natural environment, like desertification.

A number of results that point to the mitigation of desertification are brought out within the framework of cooperation laid down in the Kyoto Protocol.

First of all is the issue of collective responsibility in limiting the degradation practices. Reducing the emission of greenhouse gases by countries will promote favorable climatic conditions, which will further boost the sustenance of natural ecosystems like rivers and forests.

Also, the penalty that is imposed on countries that contribute highly to the emission of toxic substances in the atmosphere is used to establish sustainable practices in other ecologically disadvantaged regions of the world (ANPED, 2013).

An example is the increased funding for the afforestation and re-afforestation programs that have been rolled out across the world. These programs are vital in mitigating desertification.

Achievements of the agreement

So far, more nations across the world are showing commitment to the considerations highlighted in the Kyoto Protocol.

The most interesting thing is that even the countries that are not parties to the agreement are feeling pressured by other countries to make concessions about the environment to enhance sustainable environmental practices for the sake of the sustainability of the present and the future world (World Information Transfer, 2009).

The concerns that are raised about the sustainable practices are critical parameters that are present in the Kyoto Protocol on the environment and climate change. They trigger research about the modalities of enhancing sustainable practices across the world.

Most of the researches focus on the balance between economic/human activities and the sustainability of the natural ecosystems, which are critical in combating desertification and minimizing the impacts of greenhouse gases on the environment.

An example is the environmental studies that are being conducted by a substantial number of researchers in the Amazon region.

These studies mainly aim at developing critical recommendations on how to strike a balance between environmental sustainability and economic activities (World Information Transfer, 2009).

The other important thing to note about the agreement is that it has seen the disbursement of funds to support sustainable practices in different regions of the world (ANPED, 2013).

This comes as more countries continue to embrace sustainable industrial practices as a way of positioning themselves in the global stage as safe havens for business.

Originally proposed solutions for effectively combating desertification

The debate on sustainable environmental practices across the globe initially pointed to the need for developing long-term solutions to the problems of sustainability that were witnessed across the globe.

The main solutions to the problem of desertification are in the 1994 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

The proposed solutions in the convention depicted the need for nations to cooperate through the development of anti-desertification programs at the regional and international levels.

One of the critical considerations in the subject of desertification is the need for the harmonization of the socioeconomic activities and the conservation activities conducted by man.

Therefore, the originally proposed solutions to the problem of desertification are based on the development of a policy framework that guides land-use practices as a way of reducing the level at which the unsustainable practices are embraced by human beings.

This solution is founded on the establishment of a collaborative environment that brings in individuals, governments, as well as non-governmental actors in mitigating desertification (European Space Agency, n.d.).

Therefore, it can be argued that the original solutions were quite broad. The contemporary solutions are specific because they seek to attend to each factor to attain incremental results in the fight against desertification.

Original solutions concentrated on solidifying the policy environment, while the contemporary and future solutions concentrate on the enforcement of policy by turning policy into real conservation projects.


ANPED (2013). Conventions and protocols relevant to sustainable development (chronological). Web.

European Space Agency. (n.d.). . Web.

Geist, H. J., & Lambin, E. F. (2004). Dynamic causal patterns of desertification. BioScience, 54(9), 817-829.

Schwirzenbeck, M., Körber, C., & Barth, K. (2008). The Kyoto Protocol. München, Germany: GRIN Verlag.

United Nations. (2007). Multilateral treaty framework: An invitation to universal participation: Focus 2007: Towards universal participation and implementation: a comprehensive legal framework for peace, development and human rights. New York, NY: United Nations.

World Information Transfer. (2009). Special focus: desertification: Its effects on people and land. World Ecology Report, 21(1), 1-16.

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