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Conference Information


Workshop on Desertification in the Mediterranean Region. A Security Issue

Sponsors NATO Science Committee
NATO Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society
Location City of the Arts and Sciences, Valencia, Spain
(Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias)
Date 2-5 December 2003
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Desertification is defined by the United Nations Environment Programme as land degradation in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas of the world resulting from a combination of factors including climatic variations and human activities. Typically, the definition has focused on reduction and loss of the biological and economic productivity caused by land use change. Nowhere is this more apparent in the world today than in the Mediterranean Region.

Nearly one-half of the world's countries have portions or all of their land in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid environments and thus are subject to the processes of desertification. These lands account for 45 million km2, or approximately one-third of the Earth's surface. Land degradation is occurring at an alarming rate and estimated to affect over 1 billion people or one-fifth of the human population of the world. During the last half of the 20th Century these areas have come under increasing pressure from accelerating human impacts and adverse climate change. Severe conditions such as drought, famine, resource depletion, human migration, and economic disruption have been documented.

To begin alleviating these conditions requires long-term solutions based on solid research and accompanied by decision management processes. If people are to sustain themselves in the world's drylands they will especially need to be cognizant of the scarcity and security issues related to water and soil resources. This will require ready-access to the most current knowledge and research information regarding the condition and extent of resources. This also provides the opportunity to enlist new technologies and couple informed regulations and policies with environmental reform to maintain societal sustainability.

In October 2002, the NATO/CCMS Plenary Meeting in Vienna, Austria approved a proposal for a workshop on Desertification in the Mediterranean Region. The specific purpose of the workshop was to establish an expert working group of NATO member and partner Nations in combination with representative members from the Mediterranean Dialogue countries (i.e. Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia Exit EPA Disclaimer http://www.nato.int/med-dial/summary.htm) to exchange information about the issue of desertification in the Mediterranean Region.

The challenge to the working group was to identify regional causes of desertification and examine the consequences of past and future land use and physical processes. Additionally, it was our focus to explore the interactions between desertification and human migratory processes. To do this involved the understanding of the historical development of the problem, especially as it applied across different cultures and time-scales. The workshop provided the opportunity to apply new technologies and integrate both natural and social sciences within a framework for mutual international cooperation.

  Executive Summary [PDF, 4 pp., 95 KB]
  Programme [PDF, 12 pp., 372 KB]
  Book of Abstracts [PDF, 145 pp., 616 KB]
  Poster [PDF, 1 pp., 329 KB]
  NATO Newsletter [PDF, 1 pp., 22 KB]
  Related Websites
  Conference Photos

Further information on the conference can be obtained from:

William Kepner - kepner.william@epa.gov, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USA
Jose Rubio - jose.l.rubio@uv.es, University of Valencia, Spain
David Mouat - dmouat@dri.edu, Desert Research Institute, USA
Fausto Pedrazzini - f.pedrazzini@hq.nato.int, NATO Science Committee, Belgium


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