United Nations University

The United Nations University (UNU) is the academic arm of the United Nations (UN). It bridges the academic world and the UN system. Its goal is to develop sustainable solutions for current and future problems of humankind in all aspects of life. Through a problem-oriented and interdisciplinary approach it aims at applied research and education on a global scale. UNU was founded in 1973 and is an autonomous organ of the UN General Assembly. The University comprises headquarters Tokyo, Japan, and more than a dozen Institutes and Programmes worldwide.

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InterSecTions No. 1: Nothing Begets Nothing by Dr. Vlek

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Creeping environmental deteriorations – even if their consequences entail economic loss as well as a direct threat to the survival of human societies – are among the hidden and forgotten disasters. As knowledge-based awareness raising of political decision makers, the public, scientists and the media is one of the most prominent tasks of UNU-EHS, the present issue of InterSecTions, the publication series of UNU-EHS, is dedicated to address one of the most menacing ‘hidden disasters’ currently affecting human security, namely land degradation. InterSecTions is being published and presented at the UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction (January 2005 in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan), where all these target groups shall gather.

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In his thorough analysis of the world wide phenomena of land and soil degradation, Professor Paul L. G. Vlek draws a bleak picture. Not only that land and soil degradation is progressing at an alarming pace, having repercussions on food production and the environment; but, more alarmingly, these issues are still missing on the political agenda.

Raising awareness does not mean to raise fears. However, ignoring the problems would only undermine our ability to address them adequately and in a timely manner. Keeping this principle in mind, UNU-EHS is prepared to assist decision makers and to contribute to enhance human security.