United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
On behalf of Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, it is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this international scientific conference.
Drylands are often considered fragile ecosystems, yet they have a remarkable resilience to stress. They are home to unique and well-adapted plant and animal species that we need to conserve. Some of the world's greatest cultures and belief systems have originated in drylands. On the other hand, desertification and land degradation in drylands often result in poverty and cause environmental refugees to abandon their homes. These problems can only be addressed in a holistic manner, based on sound scientific research and findings. Solutions to the problems of dryland degradation need to be communicated as widely as possible through education at all levels.