To mark the United Nations Year of Deserts and Desertification 2006, a package of new TV programmes are being lined up by TVE Asia Pacific's partner, dev.tv.
The Geneva-based Swiss foundation has produced a special edition of the BBC World Debate, as well as a series of documentaries that look at land degradation and the spread of deserts in different regions of the world.
The BBC World TV debate was filmed on 5 October 2006 at the headquarters of IUCN – the World Conservation Union. Titled Advancing Sands: Deserts and Migration, it was moderated by BBC newscaster Zeinab Badawi and involved six internationally renowned panelists:
The debate covered the impact of population and livestock increase on fragile dryland ecosystems, and to what extent desertification contributes to ethnic conflict and human migration.
After the initial BBC World broadcast, the Debate will be offered to all interested regional and national TV stations. TVE Asia Pacific has made arrangements with dev.tv to distribute the debate to broadcasters in the Asia Pacific region, free of a license fee. Contact TVEAP Distribution at:
Meanwhile, dev.tv and One Planet Pictures have jointly produced Villages on the Front Line, an eight-part series documenting the struggle against land degradation and water shortage. Case studies have come from villages in China, Jordan, Tanzania, the wider Caribbean, Morocco, Niger, India and Spain. Each film is introduced by a local presenter.
The new series will start its initial weekly broadcasts on BBC World on 10 November 2006. After the BBC World broadcast, it will be shown on the dev.tv broadband channel and distributed to various regional and national TV channels worldwide. This series will be available in the Asia Pacific region from TVE Asia Pacific in early 2007. Contact TVEAP Distribution at:
Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas. It is a gradual process of the loss of soil productivity and the thinning out of the vegetative cover resulting from human activities and climatic variations such as prolonged droughts and floods. The land's topsoil, which takes centuries to build up, can be blown or washed away in a few seasons. Among human causal factors are over-cultivation, overgrazing, deforestation and poor irrigation practices. Such overexploitation is generally caused by economic and social pressure, ignorance, war and drought.
According to the UN, desertification is a worldwide problem directly affecting 250 million people and more than 4 billion hectares of land – one third of the Earth's surface area. In addition, desertification threatens the livelihoods of some one billion people who depend on land for most of their needs and are usually the world's poorest, in more than 100 countries.
With the adoption in 1994 of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the issue was given proper political recognition. Desertification as a global challenge, together with Climate Change and Biodiversity, now enjoys the support of a strong coalition of partners. But, according to the UNCCD Secretariat, public awareness has not kept pace. In relation to the true scope and magnitude of the problem, “desertification still receives too little attention and is little understood by the public at large.”
The new films will help fill part of this gap.
Desert Nights film festival
An international film festival on desertification and drylands will take place from 1 to 7 December in Rome, Italy. It is sponsored by the Italian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Cultural Heritage.
Named 'Desert Nights', the festival’s films will portray real-life stories of people and communities in the drylands, and will be part of a competition to find the best fiction films from countries affected by Desertification within the five regions of the convention: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern Mediterranean, and Central and Eastern Europe.
The festival will conclude with a ceremony and gala soiree attended by representatives of international authorities, film directors and other well-known personalities in the world of arts and culture.
Click here to enter festival’s website