The UAE leads the region in combating desertification through proactive strategies and solutions. This is evident by the expansion of green spaces and protected areas. The country boasts 49 natural reserves, with 33 terrestrial reserves exceeding 13,069.8 square kilometres in total area.

Tomorrow, the UAE will celebrate "World Environment Day", which falls on June 5th of each year, and this year is being held under the slogan "Our Land. Our Future. We are #GenerationRestoration", focusing on land restoration, combating desertification and building drought resilience around the world.

Over the past five decades, the UAE has taken many measures and steps to protect land from degradation and combat desertification, such as the National Biodiversity Strategy, the National Strategy to Combat Desertification 2022-2023, the Blue Carbon Project, the Aerial Mapping Plan for Agricultural Areas, the "Our Palms" Initiative, and plans to support organic agriculture, expand the total area and increase their number, as well as organic crop production farms.

The UAE has successfully transformed vast areas of desert land into green spaces, gardens, and farms. According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE), the UAE has over 38,000 farms employing diverse agricultural practices and production systems.

The UAE has expanded the construction of dams, which have contributed to providing irrigation water for forests and agricultural land. The country has also established research centres and experimental stations that focus on research and development activities in the field of combating desertification and monitoring climate change. Additionally, it has established an international centre specialised in saline agriculture to conduct research on salt-tolerant plants and expand their cultivation.

The UAE is one of the first countries in the region to adopt artificial rain as an innovative means of combating desertification and drought and increasing green spaces. It also contributes to enhancing water resources and reducing the impacts of climate change.

MoCCAE has implemented a project to use drones to conduct a comprehensive survey of agricultural areas in the country, to enhance the restoration of degraded areas, protect and develop existing agricultural areas. The ministry has also employed drone technology to sow and plant 6,250,000 seeds of local trees “Ghaf” and "Samar" in 25 selected locations across the country. The germination process is currently being monitored and followed up on.

In its second report to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the UAE has raised its ambitious target for planting mangrove trees from 30 to 100 million seedlings by 2030. This will significantly enhance the protection of soil and natural habitats, in addition to the role of these targeted forests in enhancing the UAE's ability to address climate change challenges and reduce its causes.

On the global level, the UAE has signed several agreements in the field of combating desertification, including the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which was adopted in 1994. The UAE has also hosted and participated in meetings at international and regional levels to address this important environmental issue.

In November 2022, the UAE joined the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA) launched by Spain and Senegal, with the support of the UNCCD, to stimulate momentum and mobilise resources for targeted actions to build drought resilience in countries, cities, and communities.

The UAE's foreign assistance has contributed to strengthening efforts to combat the causes of desertification and convert desert lands into agricultural land, and to increase the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices in many countries around the world.

The COP28 climate summit, hosted by the UAE in 2023, provided an opportunity to mobilise global efforts and exchange experiences and expertise to address the impacts of climate change that the planet is witnessing, foremost among which are desertification and drought.