The Harper government has made Canada the only country in the world to withdraw from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

The Canadian Press reports, “Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians said drought is now ‘a life and death issue’ for millions around the world. ‘Pulling out of these talks is simply the worst thing Canada could do and this is the worst time for the Canadian government to be pulling a stunt like this,’ Barlow said in an email.”

Barlow also commented, “Drought and desertification are growing in over 100 countries in the world. Our relentless over pumping of groundwater and damming and diversions of rivers for the global food trade are destroying water tables around the world.”

CTV adds, “Established in 1994 following the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the UNCCD aims to fight increasing desertification and land degradation. Desertification is defined by the UN as ‘the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas.’ It is caused when dryland ecosystems, vulnerable to over-exploitation, are used inappropriately. …Every UN nation — a total of 194 countries and the European Union — is part of the convention. Canada was one of the first countries to sign the UNCCD in 1994. Now it is the first to walk away.”

“The withdrawal from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification was ordered last week by the federal cabinet on the recommendation of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, but only made public Wednesday. …Sources told CTV News that the decision was made more than a year ago as part of the government’s plan to cut the deficit. It was announced to the affected departments a few months ago and there was little, if any, consultation, they said. …Documents show that the government committed to providing around $350,000 a year to the convention.”

“Canada’s withdrawal comes before a major meeting about the convention in Bonn, Germany, next month.”

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