Condemn Canada for Backing Out of Efforts to Fight Desertification

Target: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Goal: Condemn the decision to withdraw from a UN convention intended to address desertification, drought, and climate change

The Canadian government has quietly announced that it has withdrawn its membership from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), a UN body intended to help address the impending challenges of desertification, drought, and climate change. The Convention’s primary focus is on countries in the developing world whose entire agricultural systems are in some cases threatened by worsening desertification, such as much of sub-Saharan Africa. Stephen Harper’s government is turning its back on the people of the world who are already dealing with desertification’s effects.

Harper called the UNCCD a useless “talkshop” that accomplishes little, but his government’s contribution to the organization was about $325,000 a year. He claimed he was withdrawing because he saw it as a waste of money, but for the government of a developed country like Canada, that sum is paltry. While he is probably truthful about his motives, saving Canadian taxpayers just $325,000 a year at the expense of millions of poor farmers in Africa on the brink is a dismayingly selfish action.

The Canadian opposition parties have accused Harper of turning his back on Africa, and they are broadly right. Harper accused the UNCCD of wasting its money, but the purpose of the organization is to work toward understanding and combatting desertification. Notably, Canada’s decision to pull out makes it the only country of the 194 UN member states who is not a member.

The Canadian government under Stephen Harper has been obstructive on climate change issues in the past, but this willingness to ignore serious threats to some of the world’s most vulnerable people is a grave error and deserves categorical condemnation. Sign the petition below to tell Stephen Harper and his government that their decision was selfish and should be reversed.


Dear Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

Your government’s recent decision to withdraw Canada from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification is incredibly alarming. It makes Canada the only country in the entire United Nations not to be a member of the Convention. You complained that the organization wastes its money, but what it does is spend money to research and organize to prepare for the threat of drought and desertification, which poses a serious threat to some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

Your government’s decision to withdraw was an extremely poorly made choice. I am writing to ask you to reconsider and rejoin the rest of the world in caring for the world’s poor and the future of the environment and the global agricultural system. Please reverse your decision to exit the Convention.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: vodkamax via Flickr

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67 Signatures

  • Ana Maria Mainhardt Carpes
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