Desertification and Degradation Risks vs Poverty: A Key Topic in Mediterranean Europe

Jesús Rodrigo-Comino, Rosanna Salvia, Gianluca Egidi, Luca Salvati, Antonio Giménez-Morera, Giovanni Quaranta

Abstract


Land degradation and, subsequently, desertification processes are conditioned by biophysical factors and human impacts. Nowadays, there is an increasing interest by social scientists to assess its implications. Especially, it is relevant to the potential changes and landscape deterioration on population, economic systems and feedbacks of local societies to such adjustments. Assessing social facets should also be related to desertification risks, integrated socio-economic inputs and environmentally sustainable development perspectives. However, investigations about the effects of land degradation conditioned by global socioeconomic-factors from a holistic point of view are scarce. In this review, we pretend to discuss past and recent findings on land degradation risks related to poverty, especially based on Mediterranean Europe. To achieve this goal, we focused on key socioeconomic forces such as developmental policy, production and market structure, social change and population mobility. Our review showed that regional disparities based on complex dynamics of demographic forces (e.g. migration, fertility and ageing) and economic drivers of change (e.g. industrial concentration, urbanization, crop intensification, tourism pressure, coastalization) are keys to understand Mediterranean regions such as Southern Italy, a region exposed to high desertification risk in Europe. We concluded that the overexploitation of territories, soil and water degradation urban expansion, tourism and unplanned industrialization are some sectors and activities which can be highly affected by political and socioeconomic forces leading to unsustainable forms of land management and types of development. Special attention should be paid to social policies, education and training schemes to reduce rural migration and potentiate territorial knowledge to avoid land degradation, considering other social issues such as poverty or centralization. The potential role of win-win policies abating poverty and reducing desertification risk is evident in Mediterranean Europe and achieving land degradation neutrality necessary.


Keywords


Land degradation; regional geographical disparities; demographic dynamics; Social processes; Southern Europe

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18172/cig.4850

Copyright (c) 2021 Jesús Rodrigo Comino, Rosanna Salvia, Gianluca Egidi, Luca Salvati, Antonio Giménez-Morera, Giovanni Quaranta

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