During the United Nations General Assembly's 58th Ordinary Session in 2003, a decision was adopted declaring 2006 the International Year of Deserts and Desertification (IYDD). This paper critically reviews this International Year. It draws on the key outputs from IYDD events from across the globe to highlight the challenges and ways forward in both combating desertification and implementing the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The paper considers what the IYDD outputs mean for the current and historical controversies surrounding the desertification issue and presents an overall evaluation of the successes of IYDD for the different stakeholder groups within the desertification regime. It is concluded that while the International Year can be considered to have met the United Nations's four objectives: to address the long-term oriented implementation of the UNCCD; raise awareness of the implications of desertification; facilitate networking with all stakeholders; and disseminate information relating to the UNCCD, the real challenge lies in moving the IYDD outcomes away from the conferences, meetings and networks that contributed to their generation, towards a more concrete, tangible effort to conserve deserts and effectively monitor and control desertification and land degradation on the ground.\u
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