When the whistle blows heralding the start of 2006, it will kick off a busy and varied twelve months of activity to mark the International Year. The aim is to leave no-one on the sidelines. As expected, the International Year will have its fair share of international flavour, which will be reflected in the geographical mix of events planned. Each country, each organization, each one of us has their own unique contribution to make, adding difference and diversity to the calendar. Certain days are earmarked for special attention, including the 17 th of June, the World Day to Combat Desertification, which will be one of the highlights of the Year to be celebrated worldwide.
 
Throughout the Year, activities are being organized at local, national and international level and everyone is encouraged to participate. The rich and varied nature of events being organized is guaranteed to appeal to a wide audience. From academics to museum goers to film buffs, there is something for everyone.
 
Conferences, workshops and seminars on the theme of deserts and Desertification will also address the important link between land degradation, poverty and migration. In addition, a number of cultural events are planned which aim to raise awareness of the social and cultural dimensions of Deserts and Desertification.
 
We encourage people not only to participate, but also to come up with ideas for organizing events of their own. Therefore, while this is a comprehensive list, it is by no means exhaustive.