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Arid Lands cover about 1/3 of the world area and comprise of a belt extending from central and western Asia to north Africa, Australia, southern Africa, western American, Peru and Atacama. Water resources are very scarce due to three factors. Firstly, most of the surface water comes from adjacent wet regions. Secondly, the (under)ground water is mostly fossil and not renewable. Thirdly, rainfall is often hazardous.

Arid regions, especially in Africa, might have seen the first step of mankind. Therefore they lend themselves to geoarchaeological investigations to reconstruct the interaction of human and environment. Today, the human Impact differs among the arid land regions according to the cultural levels. Population pressure is very high in the arid regions of the Old World, while it is not so in the New World. For example, urban growth has contributed greatly to the problems of croplands. In general, human impact has exhausted local water resources. Development planning in several countries of the arid regions does not take into consideration liabilities of water shortage by initiating agricultural projects or digging water wells in the rangeland causing much damage to the fragile ecosystem.

These major aspects among others support the suggestion of establishing an IGU commission for "Arid Lands, Humankind, and Environment" that wants to