At the 14th Conference of Parties (COP) meeting of the United Nations Convention To Combat Desertification, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that India will restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
This was an increase from 21 million hectares announced by the Environment Minister prior to the CoP.
- This is for the first time that the COP of UNCCD is being held in India. The meeting is taking place at New Delhi.
- Land degradation is a serious issue in the country. About 29% of the land in the country is degraded. This is leading to desertification.
- To arrest this desertification, PM has announced to restore 26 million hectares of land. Earlier, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has announced to restore 50 lakh hectares of degraded land or 21 million hectares.
- At the meet, PM has also stated that between 2015 and 2017, the forest and tree cover in the country has increased by 0.8 million hectares.
- It is the policy of the government to combat climate change and its effects of desertification. The government is fully committed to achieving sustainable development goals.
- PM noted that climate change is leading to land degradation in the form of rising sea levels, wave action, erratic rainfall, sand storms etc.
- PM stated that land degradation, if not prevented will become irreversible. It will impact health and render the land unproductive.
- He further noted that India is using technologies like remote sensing and other space technologies to combat desertification.
‘Goodbye to Single-use Plastic’
- Also at the meet, PM has announced that starting from October 2, India will put an end to single-use plastic.
- He also called upon the world community to say goodbye to single-use plastic.
- Land degradation and water scarcity go hand-in-hand. Highlighting this relationship, PM has stated that as part of holistic fland and water strategy augmenting water supply, slowing down water run-off, retaining soil moisture, enhancing water recharge etc form a part.
Global Technical Support Institute
- At the meet, India announced that it will set up aglobal technical support institute for UNCCD members for capacity building and support regarding Land Degradation Neutrality.
- Land Degradation Neutrality – It is referred to as a state where the quality and quantity of land resources remain stable or increases such that it will support the necessary ecosystem functions and services.
- Prime Minister said that India is ready to propose initiatives for south-south cooperation in tackling climate change, biodiversity and land degradation issues.
- He called upon the leadership of UNCCD to take up global water action agenda for Land Degradation Neutrality strategy.
Desertification is one of the major threats the humanity is facing. It is being aggravated by climate change and human activities.
The New Delhi Declaration, that will be announced at the end of the COP 14 will layout measures to tackle desertification.
As the president of the convention for the next two years, India will be looking to assume a leadership role and will plan to achieve its targets by 2030.