INDIA TO RESTORE DEGRADED LAND
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India will restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, more than its earlier target of 21 million hectares, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a UN conference to combat desertification.
- The agenda of the UN conference is to reverse degradation of land and fix critical gaps in its management.
- This target would be achieved with an emphasis on “degraded agricultural, forest and other wastelands by adopting a landscape restoration approach.” This would also address water scarcity, enhance water recharge in forests, slow down water run-off and retain soil moisture.
- India faces a severe problem of land degradation, or soil becoming unfit for cultivation. About 29% or about 96.4 million hectares are considered degraded.
- This January, India became part of the “Bonn Challenge”, a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
- At the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) 2015 in Paris, India also joined the voluntary Bonn Challenge and pledged to bring into restoration 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020, and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030. India’s pledge was one of the largest in Asia.
- Globally, about 2 billion hectares of land, an area twice the size of China, face degradation and around 12 million hectares are lost to desertification every year. The cost of combating this menace has been estimated at $450 billion annually.
- Noting the gigantic task where over 2/3rd of countries face impact of desertification globally, Prime Minister announced to set up a ‘centre of excellence’ at Dehradun to help developing countries in addressing land degradation issues and offered help to friendly nations for developing land degradation strategies through India’s “cost effective satellite and space technology.
- Established in 1994.
- It is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.
- It is the only convention stemming from a direct recommendation of the Rio Conference’s Agenda 21.
- To help publicise the Convention, 2006 was declared “International Year of Deserts and Desertification”.
- Focus areas: The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
- Aim: Its 197 Parties aim, through partnerships, to implement the Convention and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The end goal is to protect land from over-use and drought, so it can continue to provide food, water and energy.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the nodal Ministry for this Convention.
- The 14th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 14) is hosted by in New Delhi.
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