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June 17: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year on June 17 to promote public awareness to combat desertification.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had designated June 17 as the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought in 1994. It was observed for the first time in 1995. The day is observed globally to promote public awareness on the issue, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in those countries experiencing serious desertification or drought, particularly in Africa.

This year’s theme for World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is “Our Land. Our Home. Our Future“.  This edition will examine the link between land degradation and migration. Among others, Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices are responsible for desertification. They have increased the number of international migrants worldwide who have increased from 173 million in 2000 to 244 million in 2015.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development especially the Goal 15 emphasises the need to halt and reverse land degradation.

Desertification

Desertification refers to degradation of land in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas due to an array of factors. The direct impact of desertification is reduced biodiversity. The reasons are many such as climatic changes such as drought, or human such as overgrazing. Desertification is a major economic, social and environmental problem of concern to many countries in all regions of the world. In 1977, the United Nations Conference on Desertification (UNCOD) adopted a Plan of Action to Combat Desertification (PACD).

On 17 June 1994, on the basis of the direct recommendation of Agenda 21, “United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa” was adopted in Paris. The permanent Secretariat of the UNCCD was established during the first Conference of the Parties (COP 1) held in Rome in 1997. It has been located in Bonn, Germany since January 1999.

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India ratifies Two Fundamental Global Conventions to combat Child Labour

India has ratified two key global conventions for combating child labour as a step towards creating full respect for fundamental rights at work.

Salient Highlights

India has deposited the instruments of ratification of the two fundamental ILO Conventions with the International Labour Office (ILO). The two key conventions are related to the elimination of child labour- the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No 138) and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182). 

India has become the 170th member of ILO to ratify the Convention No. 138, which requires the member parties to set a minimum age under which no one should be employed in any occupation, except for light work and artistic performances.

India has become the 181st member of ILO to ratify Convention No 182 which requires state parties to prohibit and eliminate worst forms of child labour, including slavery, forced labour and trafficking;  the use of children in armed conflict; the use of a child for prostitution, pornography and in illicit activities such as drug trafficking; and hazardous work.

The elimination of Child Labour from the country is also essential to achieve Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The ratification of these conventions will help in achieving Goal 8 of the sustainable development goals which aims at complete eradication of child labour by 2025 and calls for prohibition and elimination of its worst forms.

Government Initiatives

The government has recently amended the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 which came into effect in September 2016. This amendment prohibits employment of children below 14 years in any occupation or process. It also prohibits the employment of adolescents (14 to 18 years) in hazardous occupations and processes.

The government has also strengthened the National Child Labour Project. It is a rehabilitative scheme that provides bridge education and vocational training to adolescents.

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India ranks 110th on Sustainable Development index

India has been ranked a low 110th out of 149 countries on Sustainable Development index (SDI).

The SDI assesses countries where they stand with regard to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also their progress and ensuring accountability.

Key Facts

  • Top 10 Countries: Sweden (1st), Denmark (2nd), Norway (3rd), Finland (4th), Switzerland (5th), Germany (6th), Austria (7th), Netherlands (8th), Iceland (9th) and United Kingdom (10th).
  • Bottom 5 Countries: Chad (145th), Niger (146th), Congo (147th), Liberia (148th) and Central African Republic (149th).
  • India’s neighbours: Pakistan (115th), Myanmar (117th), Bangladesh (118th) and Afghanistan (139th).
  • BIRCS: Russia (47th), China (76th) and India (110th).
  • The countries closest to fulfilling the SDGs are not the biggest economies but comparably small, developed countries.
  • Poor and developing countries score lowest on the SDG Index as they have little resources at their disposal.
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries struggle to meet the goals on climate change, inequality, sustainable consumption and ecosystems.
  • Developing countries face major difficulties in providing basic social services and infrastructure access to their populations.
  • For Latin America and the Caribbean countries face challenge of high levels of inequality among the most pressing issues.
  • East and South Asia outperform many other developing regions but unmet challenges mostly persist in health and education.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa which is the world’s poorest region faces major challenges across almost all SDGs, with extreme poverty, hunger and health as major areas.

About Sustainable Development index (SDI)

  • The SDI seeks to help countries identify gaps that must be closed in order to achieve SDGS by 2030 and to identify priorities for early action.
  • The new index was launched by Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Bertelsmann Stiftung.
  • Methodology: SDI ranks countries based on their performance across the 17 global SDGs. The index helps countries to identify priorities for early actions.

About Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

SDGs are 17 global non-binding goals featuring 169 targets to be implemented from 2015 to 2030. These goals and targets are a set of ambitious objectives across the three dimensions of sustainable development viz. economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability, underpinned by good governance.

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