14th UNCCD COP Current Affairs - 2020

PM raises India’s target to restore degraded land to 26 million hectares by 2030

Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised India’s target for restoring degraded land from its earlier target of 21 million hectares (MH) to 26 million hectares (MH) by 2030. The announcement was made by PM Modi while speaking at the high level segment at 14th session of Conference of Parties (COP) to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

UNCCD COP-14 is being hosted by India this time and as many as 196 countries, 70 environment ministers and over 8,000 delegates from across globe are participating in 12-day conference from September 2 to September 13 being held at Greater Noida. Agenda of UN conference is to reverse degradation of land and fix critical gaps in its management.

Key Highlights

At the conference the participant nations are brainstorming on ways to tackle land desertification with over 120 countries setting land degradation neutrality target for 2030. The outcome of the conference i.e. ‘New Delhi Declaration’, which will lay down measures to combat desertification, will be released.

PM Modi reiterated India’s resolve to tackle the problem of plastic waste and stressed upon initiatives for greater South-South Cooperation in addressing issues of climate change, biodiversity and land degradation.

He also called upon leadership of UNCCD to conceive global water action agenda which is central to Land Degradation Neutrality strategy, which has been defined by parties to UNCCD as ‘a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems’.

India will also setup a global technical support institute for UNCCD member countries for their capacity building and support regarding Land Degradation Neutrality.

India uses remote sensing and space technology for multiple applications such as land restoration, therefore, PM announced that India could help friendly countries develop land restoration strategies through cost effective satellite technology.

Why addressing land degradation important? When we address degraded lands, we also address water scarcity, thereby augmenting water supply, enhancing water recharge, slowing down water run-off and retaining moisture in soil are all parts of a holistic land and water strategy. Thus, restoring health of land is critical for sustainable development.

Land desertification is the biggest environment challenge which the world is facing as latest data shows that one third (33%) of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are emitted from land degradation. Climate change along with human activities have facilitated land degradation which poses threat to humanity and potentially dire consequences and nearly 50% of people on earth are affected by impact of climate change and natural calamities.

Significance

Since 30% of India’s total land area has been hit by land degradation, therefore the country has high stakes in land restoration. If this target of restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 is realised, it would be one of the biggest environmental achievements for the country.

Some steps taken in the direction

  • In between 2015-2017, tree cover and forest cover of country increased by 0.8 million hectares.
  • Centre government has created Jal Shakti Ministry to recognise value of water in all forms.
  • Zero liquid discharge policy has been imposed on many industries.

14th UNCCD COP inaugurated at Greater Noida

The 12-day 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) inaugurated at India Expo Centre & Mart, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

During the meet, Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Prakash Javadekar expressed that mass awareness and public participation is the need of the hour as be it climate change or desertification, human actions have a role in disturbing balance of nature.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the high-level segment meeting on 9 September 2019.

Key Highlights

Participants: An estimated 7,200 participants including ministers and representatives of governments, intergovernmental and non-government organizations, scientists, women and youth from 197 Parties are expected.

COP will take around 30 decisions with actions that aim to strengthen land-use policies worldwide and address emerging threats which includes forced migration, sand and dust storms, and droughts.

122 countries which includes Russia, China, Brazil, India, South Africa and Nigeria which are among the largest and most populous nations on Earth have agreed to make Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of achieving land degradation neutrality a national target.

Significance: Such large scale conferences holds importance as many countries come together at a world platform like this to share good stories and experiences that will help the world. UNCCD is very important as it is expected that some good outcomes which will be notified in Delhi Declaration, which will form the future course of action.

About UN Convention to Combat Desertification

UNCCD is an international agreement on good land stewardship (carefully and responsibly conducting, supervising or managing).

It helps countries, people and communities to create wealth, grow economies and secure sufficient food, water and energy. It ensures that land users have an enabling environment for sustainable land management.

The 197 Parties to Convention, through partnerships set up robust systems to manage drought promptly and effectively.

Good land stewardship based on a sound policy and science helps integrate and accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), builds resilience to climate change and prevents biodiversity loss.

NOTE:

In 2019, India being the global host for COP 14 will take over COP Presidency from China for next 2 years i.e. till 2021.

India among selected few countries to have hosted COP of all 3 Rio conventions on climate change, biodiversity and land. Now by hosting COP 14, India will highlight its leadership in navigating land management agenda at global level and will also provide a stage to mainstream sustainable land management in country’s national development policies.