Desertification Current Affairs - 2019

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India to restore 50 lakh hectare of degraded land by 2030: Environment Minister

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar announced that India has set target to restore 50 lakh hectare of its degraded land by 2030. He made this announcement at curtain raiser event for 14th meeting of Conference of Parties to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP14) to be held in India for first time from September 2-13, 2019. India will take President of COP14 for two years from China.

Announcements made

29% land of India’s total geographical area is degraded which has to be restored and will be the agenda of COP14 summit.

Centre of excellence to combat desertification of fertile land will be set up at Forest Research Institute (FRI) in Dehradun. It will study the causes of desertification and devise solutions and technologies for land degradation neutrality. It will also function as resource and training centre.

UNCCD COP14

It will be held from 2 to 13 September 2019 at India Expo Centre & Mart, Greater Noida. 12 day event will be attended by over 5000 participants, including 3000 international delegates from 196 countries. Nearly 200 countries have confirmed their participation in this mega event.

About United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

It had entered into force in December 1996. It is one of three Rio Conventions along with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). India became its signatory in October 1994 and ratified it in December 1996.  It is only legally binding international agreement to address problem of land degradation, desertification and other land issues.

Main objective:

(i) To combat desertification and mitigate effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought or desertification.

(ii) To involve long-term integrated strategies in affected areas, for improving productivity of land, and rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable management of land and water resources, leading to improved living conditions, in particular at community level.

Features: Its 197 parties work together to-

(i) improve living conditions for people in drylands

(ii) mitigate the effects of drought

(iii) maintain and restore land and soil productivity.

It is committed to bottom-up approach by encouraging participation of local people in combating land degradation and desertification.

17 June: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCDD) is being observed globally on 17 June 2019. According to United Nation (UN), Desertification means degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas and that Desertification does not refer to expansion of existing deserts.

Key Highlights

Background: WDCDD was proclaimed on 30 January 1995 by United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) resolution A/RES/49/115, after the day when United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was drafted. In 2019, UNCCD also celebrates 25 years of progress made by countries on sustainable land management.

Theme for year 2019 is- Let’s Grow the Future Together, which reflects on 25 years of progress and envisioning next 25 years.

Objective: The day is observed every year to promote public awareness about presence of desertification and drought, highlighting methods of preventing desertification and also about international efforts to combat desertification.

Concern: As per United Nation (UN), world is losing 24 billion tons of fertile soil ever year and  National Domestic Product (NDP) in developing countries is reduced by up to 8 % annually due to dryland degradation.

Siginificance: WDCDD is a unique occasion that serves as a reminder global community that desertification can be effectively tackled and that solutions are possible with tools such as strengthening community participation and cooperation at all levels.

India’s efforts towards Combating Desertification

Various initiatives by government for tackling desertification issue includes- Per Drop More Crops (for proper water management), Soil Health Card Scheme and Neem Coated Urea for farmers that will help increase the area of cultivated land.

In last 5 years forest cover in India has increased and the government is committed towards improving it further as well for working towards betterment of farmer and environment protection.

India seeks to set an example in combating desertification and also shows readiness to cooperate with world in this direction.