South-South cooperation Current Affairs - 2020

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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.

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Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnerships

Union Ministry of Commerce and Industries had organised a  Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnerships in association with Confederation of Indian Industry and EXIM Bank of India.

The conclave is held every year since its inception in 2005 brings together senior Ministers, policymakers, officials, business leaders, bankers, technologists, start-up entrepreneurs and other professionals from India and Africa on a common platform in a spirit of partnership.

Features of the Conclave

  • The conclave marks the pre-eminence of India-Africa partnership in the area of South-South Cooperation at a time when the global economy is faced with intractable challenges that stem from rising protectionism and trade conflicts.
  • The conclave acknowledges India’s ascendency as the fastest growing major economy, as well as Africa’s new economic dynamism illustrated by some of the Sub-Saharan economies which are among the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world.
  • The conclave is in line with the Indian Government’s broader vision of long-term engagement with Africa. India’s unflinching commitment to expanding the canvas of India-Africa economic partnership which is evident from the increase in bilateral trade between India and Africa by nearly 22% from last year touching USD 62.66 billion in the year 2017-18.

The deliberations during the conclave focused upon the potential areas for bilateral economic and business partnerships, core capabilities of Indian and African enterprises and opportunities for joint ventures thereof, innovative financing of significant development projects, skill development and capacity building.

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