India to restore 26 mn hectares of degraded land by '30

India to restore 26 mn hectares of degraded land by '30

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the opening ceremony of the 14th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP14) to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification of in Greater Noida

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced that India would raise its target of restoring degraded land by an additional 5 million hectares (ha) by 2030.

The earlier target of 21 million hectares has now been revised upwards to 26 million, the prime minister said at the ongoing 14th session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), inaugurating the high-level segment of the global summit.

The revival will focus on restoring land productivity and ecosystem services of 26 million ha of most degraded and vulnerable (non-forest) land with an emphasis on degraded agricultural, forest and other wastelands by adopting a landscape restoration approach.

This is a part of India’s commitment to achieve land degradation neutrality, a flagship initiative under the UNCCD. To date, 122 of the 170 countries affected by land degradation have committed to achieving land degradation neutrality.

At the global summit, Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations rued the fact that 800 million people all over the world were still going to bed hungry.

“The crop yields are dropping while the demand for food is set to increase by 50% in the coming decades. Restoring 150 million hectares of farmland could feed 200 million more people every year. At the same time, it would provide an increased income of over $ 30 billion a year for small stakeholders and sink an additional 2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year,” she said.

The UNCCD is one of three global treaties that came out of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the other two being the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). India signed the UNCCD in 1994 and ratified it in 1996. The treaty comes into force in December 1996.

For each of the three UN green treaties, the Conference of Parties (CCOP) is the supreme decision-making body. India in the past hosted the CoPs for both UNFCCC (Delhi-2002) and CBD (Hyderabad, 2012).

Desertification affects two-third countries of the world impacting 250 million people and third of the earth's land surface, which comes to nearly four billion hectares. With nearly 30% of its lands being degraded, India has high stakes in the treaty.

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