Addressing COP14, PM calls upon the UNCCD leadership to conceive global water action agenda
GN Bureau | September 9, 2019
Addressing the Conference of Parties (COP14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced that India would raise its target of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares between now and 2030.
“Going forward, India would be happy to propose initiatives for greater South-South cooperation in addressing issues of climate change, biodiversity and land degradation,” the prime minister told a gathering heads of states, environment ministers and activists from around the world gathered for the 12-day meeting at Greater Noida, near Delhi.
On this occasion Modi also called upon the leadership of UNCCD to conceive a global water action agenda which is central to the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) strategy.
At this meeting, India took over from China the presidency of the COP, and Modi said the country “looks forward to making an effective contribution” during the two-year term.
Climate and environment impact both biodiversity and land, he said, emphasising that it is widely accepted that the world is facing the negative impact of climate change. “Climate change is also leading to land degradation of various kinds be it due to rise in sea levels and wave action, erratic rainfall and storms, and sand storms caused by hot temperatures.”
Reiterating India’s commitment to the global cooperation against climate change, the prime minister recalled that the country had hosted global gatherings through the CoPs for all the three Conventions. “This reflects our commitment to addressing all the three main concerns of the Rio Conventions.” He added.
“Today, I am reminded of India’s NDCs [nationally determined contributions] that were submitted at the Paris CoP of the UNFCCC. It highlighted India’s deep cultural roots of maintaining a healthy balance between land, water, air, trees and all living beings.”
Modi shared with the gathering that “only last week, funds amounting to nearly six billion US dollars have been released to the state governments in lieu of such diversion for development of forest lands.”
He also noted that his Government has launched a programme to double the income of farmers by increasing crop yield through various measures, including land restoration and micro-irrigation. “We are working with a motto of per drop more crop. At the same time, we are also focusing on Zero budget natural farming.”
To address land degradation neutrality (LDN), water management is also an important issue, and keeping that in mind, the Modi government has created a “Jal Shakti Ministry”, unifying various arms of the government to address all water related important issues in totality. Not only that, he added, “I am happy to state that India would be happy to help other friendly countries develop land restoration strategies through cost effective satellite and space technology.”
Underlining the importance of people-led mission movements, he said, “We may introduce any number of frameworks but real change will always be powered by teamwork on the ground. India saw this in the case of the Swachh Bharat Mission. People from all walks of life took part and ensured sanitation coverage was up from 38% in 2014 to 99% today.”
The PM also reminded the audience that “My Government has announced that India will put an end to single use plastic in the coming years. I believe the time has come for even the world to say good-bye to single use plastic.”
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