India is on track to achieve its national commitment of Land degradation neutrality, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi while delivering the keynote address at the UN “High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought” on June 14, 2021 through video conference.
The Prime Minister spoke at the Opening Segment of the dialogue as the President of the 14th Session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
PM Modi termed land as the fundamental building block for supporting all lives and livelihoods and called for a reduction of tremendous pressure on land and its resources. He stated that a lot of work lies ahead of us but it can be done together.
The Prime Minister further said that India has taken the lead to highlight land degradation issues at international forums. He also listed steps taken by India to deal with the land degradation issue:
• India has added around 3 million hectares of forest cover in the last 10 years. This has enhanced the combined forest cover to almost one-fourth of the country’s total area.
• The Delhi Declaration of 2019 had called for better access and stewardship over land. It also emphasised gender-sensitive transformative projects.
• PM Modi also stated that India is on track to achieve its national commitment of Land degradation neutrality.
• India also aims to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 to achieve an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
• India will also be setting up a Centre of Excellence to promote a scientific approach towards land degradation issues.
Land Restoration in India
PM Modi gave the example of the Banni region in Rann of Kutch, Gujarat to highlight how land restoration can start a virtuous cycle of good soil health, increased land productivity, food security and improved livelihoods.
He shared that in the Banni region, land restoration was done by developing grasslands, which helped in achieving land degradation neutrality. Land restoration also boosts pastoral activities and livelihood by promoting animal husbandry.
India has been assisting fellow developing countries under South-South cooperation to develop land restoration strategies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that it is mankind’s collective responsibility to reverse the damage to land caused by human activity. He said, “it is our sacred duty to leave a healthy planet for our future generations.”