India Hosts 14th UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Takes Over UNCCD Presidency From China

The 12-day 14th Conference of Parties of UN Convention to Combat Desertification started on September 2, 2019, at India Expo Centre & Mart in Greater Noida, Delhi. Noticeably, India assumes the presidency of UNCCD for the next two years, which previously was held by China.

Adopted in Paris on June 1994, the UNCCD makes global efforts to combat desertification and has completed its 25 years this year. It is essentially a legally binding agreement of nations that links environment and development to sustainable land management. India became a signatory in 1994 and made it official in 1996.

India Hosts 14th Conference of Parties to Combat Desertification, Takes Over UNCCD Presidency From China

Dignitaries at CoP14 hosted by India in Greater Noida, Delhi / Image: Press Information Bureau

Addressing the inaugural session of the conference in presence of dignitaries of UN, Indian Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said,

Be it climate change or desertification, human actions have a role in disturbing the balance of nature. Now people have realized and therefore we are saying that if human actions have caused some damage, positive human action will undo that and make a better world for future generations.

The minister also suggested that it is the need of the hour to take some serious steps and fulfill the pledges that were made to increase the Forest Land Restoration (FLR). With about 30 percent of the total land in India affected by degradation, the country has high stakes and is working hard towards achieving land degradation neutrality.

The global targets set during The Bonn Challenge which was launched in 2011 to bring the deforested and degraded land into restoration still seem a challenge. India pledged to restore 13 million hectares of land by 2020. Although according to a report, India has restored about 9.8 million hectares of deforested land since 2011, and the country still has a long way to go.

India Hosts 14th Conference of Parties to Combat Desertification, Takes Over UNCCD Presidency From China

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar addressing the conference / Image: Press Information Bureau

The Environment Minister further said that the outcomes of this conference will guide the world through the future implementations of existing and new programs in the field of agriculture, forestry, and land management.

Around 7,200 participants from 196 countries are scheduled to attend CoP14. The ministers, scientists and representatives of national and local governments, NGOs from across the globe, industry experts and many other groups will share their expertise and come up with the most viable solutions to reverse the land degradation.

They will take 30 stringent decisions with an action-oriented approach that aims to reinforce land-use policies throughout the world and address embryonic threats, such as forced migration, sand and dust storms, and droughts.

At the end of the conference, the member parties will sign the ‘New Delhi Declaration’. It will pave the way for future actions to meet the UNCCD goal of restoring about 350 million hectares of deforested land by the year 2030.

Although the host country of the conference seems optimistic and confident to achieve its target of land degradation neutrality by 2030, the increase in degraded land area is unnerving and alarming. According to a report presented by the Indian Space Research Organization in 2016, 96.40 million hectares of land, which is 29.32 percent of India’s total landmass, suffered from land degradation during 2011-13.

The increase in forest fires around the world is another crisis and needs immediate attention and actions. The recent Amazon rainforest fires contributed a worrisome amount to the deforestation and it is still increasing. The forest fires have seen a rise of almost 85 percent as compared to last year which is a matter of concern for the global community.

India Hosts 14th Conference of Parties to Combat Desertification, Takes Over UNCCD Presidency From China

The CoP14 will address the issues of deforestation and land degradation / Image: Press Information Bureau

The conference will be focusing on all the factors affecting the global green area and contributing to land degradation. All the programs and policies (existing and new) will be directed in the restoration of degraded land for a sustainable tomorrow and betterment of the lives of 3.5 billion people affected by the degradation of three-quarters of the total land of the planet.

While the whole world has its eyes set on CoP14, it would be interesting to witness the outcomes and the future approaches by the world leaders and communities in order to increase the green area and restoration of the land.

Source: Press Information Bureau 

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