Land restoration can create jobs, uplift rural communities, says Indian environment minister at UNCCD

New DelhiUpdated: May 11, 2022, 11:49 PM IST
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India said that during 2019-2021, G-20 leaders have recognised the importance of combating land degradation and creating new carbon sinks with an aspirational goal to collectively plant 1 trillion trees

In the national statement at the ongoing 15th Conference of Parties (COP 15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Indian environment minister Bhupender Yadav on Wednesday said that land restoration is one of the proven strategies for the path to green recovery.

"Land restoration can create jobs, uplift rural communities, and deliver significant co-benefits for human health, biodiversity, and adaptation to climate change."

“We will need to appropriately align our policies and institutions such that they contribute towards the restoration of landscapes and its productivity," the minister said at the COP 15 being held in Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa.

He asserted that it was critical to ensure the flow of public finance into natural resource management to halt the deteriorating state of the environment.

"Our programs and initiatives will not see fruition without the means of implementation necessary to support them," he said.

After presiding over the COP for two years, India has now handed it over to the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire.

The Indian minister stressed on the need to urgently reduce the profligate emissions driven by high consumption lifestyle of a global minority among countries, adding that it will be the key to the success of the three Rio conventions on climate change, biodiversity and desertification.

India stated that several global developments indicate renewed and stronger resolve that provide direct and indirect support to the objectives of UNCCD, such as the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) that aims at halting and reversing ecosystem degradation and loss.

"It is timely that at this COP, we call for action to ensure that land is sustainably managed and continues to benefit present and future generation," India said.

Emphasising that land plays a fundamental and cross-cutting role in achieving several of the Sustainable Development Goals, India's environment minister said that meeting SDG goals can help accelerate tree cover, soil conservation and transition towards sustainable agriculture production.

The minister said that during India's presidency, seven high-level meetings were convened successfully and they witnessed vibrant discussions, leading to decisions on-Leveraging multilateral platforms on the road to Rio+ 30; scheduling of the COP 15 at Cote d’Ivoire; and deliberations in the Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on Drought.

India said that during this period (2019-2021), G-20 leaders have recognised the importance of combating land degradation and creating new carbon sinks with an aspirational goal to collectively plant 1 trillion trees, urging other countries to join forces with G20 to reach this global goal by 2030.  

A high-level dialogue of United Nations General Assembly was held on 14th June 2021 on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought, where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the success stories and initiatives taken by India to combat land degradation, the environment minister said.

The minister expressed that for the first time, an Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on effective policy and implementation measures for addressing drought under UNCCD was established and a draft report has been prepared which will be discussed during COP-15.

Yadav concluded by remarking that India held the 14th COP in Delhi in 2019 as a part of its commitment to the global community and its commitment to the fundamental objectives of this Convention.

Subsequently, it also held the presidency during the difficult Covid 19 pandemic times, he said.

"The world has now chosen Abidjan as the site to begin the next step of our journey, to carry forward this important task. We pass on this responsibility to our hosts, the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, knowing that you will undertake the task at hand with deft and zeal. We repose our faith in you to guide the global community to tread on the path of sustainability with care and respect for Mother Earth," Bhupender Yadav said.