17 June is celebrated as the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCDC). This day was announced during the United Nations General Assembly in 1994 to promote public awareness on the issue. Another aim of declaring a specific date as WDCDD was to ensure the implementation of the UNCCD in desertification affected countries. The theme of the WDCDC this year is Let’s Grow the Future Together.
The day this year has come amidst an ongoing intense heat wave across India. In a function held in New Delhi today, the Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar highlighted that around 30% of India’s total geographical area is affected with land degradation. India therefore has high stakes in the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and to mark this day as a reminder of this fact.
The Environment Minister also stated how India does not make targets under any international pressure but makes them only for ensuring sustainable development of India. He proudly declared that India will play a leadership role in case of controlling drought and will lead by example in combating desertification.
This was a pre-cursor to to the COP-14, the fourteenth session of Conference of Parties (COP-14) to the UNCCD. COP-14 to the UNCCD will take place from 29 August to 14 September 2019 in India. The logo of COP-14 was also unveiled during the event.
The Government of India has already launched various schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), Soil Health Card Scheme, Soil Health Management Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojna (PKSY), Per Drop More Crop, etc. for preventing land degradation.
CEO , NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant was also present on the occasion and urged the global community to realize that desertification can be effectively tackled, solutions are possible and that key tool for this is community participation and cooperation at all levels. MoEFCC Secretary C.K. Mishra added to this and stated that the day should be used to retrospect and celebrate the past years of progress made by India on sustainable land management.
The Bonn Challenge
On this day, the Environment Minister also launched a flagship project on enhancing capacity on Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) and Bonn Challenge in India through a pilot phase of 3.5 years implemented in the states of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Karnataka.
The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. At the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (CoP) 2015 in Paris, India joined the voluntary Bonn Challenge pledge to bring into restoration 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by the year 2020, and additional 8 million hectares by 2030. India’s pledge is one of the largest in Asia.
Through this project the MoEFCC, in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature & Natural Resources (IUCN) aims to develop and adapt best practices and monitoring protocols for the states in India and build capacity within the five pilot states on FLR and Bonn Challenge. This will be eventually scaled up across the country through subsequent phases of the project.
UNCCD CoP 14
The United Nations has 3 Rio Conventions namely, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the only legally binding international agreement linking environment and development issues to the land agenda.
India will be hosting the Fourteenth Session of Conference of Parties (CoP-14) later this year at India Expo Mart Limited, Greater NOIDA. One of the primary functions of the CoP is to review reports submitted by the Country Parties detailing how they are carrying out their commitments. India will take-over the CoP presidency from China for two years until the next CoP is hosted in 2021.
CoP 14 will be a two week long event where over 5,000 representatives from over 197 countries and all forms media will address the issue of combating desertification, land degradation and drought.
Top image caption: Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 2019 on the theme Let’s grow the future together in New Delhi on June 17, 2019.