Families and communities are breaking up, losing their homes and sources of livelihoods, often from single instances of droughts, flash-floods and forest fires. These negative impacts of unpredictable and extreme climatic conditions are now recurrent, more frequent and intense in many parts of the world.
Today, over a million species are on the verge of extinction, threatening global food security, largely due to habitat loss and land degradation. Three out of every 4 hectares of land have been altered from their natural states and the productivity of about 1 in every 4 hectares of land is declining.
Poor land health is on the rise, and is impacting 3.2 billion people all over the world. Land degradation working in tandem with climate change and biodiversity loss may force up to 700 million people to migrate by 2050.
World unites to fight for ‘Land’
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was entered into force in December 1996. It is one of the three Rio Conventions along with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). India became a signatory to UNCCD on 14th October 1994 and ratified it on 17th December 1996
The main objective of the convention is to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, involving long-term integrated strategies that focus simultaneously, in affected areas, on improved productivity of land, and the rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable management of land and water resources, leading to improved living conditions, in particular at the community level.
The UN Convention meet will be held in New Delhi from 2nd to 13th September, which will see participation of over 3000 representatives from across the world. The conference will focus on issues of desertification and degradation of land.
India to convert 50 lakh hectares of degraded land
Delivering the keynote address at a Curtain Raiser Press Conference in New Delhi, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, highlighted India’s resolve to combat desertification. “Desertification is a worldwide problem directly affecting 250 million people and a third of the earth’s land surface. To fight this menace, India will convert degraded land of nearly 50 lakh hectares to fertile land in next 10 years; it will implement provisions of New Delhi Declaration which is to be adopted at the end of conference and a Centre for Excellence will be established at Dehradun”, said Shri Javadekar.
The Convention’s 197 parties work together to improve the living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought. The UNCCD is particularly committed to a bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation.
“It is our collective responsibility to do our duty towards protecting the environment and ensuring that there is no harmful impact on it”, said Shri Javadekar. Elaborating further on India’s key role as the President of UNCCD COP for the next 2 years, Shri Javadekar said “It is the common resolve of the World to combat desertification and India will lead from the front and move the world in a positive direction, taking into cognizance the support of other countries”.
“It is the common resolve of the World to combat desertification and India will lead from the front”
watch Video to know more about conference in 2 minutes
SDG the agenda of the CoP 14
The CoP is especially focused on the over 1.3 billion people who rely directly on the land to survive, and suffer the most from the biophysical impacts of land degradation and drought. They can enjoy a better, healthier future if they are able to protect, manage and restore their own land. Communities that rely solely on the land should be supported to become resilient in the face of environmental, social and climatic pressures.
Sustainable Development Goals is the core agenda of the fourteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14).
Desertification, land degradation and drought are huge challenges. But investing in the land and its stewards can open up vast opportunities for the economy and environmental resilience. COP14 is aiming to help countries achieve Land Degradation Neutrality by delivering tools and resources that are fit for purpose.
Tools that are built on accurate and reliable science and data, participatory processes and compromise, and benefit everyone. Countries can withstand future environmental challenges better by optimizing land management and massively scaling up sustainable practices and the restoration of degraded land.