NEW DELHI: Emphasising the importance of land as a resource and the need to protect and harness its resources in a manner that does not adversely affect its health, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan has underlined the critical need to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030. Inaugurating the four-day Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Dr. Harsh Vardhan urged the delegates to transform the Workshop into a milestone in combating land degradation, desertification and drought.
In the global context, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that nearly 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil and 27, 000 bio-species are lost every year. He stated that nearly 30 per cent of the world’s population lives in dry areas. “8 out of 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites are in dry lands”, he added. Lauding some of the success stories of other nations, the Minister mentioned Sahel Integrated Lowland ecosystem Management (SILeM) in Burkina Faso, besides the Capacity and Management Support for combating land degradation in dry land ecosystems in China. In the Indian context, he highlighted the Sustainable land, water and biodiversity conservation and management for improved livelihoods in Uttarakhand watershed sector, as well as Sustainable Rural Livelihoods Security through Innovations in Land and ecosystem management in India. Dr. Harsh Vardhan added that India has documented its Sustainable Land and Ecosystem Management practices in the form of SLEM book, published in 2014.
The Minister referred to various schemes of the Government of India that have been launched for capacity-building of the stakeholders at multiple levels. Among others, he referred to some of the schemes which include – Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Soil Health Card Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PKSY), Per Drop More Crop, Swacch Bharat mission, Har Khet Ko Pani (HKKP) and National Rural Drinking Water Programme.
Addressing the gathering, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNCCD, Dr. P.K Monga said that the main objective of such Workshops is to enable country Parties to participate effectively in the UNCCD reporting process and to submit the national report in time.
In his address, UN Resident Coordinator, Yuri Afanasiev stressed that land degradation is the single most crucial issue facing the world. “The good news, certainly for India, is that this problem is combatable and secondly, land degradation, together with issues like energy efficiency are the lowest cost, no-regret measures for the countries to adopt”, Afanasiev averred.