190 nations pledge to reduce land degradation

Parched land. (File Photo: IANS)
Representational image. Photo: IANS

Greater Noida: The world needs to consider land-based solutions for climate action and biodiversity to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, said the Delhi Declaration adopted by over 190 countries on Friday.

The declaration, a two-page document, was announced by the participating countries at the 14th Conference of Parties (COP 14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) with an action plan to save the planet from losing more land.

The parties to the declaration also invited development partners, international financial mechanisms, private sector and other stakeholders to boost investments and technical support for the implementation of the convention.

"Promote opportunities that support, as appropriate and applicable, the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement and the development of an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework, taking into consideration land-based solutions for climate action and biodiversity conservation and the mutually supportive implementation of the three Rio conventions," the document said.

The three conventions were formed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

UNCCD executive secretary, Ibrahim Thiaw said the Delhi Declaration is a "powerful" document which lists the important takeaways from the convention.

"My first takeaway is that there is a clear link between land, climate and biodiversity. Carbon belongs to the soil and should not have been emitted. Secondly, we need investments on land restoration," he said.

"Thirdly, the issue of drought was taken up seriously at the convention and lastly, that land restoration will not happen without putting people first," he added.

Emphasising on the need to synergise the three UN conventions, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Delhi Declaration is an ambitious statement on global action by each country on how to achieve its land degradation neutrality (LDN) target by 2030.

So far, 122 countries have set their LDN targets.

India has pledged to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 -- an increase of 5 million hectares over the existing pledge to restore 21 million hectares.

LDN is a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.

The Declaration states that the local governments must adopt integrated land use management and enhanced land governance to rehabilitate the natural resource base that makes cities sustainable.

It suggests reducing rates of land consumption and soil sealing along with biodiversity and ecosystem loss.

The parties to the convention also adopted a proactive approach to reduce the risks and impacts of desertification, land degradation and drought through the implementation of drought preparedness plans and increased risk mitigation for drought and sand and dust storms.

The two-week-long COP 14, which commenced on September 2, concluded on Friday. Over 190 countries and more than 8,000 representatives, delegates, NGOs and others participated in the convention.

During the last COP in 2017 in China, countries had agreed on a 12-year strategy to contain runaway land degradation that is threatening the global food and water supply.

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