Why it is Compelling To Restore Degraded Land - By Jatin Verma

Why it is Compelling To Restore Degraded Land (updated)

Updated on 14 September, 2019

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India has been hosting the meeting of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. The UNCCD meeting takes place every two years and the ongoing one in Greater Noida is the 14th such meeting. Factors affecting Land Degradation(static) Why is desertification a concern?

  • A recent report by the International Resources Panel, a scientific body hosted by the UN Environment Programme, said that about 25 percent of the world’s land area has been degraded.
  • Another report, by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, said that nearly 40 percent of the world's population was being impacted negatively because of land degradation.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) too came out with a special report on land a few months ago, in which it said that,
  • The rate of soil erosion in many areas of the world was up to 100 times faster than the rate of soil formation.
  • It also said the annual area of drylands in drought had been increasing at more than 1 per cent every year in the last 50 years, and that nearly 500 million people lived in areas that have experienced desertification after the 1980s.
About UN Convention to Combat Desertification(Static)
  • A major global agreement on issues related to land, that seeks to address the phenomenon of desertification.
  • The UNCCD is one of three Conventions that have come out of the historic 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
  • The UNCCD has not yet resulted in any international treaty or protocol to fight desertification.
  • The UNFCCC holds its general meetings every year, while CBD and CCD meet every two years
Need for such a convention?
  • At the time the UNCCD was born in Rio, degradation of land was mostly viewed as a localized problem, one that was mainly affecting countries in Africa.
  • Over the years, it has become increasingly clear that land degradation was impacting the global network of food and commodity supply chains.
  • The crops being grown and the quantities in which they were being grown were dictated not by local needs but by global demands.
  • Changes in food habits and international trade have altered cropping patterns in many areas.
  • Large-scale migration to urban centers and industrial hubs has seen a heavy concentration of populations in small areas, putting unsustainable pressure on land and water resources.
  • Therefore, the convention has become more relevant now.
Land Degradation and Climate change(static)
  • Forests, trees and vegetation cover are important sinks of carbon dioxide. Land degradation, therefore, reduces the amount of carbon dioxide that is absorbed and consequently leads to a rise in emissions
  • Similarly, agriculture and allied activities such as cattle rearing contribute to emissions and are a major source of methane which is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
  • Restoration of degraded land can, therefore, have major co-benefits for climate change objectives
Outcomes of COP 14
  • Country parties have agreed to make the Sustainable Development Goal target of achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030 a national target for action.
  • Also India reiterated its commitment to achieve land degradation neutrality by2030.
  • Countries will address insecurity of land tenure, including gender inequality in land tenure, promote land restoration to reduce land-related carbon emissions and mobilize innovative sources of finance from public and private sources to support the implementation of these decisions at country-level.
  • Through the Delhi Declaration, ministers expressed support for new initiatives or coalitions aiming to improve human health and well-being, the health of ecosystems, and to advance peace and security
Land Degradation Neutrality 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. Defined by the Parties to the Convention    
Major points that has been discussed during the convention has been overlooked as per Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)  
  • The finalised Declaration – ‘Investing in Land and Unlocking Opportunities’ agreed to by the Member Parties has removed the mention of international financial institutions like Green Climate Fund (GCF), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Adaptation Fund. These institutions had been specifically named in the draft which was being discussed among the Parties.
  • The Declaration has also removed the mention of “legal recognition” of tenurial rights. The issue of these rights was one of the most contentious ones being discussed at the Convention.
  • The Declaration also dilutes the importance of land tenure and user rights of indigenous communities, youth and women.  However, it was announced that the Indian government was committed to giving land titles to all eligible forest dwellers. 
  • Declaration does not mention any specific measures that can be used for adaptation.
  Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/simply-put-how-world-is-losing-fertile-land-5990417/ Also read: Land Desertification and Degradation Land Reforms – Objectives and Components Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/simply-put-how-world-is-losing-fertile-land-5990417/

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