#ModiatUN: India to restore 2.6cr hectare degraded land by 2030
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday said that India is looking to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. Modi was delivering the keynote address at a United Nations high-level dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation, and Drought. If land degradation continues unchecked, it will "erode the very foundations of our societies, economies, food security, health, safety, and quality of life," he said.
Modi addressed the opening segment as the President of the 14th Session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Modi said that land is the fundamental building block of all lives and livelihoods. He called to reduce the "tremendous pressure" on land and its resources. He acknowledged that "a lot of work lies ahead of us."
Modi said India has taken the lead to highlight land degradation issues at international forums. The Prime Minister's office (PMO) quoted him as saying, "The Delhi Declaration of 2019 called for better access and stewardship over land, and emphasized gender-sensitive transformative projects. In India, over the last 10 years, around 3 million hectares of forest cover has been added."
Over the past decade, around 3 million hectares of forest cover has been added, he said, adding, "This has enhanced the combined forest cover to almost one-fourth of the country's total area." He said India is on track to meet its land degradation neutrality commitment.
Modi said, "We are also working toward restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. This would contribute to India's commitment to achieve an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent." He added, "We believe that restoration of land can start a virtuous cycle of good soil health, increased land productivity, food security, and improved livelihoods."
Modi cited the example of the Banni region in Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, his home state, where land restoration was done by developing grasslands. This helps achieve land degradation neutrality, along with supporting pastoral activities and livelihood by promoting animal husbandry.
Modi urged fellow developing countries to develop land restoration strategies. He said a Center of Excellence is being set up in India with the aim to promote a scientific approach towards land degradation issues. "It is mankind's collective responsibility to reverse the damage to land caused by human activity. It's our sacred duty to leave a healthy planet for our future generations," he said.