India will raise its target for restoring degraded land from 21 million hectare to 26 million hectare by 2030, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Monday.
Inaugurating the high-level segment of the 14th session of Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Modi said between 2015 and 2017, India’s tree and forest cover increased by 0.8 million hectares. “I would like to announce that India will raise its ambition of the total area that will be restored from its land degradation status — from 21 million hectare to 26 million hectare between now and 2030,” Modi said.
Addressing delegates from around 200 nations, 70 environment ministers and over 8,000 participants from across the world, Modi urged the global community to stop using single-use plastic which was a “menace for land and environment”.
Saying that the plastic menace was a form of land degradation which would be impossible to reverse, Modi said that apart from adverse health implications, it is going to render land unproductive and unfit for agriculture.
“My government has announced that India will put an end to single-use plastic in the coming years. I believe time has come for even the world to say goodbye to single-use plastic,” Modi said.
“We in India take pride in using space technology in multiple actions including land degradation and we will be happy to help other countries to combat it through cost effective space technology,” he said.
It was also announced that India will set up a global technical support institute for the member countries of the UNCCD for their capacity building and support regarding land degradation neutrality, which has been defined by the parties to UNCCD as a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.
The opening session of the segment was also addressed by Environment minister Prakash Javadekar, UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J Mohammad, UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw and Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Javadekar, who is the new COP president, said India was fully committed towards achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). “We have already achieved half the target of installing 175 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2022,” he said.