Modi urges more South-South cooperation, global action on water

Greater Noida, Sep 9 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday batted for greater South-South cooperation to address the issues of climate change, desertification and land degradation.
Addressing the fourteenth edition here of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Modi also pitched for the conception of a global water action agenda, which, he said, is at the heart of achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).
“Going forward, India would be happy to propose initiatives for a greater south-south cooperation to address the issues of climate change, biodiversity and land degradation,” Modi said.
He stressed that the issue of land degradation is affecting two-thirds of the countries, globally. While addressing the issue of land degradation, the issue of water consumption and scarcity should also be addressed, he added.
“Enhancing water recharge, retaining moisture of the soil are part of the holistic land and water management. I call upon the leadership of UNCCD to conceive a global water action agenda which is central to the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) strategy,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister also set an ambitious target for the country to restore the degraded land from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares by 2030.
The UNCCD was adopted in Paris on June 17, 1994, and was ratified by 196 countries and the European Union. India ratified the UNCCD Convention in December 17, 1996.
Modi said that a centre of excellence would be developed at the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education which will promote South-South cooperation by sharing knowledge, resource and technology and training manpower to prevent land degradation.
India has been able to increase its forest cover, the Prime Minister said.
“Between 2015 and 2017, the country has increased its tree cover by 0.8 million hectares,” he said, elaborating on the various initiatives taken by the country to combat the effects of climate change and land degradation.
It is widely accepted that the world is facing the negative impacts of climate change.
“Climate change is also leading to land degradation of various kinds, be it due to rise in sea levels and wave action, erratic rainfall and storms, and sand storms caused by hot temperatures,” Modi said.
India is focusing on zero-budget natural farming, he said.
“We have also introduced a scheme to determine the soil quality of the farms. We have introduced health cards to farmers which enable them to grow right type of crops, fertilizers and the use the right quantity of water. We are increasing the use of bio-fertilizers and decreasing the use of pesticides,” he added.
He drew attention to the issue of single-use plastic, which he stressed will be impossible to reverse if not prevented.
“This is the menace of plastic waste. Apart from having adverse health implications, this is going to render lands unproductive and unfit for agriculture. My government has announced that India will put an end to single-use plastic in the coming years,” he said.
“The real change will be put forward by teamwork,” he added, calling for the same spirit to put an end to single-use plastic, which was been seen in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
According to the Prime Minister, an ambitious New Delhi Declaration is being considered.
“We are all aware that the Sustainable Development Goals have to be achieved by 2030 of which attainment of LDN is also a part,” he said.

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