“I welcome you all to India for the fourteenth session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.Going forward, India would be happy to propose initiatives for greater South-South cooperation in addressing issues of climate change, biodiversity and land degradation.When we address degraded lands, we also address water scarcity. Augmenting water supply, enhancing water recharge, slowing down water run-off and retaining moisture in the soil are all parts of a holistic land and water strategy.I call upon the leadership of UNCCD to conceive a global water action agenda which is central to the Land Degradation Neutrality strategy.Today, I am reminded of India’s NDCs that were submitted at the Paris CoP of the UNFCCC. It highlighted India’s deep cultural roots of maintaining a healthy balance between land, water, air, trees and all living beings. It would make you happy that India has been able to increase its tree cover. Between 2015 to 2017, India’s tree and forest cover has increased by point eight million hectares.I am happy to share that only last week, funds amounting to nearly six billion US dollars have been released to the provincial governments in lieu of such diversion for development of forest lands. My Government has launched a program to double the income of farmers by increasing crop yield through various measures. This includes land restoration and micro-irrigation.
We are working with a motto of per drop more crop. At the same time,we are also focusing on Zero budget natural farming. Water management is another important issue to address LDN. We have created “Jal Shakti Ministry” to address all water related important issues in totality. My Government has announced that India will put an end to single use plastic in the coming years. I believe the time has come for even the world to say good-bye to single use plastic. We may introduce any number of frame works but real change will always be powered by teamwork on the ground. India saw this in the case of the Swachh Bharat Mission. People from all walks of life took part and ensured sanitation coverage was up from 38% in 2014 to 99% today. I would like to announce that India would raise its ambition of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status, from twenty one million hectares to twenty six million hectares between now and 2030. We in India,take pride in using remote sensing and space technology for multiple applications, including land restoration.
I am happy to state that India would be happy to help other friendly countries develop land restoration strategies through cost effective satellite and space technology. I understand that 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.I wish you well as you deliberate further towards proposing a global strategy for Land Degradation Neutrality. I would end by reciting a prayer from scriptures: Ōm dyauḥ śāntiḥ, antarikṣaṁ śāntih.. The word Shanti does not only refer to peace or the anti-dote to violence. Here, it refers to prospering.Everything has a law of being, a purpose and everybody has to fulfill a purpose.
Excerpts of PM Narendra Modi speech at the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
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