Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
27-April-2018 20:00 IST
Environment Ministry, UNCCD conclude capacity building workshop on monitoring and reporting on land degradation for Asia-Pacific Region

The four-day Asia Pacific Regional Workshop of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), jointly hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and UNCCD Secretariat, to build the capacity of the Asia-Pacific Region to monitor and report on land degradation, concluded here today.

Addressing the closing session, Secretary, MoEFCC, Mr. C.K. Mishra said that the workshop will enable country Parties to participate effectively and efficiently in the UNCCD reporting process, to submit the national report in time and in particular for Target 15.3 on Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN). He added that the workshop has not only provided a diverse and multi-disciplinary knowledge sharing platform addressing desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) issues, but also provided an opportunity to bring all key stakeholders from Asia to India and discuss key aspects of Reporting, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN). The Secretary also lauded the UNCCD experts for their endeavour to take up issues, concerns and challenges of different country parties, while reporting to the UNCCD Secretariat.  

In his remarks, Deputy Executive Secretary UNCCD, Dr. Pradeep Monga, highlighted the importance of addressing land degradation, desertification and drought for developing countries including India. He commended India for its leadership role in supporting the Convention and putting land agenda at the core of SDGs.

Addressing the gathering, Director General of Forests and Special Secretary, MoEFCC, Mr Siddhanta Das, invoked the gathering to come together for such Workshops and contribute towards safeguarding the environment in every possible way. He added that the targets under the Convention can be achieved through carbon sequestration and preventing soil erosion by enriching forests.

Earlier this week, Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC) and Chair of the workshop’s inaugural session, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, had highlighted the Government’s commitment to the land agenda and also released the report on Study of Economics of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (EDLDD) conducted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and commissioned by MoEFCC. The report has highlighted that Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD) factors had cost India about 2.54% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014-15.  Pointing out that globally, drylands lose 23 hectares per minute to drought and desertification, the Minister had pointed out that this translated into a loss of 20 million tonnes of potential foodgrain production in a year. Referring to various schemes of the Government that have been launched for capacity-building of the stakeholders at multiple levels, Dr. Harsh Vardhan had mentioned some of the schemes including - Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Soil Health Card Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PKSY), Per Drop More Crop, Swacch Bharat mission, Har Khet Ko Pani (HKKP) and National Rural Drinking Water Programme.

The four-day Workshop (April 24-27, 2018) trained the participants in the use of an innovative land degradation monitoring tool by Conservation International, for the reporting process of UNCCD. This can significantly increase access to large amounts of Earth observation data and make it available in a comprehensible form for decision-makers at national and state level, thereby contributing to achieving the objectives underlined in the Convention. The training also focused on the use of new data and methods to estimate the extent and severity of land degradation, and shed light on the declining condition of India’s land resources and its impact on livelihoods. The data presented in the land degradation Tool will be used for reporting to the UNCCD and as part of the indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Participants included delegates from about 40 Asia Pacific countries, as well as representatives from 12 Indian states affected by land degradation, scientists and researchers from scientific institutions of national importance and line-Ministries.   The participants were trained in the use of the state-of-the-art tool called ‘Trends.Earth’ developed by Conservation International, an NGO. The loss of productivity in both natural and managed ecosystems has serious ramifications for food security and nutrition, water availability and employment. Knowing where hotspots or problem areas are, is the first step ahead towards combating land degradation. With this data, policy-makers can prioritize areas for interventions to improve the livelihoods in rural communities that directly depend on healthy land.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the only legally binding international agreement on land issues. The Convention promotes good land stewardship. Its 197 Parties aim, through partnerships, to implement the Convention and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The end goal is to protect land from over-use and drought, so it can continue to provide food, water and energy. By sustainably managing land and striving to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality, now and in the future, not only will the impact of climate change be reduced, but a conflict over natural resources will be avoided.   

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the nodal Ministry for this Convention, as well as the other two Rio Conventions - United Nations Framework Convention to Combat Climate Change and the Convention on Biological  Diversity, having their genesis in the Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio De Janerio, Brazil.