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Sacred duty to ensure healthy planet, Land degradation a 'special challenge', says PM at UN meet

WebdeskJun 15, 2021, 12:21 PM IST

Sacred duty to ensure healthy planet, Land degradation a 'special challenge', says PM at UN meet

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday gave a clarion call to the global community to "reverse" the damage caused to land by human activity and said it will be a sacred duty to leave a "healthy planet for our future generations". "Land degradation poses a special challenge to the developing world," Mr Modi said in his keynote address at the UN “High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation & Drought".


"In the spirit of South-South cooperation, India is assisting fellow developing countries to develop land restoration strategies. A Centre of Excellence is being set up in India to promote a scientific approach towards land degradation issues," he said. Thus, Mr Modi said there is an utmost "need to devise effective strategies for land restoration while promoting indigenous techniques".


The Prime Minister emphasised that "it is mankind’s collective responsibility to reverse the damage to land caused by human activity. It is our sacred duty to leave a healthy planet for our future generations. Thanking the President of the UN General Assembly, for organising this High-Level Dialogue, Mr Modi said land is the fundamental building block for supporting all lives and livelihoods and "all of us understand that the web of life functions as an interconnected system".


"In India we have always given importance to land and considered the sacred Earth as our mother," he pointed out.


However, he said, "Sadly Land degradation affects over two-thirds of the world today. If left unchecked it will erode the very foundations of our societies, economies, food security, health, safety and quality of life. Therefore we have to reduce the tremendous pressure on land and its resources. Clearly a lot of work lies ahead of us. But we can do it. We can do it together."


The Prime Minister underlined that India has taken the lead to highlight land degradation issues at international forums. "The Delhi Declaration of 2019 called for better access and stewardship over land, and emphasised gender-sensitive transformative projects."


He further said, in India, over the last 10 years, around 3 million hectares of forest cover has been added. "This has enhanced the combined forest cover to almost one fourth of the country’s total area. We are on track to achieve our national commitment of Land Degradation Neutrality. We are also working towards restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030". This would contribute to India’s commitment to achieving an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, the Prime Minister said.


"We believe that restoration of land will start a virtuous cycle of good soil health, increased land productivity, food security and improved livelihoods. In many parts of India we have taken up some novel approaches," he underlined. In this context, the Prime Minister gave the example of the Banni region in Rann of Kutch in Gujarat that "suffers from highly degraded land and receives very little rainfall".


In that region, the Prime Minister said land restoration is done by developing grasslands which help in achieving land degradation neutrality. "It also supports pastoral activities and livelihood by promoting animal husbandry," Mr Modi said.


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