India asks rich nations to shun use and throw mindset to protect land as degradation threatens roughly half of global GDP | India News

NEW DELHI: India has made significant progress in its commitment to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, and strengthened its existing programmes to meet the country’s ‘land degradation neutrality’ targets, said environment minister Bhupender Yadav on Tuesday. He also asked rich nations to move away from consumerism driven lifestyles to protect people and planet as land degradation threatens roughly half of global GDP (US$ 44 trillion).
“It is imperative that we collectively move away from a consumption-oriented approach. The mindset of use and throw is deleterious for the planet,” said Yadav. He was delivering the country’s statement at the ongoing 15th session of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) conference (COP15) at Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Speaking on the effect of global warming on land, Yadav said that protecting both people and the planet will not be possible without the developed countries taking the lead in drastic emissions reduction, as their responsibility for global warming is the highest both historically and in the present.
The COP15 is being held in the backdrop of the latest findings of the UN body that reported in April that up to 40% of all ice-free land is already degraded globally, with dire consequences for climate, biodiversity and livelihoods. It also noted that the current scale of degradation threatens roughly half of global GDP (US$44 trillion).
The last such global conference (COP14) was held in India in September, 2019 when the country had raised its target of restoring degraded land from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares by 2030 in its efforts to reach ‘land degradation neutrality’ (LDN) through multiple actions including afforestation, developing grassland, agroforestry, conservation agriculture practices such as natural farming and assisted natural regeneration.
Speaking on India’s presidency of the COP since 2019, Yadav said that major initiatives have been launched in the country to meet LDN targets, and cited examples of its ongoing ‘Soil Health Cards’ (SHC) programmes to monitor health of soils which helped in 8-10% decline in use of chemical fertilizers between 2015-19.
At present, India’s land to an extent of roughly 29.3% (96.4 million hectares) of the country’s total geographical areas (328.7 million hectares) is degraded. The LDN is a stage where the amount and quality of land resources remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems, factoring in degradation and restoration. Simply put, any country will not have net loss in terms of land degradation if it achieves LDN through restoration efforts.
Before being concluded on May 20, the COP15 will bring together leaders from governments, private sector, civil society and other key stakeholders from around the world to drive progress in the future sustainable management of land, and will explore links between land and other key sustainability issues.
Global land outlook
*Up to 40% of the planet’s land is degraded
*50% of humanity affected by land degradation
*Degradation threatens roughly half of global GDP ( US$44 trillion)
*Additional degradation of an area almost the size of South America will happen if business as usual continued through 2050
*Nations’ current pledge to restore 1 billion degraded hectares by 2030 requires $US 1.6 trillion this decade
*Over 40% of global land area occupied by agriculture
*52% of total agricultural land is degraded
*Agriculture is responsible for 80% of global deforestation
*Over 70% tropical forest cleared for agriculture between 2013 and 2019 in violation of national laws or regulations
*An additional 69 gigatonnes of carbon ( 17% of current annual GHG emissions) is emitted from 2015 to 2050 due to land use change and soil degradation
(Source: 2nd edition of the UNCCD’s Global Land Outlook report)

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