After 10 days, over 170 stakeholder meetings, the country parties at the end of the 14th session of Conference of Parties (COP14) to United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), adopted Delhi Declaration and identified strategies to minimize the economic and social consequences of land degradation. The framework used for reporting actions will be now improved to ensure it captures key issues, such as gender equality, drought response and the influence of consumption and production patterns and flows on land degradation.
Through the Delhi Declaration, ministers expressed their support for new initiatives or coalitions aiming to improve human health, the health of ecosystems and to advance peace and security. The two-page Delhi Declaration document states that parties will develop gender-responsive programmes at local and national levels to drive the implementation of the Convention.
At the closing press conference, Prakash Javdekar, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and COP14 President reiterated India’s commitment to achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030. “India is committed to its actions to ensure that more and more degraded land is restored. We are already working on climate change and biodiversity,” he said.
UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw focused on takeaway message: “investing in land responds to the climate crisis, brings carbon back to the soil”. When asked about goals, he said 122 countries have already set goals through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the past few years. Countries will address insecurity of land tenure, including gender inequality in tenure, promote land restoration to reduce land-related carbon emission and mobilize innovative sources of finance from public and private sources to support the implementation of these decisions at country level. “Investing in land unlocks multiple opportunities,” he added.
Thiaw also drew attention to the contribution of COP14 to the Climate Action Summit, stressing that land restoration, at scale, is one of the cheapest solutions to address the global crises of climate and biodiversity loss.
More than 8500 delegates attended the conference. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed opened the ministerial segment last Monday. At the opening address, PM Modi underlined the importance of water in combating land degradation. He said, “I call upon the leadership of UNCCD to create a global water action agenda.” And he announced that India would restore 50 lakh hectares of degraded lands by 2030.
The author is covering UNCCD COP14 under Earth Journalism Network Media Fellowship.