India committed towards target of restoring 26 mn ha degraded land by 2030 despite Covid, economic challenges: Environment Minister

Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav on Tuesday said that the Covid-19 pandemic has “compounded the challenge of fighting global warming” as economic pressures have delayed progress of climate action around the world.

Addressing the United Nation’s Conference to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Conference of Parties at its 15th session in Cote d’Ivoire, Yadav, who is also the COP president, said that India has made significant progress in its commitment to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, adding that major initiatives have been launched and existing programmes strengthened in meeting our Land Degradation Neutrality targets.

“Over 229 million Soil Health Cards have been issued to farmers between 2015 and 2019 and this program has led to a decline of 8-10% in the use of chemical fertilizers and also raised productivity by 5 to 6%.”, said Yadav.

He added that following the global call for the submission of nominations for World Restoration Flagships, the Government of India endorsed six restoration flagships that target the restoration of 12.5 million hectares of degraded lands.

“I would like to point out that India’s rural livelihood programmes have an underlying ethos of natural resource conservation and restoration. In recovering from the pandemic, we have used our livelihood programmes extensively to work towards land restoration. Building forward better and greener communities, especially for vulnerable groups, will have to be at the heart of the restoration
agenda”, stated the current COP president.

Emphasizing that landscape restoration is more than planting trees, Yadav said that it becomes essential that we recognize the power of local and indigenous knowledge with the close assistance of science
and technology and must integrate community needs, priorities and expertise in all parts of the process.

At the COP 15 of UNCCD, being held from May 9 to May 20, 197 parties will discuss drought, land restoration, and related enablers such as land rights, gender equality and youth empowerment.

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