India will say goodbye to single-use plastic, and restore degraded land, says Narendra Modi at UNCCD COP14 conference in NCR

The UNCCD COP14 conference is being hosted by India this year from 2 September to 13 September

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a meeting at the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP14) to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) on Monday. India is hosting the UNCCD COP14 conference this year from 2 September to 13 September. The gathering aims to discuss environmental issues, especially the ones related to land management.

Speaking at the conference, Modi said between 2015 and 2017, India's tree and forest cover increased by 0.8 million hectares. "I would like to announce that India would raise its ambition of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status, from twenty one million hectares to twenty six million hectares between now and 2030," the Prime Minister said.

He said that, it is a widely accepted fact that the world is facing negative impact of climate change. Land degradation is happening as a result of sea levels rise, wave action, erratic rainfall and storms caused by hot temperatures. "When we address degraded lands, we also address water scarcity. Augmenting water supply, enhancing water recharge, slowing down water run-off and retaining moisture in the soil are all parts of a holistic land and water strategy", he added.

He also said that the time has come for the world to say 'good-bye' to single-use plastic. "My government has announced that India will put an end to the single-use plastic in the coming years. I believe the time has come for even the world to say good-bye to single-use plastic".

The conference is being held at a time when India has assumed the COP Presidency for two years. Modi said, India would be happy to propose initiatives for greater South-South cooperation in addressing issues of climate change, biodiversity and land degradation.

"India looks forward to making an effective contribution as we take over the COP Presidency for a two-year term," Modi added. Earlier in the meeting, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar also spoke about what the country has in mind in order to fight with the issue of desertification.

Around 196 countries and 94 environment ministers are taking part in the conference held at Greater Noida . Ministers are expected to announce their targets for land restoration and come to a consensus on measures to address the emerging threats of forced migration, sand and dust storms, and on actions to strengthen resilience to droughts.

UNCCD was adopted in Paris on 17 June, 1994, and was ratified by 196 countries and the European Union. India ratified the UNCCD Convention in 1996.

With inputs from agencies