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I am very pleased to have the privilege to participate in the India-ASEAN Summit.

I am particularly honoured that I got this opportunity in Myanmar. Myanmar is our great neighbor, with which we have had historically very close relations. Further, India`s Eastern journey begins on the Western boundary of Myanmar.

Excellency, I am grateful to you for your warm welcome and hospitality; congratulate you on the excellent arrangements; and wish you great success in hosting the ASEAN and East Asia Summits.

My government has been in office for six months and the intensity and momentum with which we have enhanced our engagement in the East, is a reflection of the priority that we give to this region.

We have close bilateral relations with each of you and we treat the relations with ASEAN with the same importance.

Today ASEAN has established its own identity and voice in global political and economic affairs.

Today, the entire Asia-Pacific region desires integration and cooperation

To achieve this extremely important goal we look at ASEAN, not only for inspiration but also for its leadership; and you have achieved a great deal of success in leading us in that direction.

The ASEAN community is India`s neighbour. We have ancient relations of trade, religion, culture, art and traditions. We have enriched each other through our interaction.

This constitutes a strong foundation of a modern relationship.

That is why our world view is similar in many respects; our mutual confidence and trust is strong. We have no irritants in our relationship. We see encouraging opportunities and challenges in the world in similar ways.

ASEAN and India have the vigour and enthusiasm of its youth and wisdom and understanding of its ancient civilisations.

Rapidly developing India and ASEAN can be great partners for each other. We are both keen to enhance our cooperation in advancing balance, peace and stability in the region.

We have been successful to a considerable extent in pursuing our dreams. We have laid a foundation for a strong and comprehensive strategic partnership.

But, our potential is much higher than where we are at the moment.

A new era of economic development, industrialization and trade has begun in India. Externally, India`s `Look East Policy` has become `Act East Policy`.

We greatly respect the enthusiasm with which you have extended the hand of friendship to India. Today the world and the region need a strong India-ASEAN partnership;

That is why we believe that we are entering in a new era in the India-ASEAN partnership.

I look forward keenly to hear your views.

But before I end, I want to thank His Majesty Sultan Hassan-al Bolkiah of Brunei for injecting so much energy in India-ASEAN relationship as country-coordinator. I am also confident that Vietnam, as the next country-coordinator, will take our relationship to an even higher plane.

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It is our sacred duty to leave a healthy planet for our future generations: PM Modi
June 14, 2021
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In last 10 years, around 3 million hectares of forest cover added in India, enhancing the combined forest cover to almost one-fourth of the country's total area: PM
India is on track to achieve its national commitment of Land degradation neutrality: PM
Restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded land aimed by 2030 to achieve an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent
Centre of Excellence is being set up in India to promote a scientific approach towards land degradation issues
It is our sacred duty to leave a healthy planet for our future generations: PM

Excellency, President of the General Assembly,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Namaste

I thank the President of the General Assembly for organising this High-Level Dialogue.

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 inter-connected system. 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.

Mr. President,

In India, we have always given importance to land and considered the sacred Earth as our mother. 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. 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 achieve an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

We believe that restoration of land can 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. To give just one example, the Banni region in Rann of Kutch in Gujarat suffers from highly degraded land and receives very little rainfall. In that region, land restoration is done by developing grasslands, which helps in achieving land degradation neutrality.  It also supports pastoral activities and livelihood by promoting animal husbandry. In the same spirit, we need to devise effective strategies for land restoration while promoting indigenous techniques.

Mr. President,

Land degradation poses a special challenge to the developing world. 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.

Mr. President,

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. For their sake and ours, I extend my best wishes for productive deliberations at this High-Level Dialogue.

Thank you.

Thank you very much.