I welcome you all to India for the 14th session of the COP to the UN convention to combat desertification. for the UN Combat Desertification. I thank the executive secretary Mr Ibrahim Jio for having brought this convention to India. The record registration for this convention reflects the global Commitment to the task of reversing land degradation.
India also looks forward to making an effective contribution as we take over the co presidency for a two year term.
Friends For ages we in India have always given importance to land. In Indian culture the Earth is held as sacred. And treated as a mother.
While getting up in morning when we touch the earth with our feet we seek forgiveness of mother earth by praying
Samudra-Vasane Devi Parvata-Stana-Mandale |
Vissnnu-Patni Namas-Tubhyam Paada-Sparsham Kshamasva-Me.
Friends Climate and environment impact both biodiversity and land. It is widely accepted that the world is facing the negative impact of climate change. This is seen in loss of land and plants and animal species, facing threat of becoming extinct. Climate change is also leading to land degradation of various kinds, be it due to rise in sea levels and wave action, erratic rainfall storms &sand storms caused by hot temperatures.
Ladies and Gentlemen, India has hosted global gathering through the COP for all the three conventions. This reflects our commitment to addressing all the three main concerns of the Rio Convention.
Going forward India would be happy proposing initiatives for greater South - South Cooperation on addressing the issue of climate change, bio diversity and land degradation.
Friends you will be shocked to know that desertification affects over 23rds of countries of the world. This makes a compelling case for action on land front combine this with the water crisis facing the world. Because when we address degraded lands we also address water scarcity issue.
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. I call upon the leadership of UNCCD to create a Global Water Action Agenda which is central to the land degradation neutrality strategy.
Friends, restoring the health of land is critical for sustainable development. Today I was reminded of the India’s Indices that were submitted at the Paris COP at the UNFCCC
It highlighted india’s deep cultural roots of maintaining a healthy balance between land, water, air trees and all living beings. Friends it would make you happy that India had been able to increase its tree cover. Between 2015 to 2017 India’s tree and forest cover had been increased by 0.8 Mn Hectares.
In India any diversion of forest land for development purposes has to be compensated by making an equivalent land mass available for afforestation. It is also required that a monetary payment of the value of timber which such forest land would have yielded.
Am happy to share that only last week funds amounting to nearly 6 Billion USD, means 40 to 50,000 crore Rupees have been released to the provincial governments in lieu of such diversion for development of forest lands.
My government has launched a program to double the income of the farmers by increasing crop yield through various measures. This includes land restoration and micro irrigation. We are working with the motto of per drop more crop. At the same time we are also focusing on zero budget natural farming. We have also introduced a scheme to determine the soil quality of each of the farms and are issuing soil health cards to the farmers. This enables them to grow right type of crops, fertilisers, and use the right quantity of water. So far about 217 Million Soil Health Cards have been distributed. We are increasing the use of bio fertilisers and reducing the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers.
Water management is another important issue we have created Jal Shakti Ministry to address all water related important issues in totality. Recognizing the value of water in all forms we enforced Zero liquid discharge in many industrial processes. The regulatory regime, Provides for treatment of waste water to a degree that it can be put back into the river system without harming life in water. Friends I would like to draw your attention to another form of land degradation which if not prevented could be impossible to reverse. This is the menace of plastic waste. Apart from having adverse health implications, this is going to render lands unproductive and unfit for agriculture.
My government has announced that India would put an end to single waste plastic in the coming years. We are committed to the development of environment friendly substitutes and also an efficient plastic collection and disposal method.
I believe the time has come for even the world to say good bye to single use Plastic.
Friends human empowerment is closely linked to the state of environment be it harnessing water resources or reducing the usage of single use plastic, the way ahead is behavioural change. It is only when all sections of society decide to achieve something we can see the desired results.
We may introduce any number of frameworks but the real change will be powered by teamwork on the ground. India saw this in the case of the Swachcha Bharat Mission, people from all walks of life took part and ensured sanitation coverage, which is up from 38 percent in 2014 to 99 percent today.
I am seeing the same spirit when it comes to ensuring the end of single use plastic, youngsters in particular are more supportive and are taking the lead to bring positive change. The media is also playing a very valuable role.
Friends I would like to make further commitment to the global land agenda, I also offer India’s support to those countries who may like to understand and adopt some of the LDN (Land Degradation Neutrality) Strategies that have succeeded in India. From this forum 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 21 Million Hectares to 26 Million Hectares between now and 2030.
This will support India’s large commitment to achieve an additional Carbon Sin between 2.5 Bn MT to 3 Bn MT through tree cover.
We in India take pride in using remote sensing and space technology for multiple applications including land restoration. India would be happy to help other friendly countries develop land restoration strategies, through cost effective satellite and space technology.
In order to further develop a scientific approach and facilitate induction of technology to land degradation issues, we have decided to set up a centre for excellence in India at the Indian Council for Forest Research and Education. This will actively engage, to promote South-South cooperation with those who wish to access knowledge, technology and training of manpower to address land degradation related issues.
Friends I understand that an ambitious new Delhi declaration is being considered. We are all aware that the Sustainable Development Goals have to be achieved by 2030 of which attainment of LDN is also a part. I wish you well as you deliberate further towards proposing a global strategy for Land Degradation Neutrality.
I would end by saying a very popular prayer from one of our oldest scriptures:
ओम् द्यौः शान्तिः, अन्तरिक्षं शान्तिः
The word Shanti does not only refer to peace or the anti-dote to violence. Here, it refers to prospering. Everything has a law of being, a purpose and everybody has to fulfil that purpose.
The fulfilment of that purpose is prosperity.
ओम् द्यौः शान्तिः, अन्तरिक्षं शान्तिः
So, it says- may the skies, heaven and space prosper.
ओषधयः शान्तिः, वनस्पतयः शान्तिः, विश्वेदेवाः शान्तिः,
May Mother Earth prosper.
This includes the flora and fauna with whom we share our planet.
May they prosper.
May every drop of water prosper.
May the divine Gods prosper.
सा मे शान्तिरेधि।।
May everybody prosper.
May I also be blessed with prosperity.
ओम् शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः।।
Om prosperity. Prosperity.
The thought and philosophy of our ancestors, was all-embracing and filled (फिल्ड) with great thought. They realized the true relationship between me and we. They knew that prosperity of me can only be through prosperity of we.
When our ancestors said we, they did not just mean their family or community or even just humans. It included the sky, water, plants, trees – everything.
It is also very important to know the order in which they are praying for peace and prosperity.
They pray for the sky, the earth, the water, the plants – these are things that sustain us. This is what we call the environment. If these prosper, then I prosper – this was their mantra. Even today, this is an extremely relevant thought.
With this spirit I once again congratulate you for taking part in this Summit.
Thank you very much.