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I want to acknowledge the traditional owner of the land on which we stand today and pay my respect to their elders and their past and present. Premier Campbell Newman, Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and Friends,

Thank you very much for hosting this Reception. I am delighted to be present at this function. Congratulations to Brisbane for being such a wonderful host to G20. You did an outstanding job. I know that you have often lived in the shadow of Melbourne and Sydney. This week you have shown the world what a great city and host you are.

Today, I have started my bilateral visit to Australia and, I am pleased that it has begun here. Queensland is at the forefront of relations between India and Australia.

Earlier today, I had the privilege to unveil a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Brisbane. This has added a special bond of emotion between us. This is a symbol of the values that we share; the ideals we aspire to; and, the world we wish to build. The credit for this strong partnership between India and Queensland goes to you, Premier Newman and Lord Mayor.

Your missions to India have been very productive and brought our businesses and our people closer. Several Queensland business delegations are visiting India this year. Queensland has emerged as a major source of key resources to power India`s growth development. It is also a major destination of Indian investments. You have supported partnership in education and skills.

Queensland`s universities and research institutions are collaborating closely with India. They have used the opportunities provided by Australia-India Strategic Research Fund well.

I went to Queensland University the other day and met some of your scientists and academics. The joint research we are doing will help our farmers, especially in dry areas, and contribute to food security in India. Queensland`s fruits and vegetables are really good. There is a lot of potential for us to work together.

I am joined on this visit by a delegation of business and academic leaders from India, who are forging strong partnerships with Australia and especially with Queensland.

I am grateful to you for looking after the Indian community of nearly 100,000. Some have been here for generations, some have come more recently. But, they are really happy here. They are the bridge of friendship and understanding between us.

We can also learn and gain a lot from each other in tourism. Lord Mayor, Brisbane has emerged as centre of advanced technology; at the same time Hyderabad is also known as Cyberabad. It is natural that the two cities have a sister-city relationship. I truly welcome the engagement between states and cities. Relations between countries can prosper fully only if we bring our states and cities together.

That is why I am also very keen to involve states in India in our international engagements.

Friends, This is an exciting moment in India. A moment filled with optimism; a desire for change and progress; and the confidence to achieve it. Driven by the energy and the enterprise of our youth. This is a time to forge partnerships in India. You will find a welcoming environment that not only makes it possible, but also easy and smooth.

Here in Brisbane and at this Reception, I feel the sentiment of friendship between our people and the promise of a strong partnership in the years ahead.

I want to thank you once again for the warmth of your welcome and your hospitality.

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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.