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Prime Minister Bainimarama, Distinguished members of the media

I feel really privileged to have the opportunity to visit Fiji. I am delighted that this moment has come so early in my tenure.It is also soon after a successful parliamentary election in Fiji.

I want to congratulate the people of Fiji on a remarkable election and you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your victory.

From the time we arrived, I have been charmed and moved by Fiji`s beauty and your extraordinary welcome.

I regard Fiji as an important partner for India. We have deep and enduring ties of history and culture. Fiji is an influential voice in the Pacific Region and the developing world, and our partner in multilateral institutions.

We face many common global challenges. We have shared interests in peace and cooperation in our inter-linked ocean regions.

Our bilateral relations and international partnership has been strong. But, we are also aware that the relationship has at times been adrift; and that our cooperation should be much stronger than it is.So, I see this visit as an opportunity to renew an old relationship and lay the foundation for a strong partnership in the future.

Prime Minister and I had very productive talks. I complimented him for seeking to build an inclusive Fijian nation, which guarantees rights, and provides a life of opportunity and dignity, to all its citizens.I thanked him for including India in his priorities and for his leadership in promoting India-Fiji ties.

We agreed to consult more closely on international issues of mutual interest, including international trade, climate change, United Nations Peacekeeping and UN reforms.

Fiji could serve as a hub for stronger Indian engagement with Pacific Islands.

We will also expand our defence and security cooperation, including assistance in defence training and capacity building. We agreed to identify opportunities to expand our trade and investments and work out a concrete roadmap.

In addition to traditional areas of economic cooperation, we look forward to closer engagement in areas like information technology and Space applications.

India will remain a committed development partner for Fiji. I thanked him for his support on India`s new assistance projects in Fiji. These include:

• a Parliament Library; • A fund of five million US dollar to promote small business and village enterprises in Fiji. • A line of credit of 70 million US dollars for a co-generation power plant. • And, doubling the scholarships and training slots in India for Fiji.

We will do more in other areas such as tourism and cultural exchanges. I am happy to announce Visa on arrival for Fijians.

India and Fiji feel the impact of climate change.

We are also prepared to increase cooperation in renewable energy, especially solar and wind energy, and in building capacity to adapt to climate change.

In addition, we could share our experience and expertise in disaster management and response.

Let me also thank you, Prime Minister, for providing a great platform for the first ever interaction between India and Pacific Islands.

I want to offer to convey a special word of gratitude from the people of India for hosting Indian scientists for tracking India`s Mars Mission earlier this year. Together we made history.

I am confident that this visit, especially my meeting with Prime Minister Bainimarama, will mark the start of a new era India-Fiji relations.

I am looking forward to the rest of my day here, including the honour of addressing the Parliament.

Thank you

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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.