COP14: Conference reaches major breakthroughs

Press Release

Joint Press Statement of Mr. Prakash Javadekar, President COP 14 and Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UNCCD

New Delhi, 13 September 2019 – The global community has long recognized that land degradation/desertification is a major economic, social and environmental problem of concern to many countries in all regions of the world. In an unprecedented global campaign to save productive land, country parties have agreed to make the Sustainable Development Goal target of achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030 a national target for action.

Countries will address insecurity of land tenure, including gender inequality in land tenure, promote land restoration to reduce land-related carbon emissions and mobilize innovative sources of finance from public and private sources to support the implementation of these decisions at country-level. 

The framework used for reporting action will be improved to ensure it captures key issues, such as gender equality, drought response and the influence of consumption and production patterns and flows on land degradation. Through the Delhi Declaration, ministers expressed support for new initiatives or coalitions aiming to improve human health and well-being, the health of ecosystems, and to advance peace and security.

India’s Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi opened the ministerial segment on Monday, 9 September in the presence of Prime Minister of St. Vincent and Grenadines, Mr. Ralph Gonsalves and UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, but the Conference opened on Monday, 2 September. 

In his address, Mr. Modi underlined the importance of water in combating land degradation. He said, “I call upon leadership of UNCCD to create a global water action agenda, which is central to land degradation neutrality strategy”. He stated that the government has launched a program to double the income of farmers by increasing crop yield through various measures. This includes land restoration and micro irrigation. He said, ‘We are working with the motto of per drop more crop’. The Hon’ble PM reiterated India’s commitment to the global land agenda. He announced 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.

Mr. Prakash Javadekar, Indian Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change and President of COP 14, reiterated the country’s commitment to achieving land degradation neutrality by the SDG target year, 2030. He also promised to provide an effective leadership to the UNCCD during his two-year tenure of Presidentship.

“To my mind, this was the COP where we put people at the heart of what we do,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, with Parties adopting a breakthrough decision on land tenure rights and drawing on the unique voices, experiences of youth and women. 

COP 14 also adopted a landmark decision to buttress global efforts to better mitigate and manage the risks of drought and to build resilience.

“We have woken up to the fact that we will see more frequent and severe droughts, a phenomenon that will be exacerbated by climate change”, Thiaw added.

Thiaw also drew attention to the contribution of COP 14 to the Climate Action Summit, stressing that land restoration, at scale, is one of the cheapest solutions to address the global crises of climate and biodiversity loss. 

Thiaw also underscored the message to the upcoming New York Summits is clear, “investing in land, unlocks multiple opportunities.”

He said a global movement of restoration, anchored in nature-based solutions would deliver benefits for the three Rio Conventions and for many of the world’s most pressing issues.

Lastly, Thiaw drew attention to the role the private sector play in land restoration going forward, including through promoting sustainable value chains, as well as the incentives that will draw them in, such as the regulation in support of innovation for sustainable land management and rewarding conservation, restoration and sustainable use of resources.

The Conference drew the interest of nearly 9,000 participants. Delegates, including ministers, heads of United Nations and intergovernmental bodies, youth, local governments, business leaders and representatives of non-governmental organizations participate in the Conference, whose theme is “Investing in Land, Unlocking Opportunities.” COP14, ends today after 10 days of meetings, 11 high-level, 30 committee and over 170 stakeholder meetings and 44 exhibitions. 

Notes to Editors

Additional Quotes

Gustavo Fonseca, Director of Programs of the GEF: “Parties welcomed GEF’s ongoing support of the UNCCD agenda and provided the GEF with a fresh mandate to focus on transformative land-based action through its Impact Programs. We look forward to working together to help countries reach their voluntary Land Degradation Neutrality targets, in view of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

About India and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change

India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention for Combating Desertification (UNCCD). The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is the nodal Ministry of Government of India (GoI) that oversees implementation of the Convention in the country. India’s population is projected to reach 1.7 billion by 2050. About 2 billion hectares of land – an area over three times the size of India – are degraded, but can be restored back to health. India was one of the first countries to commit to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal target of achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN). India is the current President of COP14 and will serve for 2 years. As with previous COP sessions, a high-level segment is in progress to raise political momentum for the negotiations and boost the engagement of stakeholders in the Convention’s implementation. 


The UNCCD is an international agreement on good land stewardship. It helps people, communities and countries to create wealth, grow economies and secure enough food and water and energy, by ensuring land users have an enabling environment for sustainable land management. Through partnerships, the Convention’s 197 Parties set up robust systems to manage drought promptly and effectively. Good land stewardship based on a sound policy and science helps integrate and accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, builds resilience to climate change and prevents biodiversity loss.

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