New Delhi, India – During a national workshop co-hosted by UNCCD and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change of India (MoEFCC) on 4–5 December 2018, policy makers, researchers and representatives of civil society organizations, intergovernmental organizations (CSOs) and the private sector provided their input for developing India's national strategy on land degradation neutrality (LDN).
In his opening speech, the UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary Dr. Pradeep Monga emphasized the significance of LDN for fostering coherence of national policies, actions and commitments to achieve SDGs. Over the course of the workshop, the experts discussed technical issues related to setting LDN baseline, formulation of LDN targets, institutional framework and opportunities for LDN transformative projects and programs.
At the beginning of 2018, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change of India, had declared India’s commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030. Since then, India has stepped up its efforts towards setting the national targets to achieve LDN and SDG 15.3 that contribute towards national priorities of climate resilience, energy, water and food security and the national ambition of increasing the income of farmers and alleviation of poverty.
Given the fact that land is one of the most valuable resources in India, setting national LDN targets can ensure political commitment and economic opportunity for India by achieving multiple benefits while creating job opportunities and green value chains. Experts report that over the past decade India has significantly reduced the rate of land degradation, reflecting on the success or various government policies and programmes in India. Now the country is ready to move up to the next level not only to avoid future degradation but to restore and rehabilitate already degraded land, such as wastelands and abandoned mines. Integrating land restoration, climate policy, food security and disaster risk management into a coherent policy framework is instrumental to the success of these plans. With the corporate environmentalism evolving fast in India, there is a growing array of funding options and mechanisms for supporting transformative land degradation neutrality projects and programmes.
Addressing the workshop participants, Mr. Anil Kumar Jain of MoEFCC confirmed India’s commitment to a robust and forward-looking national strategy that is inclusive of social, environmental and ecological goals. In the upcoming months, the country will continue its work towards developing the national strategic plan for achieving LDN.