Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) organized Desertification and Drought Day today, under the chairmanship of Shri Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. This day is commemorated by the Ministry every year, with an aim to generate large scale awareness for understanding the key role of land in all environmental and economic concerns facing India and the world.
The commemoration of this event encourages individuals and groups to take initiatives that can keep the land healthy and productive. The event showcased presentations on various aspects of desertification such as on Initiative taken on restoration of Banni grassland, experience on Indian eco-restoration of deserts, forestry certification & achieving land degradation neutrality.
The Union Minister released Forest Stewardship Council’s Forest Stewardship Standard for India. This India-specific, voluntary forest management standard will give impetus to third-party auditing of forest owners for various principles, criteria and indicators. Forest certification is an important tool to combat desertification and promote forest sustainability. FSC forest certification will support Atmanirbhar Bharat goals and country’s efforts towards meeting our international commitments under SDGs, CBD, UNCCD, UNFCCC and Bonn Challenge.
Enlightening experiences were shared on management of desertification and land degradation by progressive farmer & conservationist Shri Sunda Ram Verma, Padma Shree awardee, 2020 and by Shri Himmata Ram Bhambhu, Padma Shree awardee, 2020, forest & wildlife enthusiast.
The programme also included a detailed presentation on road map for combating desertification by Shri Chandra Prakash Goyal, IFS, Director General of Forest and Special Secretary, MoEF&CC followed by key note address by Ms. Leela Nandan, Secretary, MoEF&CC wherein both the officers talked about the threat, composite and cohesive Action Plan.
The Union Minister highlighted that India has been at the forefront of bringing the issue of land degradation to the core of relevant international alliances for protection and conservation of environment. India hosted the 14th session of Conference of parties (COP 14) of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September 2019 and recommendations of the Inter-Governmental working group report on Drought in COP-15. The Minister mentioned that the Prime Minister had said that India is striving towards achieving the national commitments of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) and restoration of 26 Mha of degraded land by 2030. This would focus on sustainable and optimum utilisation of land resources. Government of India has adopted collective approach for making progress towards achieving the national commitments related to land restoration, said the Minister.
Shri Yadav also quoted the one-word mantra introduced by our Prime Minister – LIFE, which means Lifestyle for Environment. He remarked that there is a need for all of us to examine our current lifestyle choices. He strongly felt that what is needed today is mindful and deliberate utilization, instead of mindless and destructive consumption and this needs to become a mass movement of environment conscious life style. He stressed upon optimum utilization of native wisdom for work in agriculture and land improvement. He asked the Ministry to coordinate with 8 other related Ministries which are involved in restoration of land degradation. The Minister emphasised on the role of women in land management. Combating desertification should be achieved in mission mode, the Minister concluded.