Ankara, Jul 7 : The United Nations Convention to Combat desertification (UNCCD) expects to get big impetus from its 14th Conference of Parties (COP), to be held in New Delhi early this September, as "Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be able to bring the world leaders together" on the issues.
"The COP is taking place in Delhi and we are hopeful that convention would get big impetus from thereon,'' said Dr Barron Joseph Orr, Lead Scientist UNCCD, adding that the "Modi magic" would further its cause and bring global political leadership together to tackle the issues more vigorously than ever before.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been instrumental in creating the International Solar Alliance that has grown to the size of 75 signatory countries and now UNCCD expects something similar from Mr Modi this time. Some 196 countries and the European Union are parties to the Convention, of which 169 are affected by desertification, land degradation or drought. The world loses 24 billion tons of fertile soil and dryland degradation reduces national domestic product in developing countries by up to 8pc annually.
When asked about global leadership taking not much interest in the Convention, Dr Orr said, ''We have asked that of ourselves all the time. We also recognise that in terms of visibility and financial commitment we are smaller than other Conventions.''
Talking to UNI, he said apart from Modi-effect, the UNCCD will also change its approach.
"To draw carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back into the soil needs startup investment and there lies the challenge. Now instead of talking of 'single goal of fine narrow focus of convention', the UNCCD will focus on multiple benefits to get the political will' in its favour. It is easy to convince political leaderships for investment by underlining multiple benefit," he underlined.
Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UNCCD on the sideline of an event last month had also hoped that New Delhi COP will be a turning point for the Convention."When we look at the evidence that has been coming from global assessments, the estimate that is the most common, 25 per cent of land is degraded. Much more important finding is that 75 per cent of land has been transformed from its natural state. Not that all has been degraded, its going into agriculture, etc, and not in its natural state. So we are heading into a very unsustainable situation," added Dr Orr.The UNCCD scientist said that India was one of those countries that was taking a lot of interest in land degradation, which meant that the country has very rich assessment of the problem and their assessments were showing that 29 per cent of land was already degraded.
''They also have some of the most progressive programmes for restoration, whether its forest restoration or otherwise, in the world. It is my understanding that they have taken a strong interest in this concept of land degradation neutrality. They have already done a good job of protection. They are going to pay attention to avoiding degradation on one side and really continue to invest in degradation on the other, to meet the country's food security needs, energy needs etc,'' opined Dr Orr.
He also lauded China for its efforts to attain land degradation neutrality. The term refers to a situation where the same type of land in the same geographical area is restored. ''China actually, through policy, has a system towards land degradation neutrality. They have also massive forestation projects. Not just physical restoration -- what kind of crop can grow there, how much income farmers may have from it,'' he pointed out.(UNI)