The 14th edition of the Conference of Parties (CoP-14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) concluded here on Friday with rather ambiguous resolutions on land titles and drought — two major sticking points that the 12-day high-level meet was expected to take up.
Though the Delhi Declaration released at the end of the UNCCD CoP-14 was vague about giving land tenure to private organisations for restoring degraded land, as was anticipated earlier, the meet agreed that land restoration makes business sense if there are regulations and incentives to reward the investment.
Experts who participated in the meet also reiterated that land restoration is the cheapest solution to challenges posed by climate change and biodiversity loss.
The declaration said the global community has long recognised that land degradation/desertification is a major economic, social and environmental concern to many countries around the world.
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.
It said the countries have agreed to make the Sustainable Development Goal of achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030 a national target for action, in an unprecedented global campaign to save productive land.
The countries have promised to address insecurity of land tenure, including gender inequality in land tenure, promote land restoration to reduce land-related carbon emissions and mobilise innovative sources of finance from public and private sources to support the implementation of these decisions at the country level.
Earlier, addressing a press conference, CoP president and Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, said India has committed “our own actions in our country to ensure that more and more degraded land is restored. We are already working on climate change and biodiversity also.”
“We are now not only planning and documenting but also improving our biodiversity, thereby we believe that in all three conventions, we have to work with synergy,” he said.
UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thaiw said land is a major sink for carbon and restoring land would ensure that carbon goes back to the soil rather than being in the atmosphere, leading to climate change. He said this is the message participants are taking to New York, which will host a high-level climate summit in a fortnight.