By Arul Louis
United Nations, Sep 7 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate a high-level segment of the UN conference to combat desertification on Monday with a “good” announcement on efforts against the phenomenon that is a threat to climate, according to the top UN official dealing with it.
The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Ibrahim Thiaw, said on Friday, “We expect a good announcement” from Modi when speaks in Noida on what India wants to do to fight desertification.
Speaking to reporters at the UN headquarters by a video link from India, Thiaw said that he expected the meeting known formally as the 14th Conference of Parties (COP) to the UNCCD, to adopt a Delhi Declaration on combating desertification that would contribute to the Climate Action Summit here later in September.
The COP, which began on September 2, has the participation of 196 countries and the European Union (EU) and about 8,000 people are attending it.
Its high-level segment starts on Monday with Modi, the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and ministers or senior officials from other participating countries.
Prakash Javadekar, India’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, was elected to a two-year term as the president of the COP and with his expertise and experience “he is in a good position to help build synergies and cooperation” to fight desertification, Thiaw said.
Javadekar has the roadmap for the COP for the next two years and “therefore, India is actually engaged in building bridges between land and climate and bio-diversity”, he said.
He said that the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is working on an ambitious programme that would be India’s “legacy to this entire process”.
The UNCCD was adopted in Paris in 1994 to be a legally-binding document for fighting desertification through sustainable land management and has been ratified by 196 countries and the EU. The COP is the main decision-making body for the convention and meets every two years to evaluate the progress and its future course.
Thiaw said that land degradation was a serious problem for the world as it impacted climate change, food supply and health.
In 2018, 125 people died from dust storms and 200 people were injured by them, he said. Around the world, 25 countries were seriously affected by drought and sought emergency help, he added.
Land degradation cost the world a loss of 10 to 17 per cent of the gross domestic product, he said.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)