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2019-06-18

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Geography
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Lost cover:A view of rampant deforestation in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam.Ritu Raj Konwar;Ritu_Raj_Konwar - Ritu Raj Konwar  

India for the first time will host the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September.

It will see participation from at least 5,000 delegates from nearly 197 countries and will be held between September 2 and 14 in Delhi, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said.

Ahead of the COP-14, Mr. Javadekar launched a flagship project, part of a larger international initiative called the Bonn Challenge, to enhance India’s capacity for forest landscape restoration (FLR).

Building capacity

It will be implemented during a pilot phase of three-and-a-half years in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Karnataka. The project will aim to develop and adapt the best practices and monitoring protocols for the country, and build capacity within the five pilot States.

This will eventually be scaled up across the country, Saibal Dasgupta, a senior official in the Forest Division of the Union Environment Ministry, told The Hindu.

India faces a severe problem of land degradation, or soil becoming unfit for cultivation. A 2016 report by the Indian Space Research Organisation found that about 29% of India’s land (in 2011-13) was degraded, this being a 0.57% increase from 2003-05.

At the previous edition of the COP, India had committed to restore 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by the year 2020, and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030.

The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land under restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.

The United Nations has three major Conventions: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Established in 1994, the UNCCD is the only legally binding international agreement linking environment and development issues to the land agenda.

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