By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 9 Sep: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while inaugurating the High Level Segment of Conference of Parties to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in the presence of heads of the UN and other international organisations, leaders of states and ministers from many countries, announced today that in order to further develop our scientific approach and facilitate induction of technology to land degradation issues, India has decided to set up a Centre of Excellence at Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education. This agency will actively engage to promote South-South cooperation with those who may wish to access knowledge, technology, and training of manpower to address land degradation related issues. Currently, 14th Conference of Parties (COP-14) of UNCCD is being held in India from 2 to 13 September, 2019. This is a major boost to the recognition of the global scientific role of Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) in addressing major forestry research and land degradation issues. ICFRE, based in Dehradun, is an autonomous body of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, which carries out its programmes on forestry research, education and extension through a network of its nine Institutes and five centres spread across various geographic zones in the country. ICFRE has done significant work on development of models for restoration of mined out areas, reclamation of sodic soil and saline lands, sand dune stabilisation, cold desert afforestation, development of windbreak agroforestry system, and green skills development programme. ICFRE has also developed high yielding varieties of various tree species to improve productivity and augment farmers’ income.Government of India has approved National REDD+ Strategy developed by ICFRE in 2018 to address deforestation and land degradation. The main role of the Centre of Excellence would be to share knowledge and technology amongst developing countries of UNCCD to arrest further land degradation and restoration of degraded lands aiming at conserving biodiversity, food and water security, support livelihoods along with maintaining the flow of ecosystem goods and services for posterity. It will facilitate networking of national and international institutions working on land sustainability and ecosystem management for knowledge sharing, capacity building of the stakeholders in land degradation neutrality (LDN) target setting and provide technical support for land degradation mapping with better resolution for developing countries. It will also be engaged in developing planning, monitoring and evaluation systems for interventions to combat land degradation through creation of a database and knowledge sharing systems. Although the UNCCD Secretariat is helping the developing country parties build their capacities in achieving LDN targets by 2030 but, still, there are a lot of gaps in capacities of the developing countries for achieving their LDN targets which shall be addressed through establishment of this South-South Centre of Excellence on land degradation. Target 15.3 of Sustainable Development Goal 15 aims to combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strives to achieve a land degradation- neutral world by 2030. The concept of land degradation neutrality (LDN) is a strong vehicle for driving the implementation of the Convention.Land Degradation Neutrality aims to sustain the productivity of land, maintain the land based natural capital, support sustainable flow of ecosystem goods and services and thus meets the needs of present and future generations. The LDN concept aims to achieve a balance between anticipated new land degradation and future efforts to improve degraded land through land restoration and sustainable land management, etc.