The ‘New Delhi Declaration’ adopted at the 14th CoP asserts that land degradation is largely responsible for climate change or global warming. Comment.

The 14th CoP to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), hosted by India, adopted the ‘New Delhi Declaration’ which holds land degradation responsible for climate change or global warming.

Recent reports have recently pointed to a global rise in temperature by 6-7 degrees Celsius by 2100 which is much above the threshold limit of two degrees decided in the Paris Agreement. 

The Science Advisory Committee to the UN Climate Summit in New York also highlight that the current Nationally determined contributions (NDC), in pursuance of the Paris Agreement, would not be enough to restrict the temperature rise to two degrees.

A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns of oceans turning acidic, decline of oxygen and rise in the phenomenon of ‘El Nino’ and ‘La Nina’. 

Cause and effect relationship – 

Climate change and land degradation are linked. With the present day lifestyle of people, the consumption of pattern has diversified. It has led to an increase in construction of millions of houses, factories, buildings, dams, power plants.  Besides this, there’s a need to produce food for billions around the globe. 

The requirement of huge tracts of land have led to large-scale deforestation, which ows it itself to the rise of industrialization. Now the poorer countries are on their way to destroy forests, though they are doing so to fight their poverty.

The result is rise in carbon emissions by 25 percent as a result along with all human activities pursued on the land.  This is the real cause of climate change and has taken the form of extreme weather conditions like intense & untimely rains, floods, soil erosion, and high temperatures. All of these factors cause more damage to the land, turning this into a vicious cycle. 

The deliberations at the 14th COP to UNCCD revolved mainly around land degradation and stressed that restoration of land is the cheapest solution to tackle climate change. It suggested the following measures to be taken by all nations :

  •  Restore around 150 million hectares of degraded land the world over by 2030 to increase the Earth’s capacity to absorb two gigatonnes of carbon di-oxide. 
  • An investment $1 in land restoration can earn a return of $10 prudent farm practices and water management. India has increased its land restoration target to 26 million hectares from 21 mha committed earlier in its NDCs.
  • The 14th COP has specifically suggested involvement of the private sector by providing some incentives for investment to boost saving measures. 
  • Stop creation of infrastructure in danger zones such as flood plains or hills and build climate resilient houses.
  • Recognise the role of women in land restoration
  • Assure land tenure security to locals
  • Incorporate indigenous knowledge for land restoration.

Mahatma Gandhi’s message that Nature has given us enough for our needs but not for our greed is very relevant today and we need to take urgent measures in the context of climate crisis.


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