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Declaration on Forests and Land Use

  Mar 29, 2022

Declaration on Forests and Land Use

Q What is the context  ?

A At COP-26 in Glasgow, countries got together to sign the Declaration on Forests and Land Use (or the Deforestation Declaration). However, India was among the few countries that did not sign the declaration.

Q What is this Deforestation Declaration?

  • It was signed by 142 countries, which represented over 90 percent of forests across the world.
  • The declaration commits to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while delivering sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation.
  • The signatories committed $19 billion in private and public funds to this end.

Q Why did India abstain from joining?

  • India had concerns about the linkage the declaration makes between deforestation, infrastructure development and trade.
  • Any commitment to the environment and climate change should not involve any reference to trade, cited India.
  • Analysts in India have linked the decision to a proposed amendment to the Forest Conservation Act 1980 that would ease the clearances presently required for acquiring forest land for new infrastructure projects.

Q Why India abstained from many things ?

  • A look at India’s positions on some other recent critical pledges and decisions related to climate change reveals a clear pattern of objections or absence.
  • At CoP26, India was not part of the dialogue on Forests, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT).
  • FACT, which is supported by 28 countries seeks to encourage “sustainable development and trade of agricultural commodities while protecting and managing sustainably forests and other critical ecosystems”.
  • India also voted against a recent draft resolution to allow for discussions related to climate change and its impact on international peace and security to be taken up at the UNSC.

Q Why should India join this declaration?

  • Broadly speaking, all of India’s objections are based on procedural issues at multilateral fora.
  • Although justifiable on paper, these objections seem blind to the diverse ways in which climate change is linked to global trade, deforestation, agriculture, and international peace, among other issues.
  • For context, consider India’s palm oil trade. India is the largest importer of crude palm oil in the world.
  • Palm oil cultivation, covering roughly 16 million acres of land in Indonesia and Malaysia, has been the biggest driver of deforestation in the two countries.