Jun 03, 2020


Conference of Parties (COP14)

What is UNCCD all about? 

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.

The Convention entered into force in 1996. It is the only internationally legally binding framework set up to address the problem of desertification. The Convention is based on the principles of participation, partnership and decentralization—the backbone of Good Governance and Sustainable Development. 

UNCCD has 196 countries & European Union, including India. It is one of the three Conventions that were adopted by 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the other two being

What are the objectives of Conference of Parties (COP14)?

The objective of the COP 14 is to discuss on various issues of land such as 

The UNCCD COP 14 ended on 13 September 2019, after ten days of meetings. The Conference of 197 parties adopted the Delhi Declaration in which parties expressed commitment for a range of issues, including ecosystem restoration, taking action on climate change, private sector engagement, gender and health, Peace Forest Initiative and recovery of five million hectares of degraded land in India.

What was the outcome of the UNCCD CoP14 held in Delhi?

UNCCD COP14 agreed on 36 decisions to elaborate further action on the ground to ensure that the Convention’s goals for 2018-2030 are achieved. Delhi Declaration was adopted. At the closing of COP14, takeaways messages:

  1. Land restoration is the cheapest solution to climate change and biodiversity loss
  2. Land restoration makes business sense if regulations and incentives to reward investment are in place
  3. Drought preparedness and response are critical in the face of climate change
  4. To put people first is to ensure gender balance, engage youth, secure land rights

What is the New Delhi Declaration?

According to UNCCD, it an expression of political will and commitment to act towards rolling back desertification sustainably and comprehensively. It provides a strong foundation for actions, but is not binding on any government. It aims for land degradation neutrality (as specified in goal 15.3 of Sustainable Development Goals, SDG) by 2030. Land degradation neutrality is achieved when the area of productive land remains stable as the area of degraded land doesn’t increase.

What are the highlights of the New Delhi Declaration?

How will it impact public policy? 

The impact is by way of

Land-based solutions could contribute up to 30% of the Paris Emissions Treaty ambition.

India and CoP14

India announced that it would raise its ambition of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares between 2019 and 2030.

India being the global host for COP 14 took over the COP Presidency from China for the next two years till 2021.

Which approach is being followed for land restoration?

Forest landscape restoration (FLR) aproach is being adopted for achieving the goals- holistic approach centered around water, trees, biodiversity and involvement of community.

What is Bonn Challenge?

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

Is India a part of Bonn Challenge?

At the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) 2015 in Paris, India joined the voluntary Bonn Challenge and pledged to bring into restoration 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020, and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030. India’s pledge was one of the largest in Asia. During the CoP14 of the UNCCD, it was raised by 5mh more to 26mh.

India recently launched a pilot programme based on FLR. What was it?

India, on the CoP14 occasion launched a flagship project on forest landscape restoration as part of the Bonn Challenge – a global effort to restore degraded lands.  The programme 

The project launched in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) aims to enhance the capacity on forest landscape restoration (FLR) by developing and adopting best practices for sustainable land management and putting into place some monitoring protocols to combat desertification.

What are the current schemes in India for land restoration?

Current government programmes helping combat land degradation are

Why reclaim land and reverse desertification? 

Desertification and land degradation affects lives, livelihoods and the economy. According to the State of India’s Environment report (2017), nearly 30 per cent of India is degraded or facing desertification. In eight states—Rajasthan, Delhi, Goa, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh—around 40 to 70 per cent of land has undergone desertification.  A 2018 report on the Economics of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (EDLDD) found that it costs India nearly 2.54% of its GDP.

 India has around 17% of the global population, but only 2.5% of land and receives only about 1% of global rainfall, thus making it critical for the country to use its natural resources efficiently.  

What is the new Institution that is coming up in this regard and its mandate?

A centre of excellence to combat desertification of the fertile land is to be set up at the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, which will study the causes of desertification of the fertile land and devise solutions. This centre will conduct the baseline mapping, mapping of the existing schemes and programmes, setting priorities and achieving transformative projects.

What makes up the FLR approach?


Forest landscape restoration (FLR) involves regaining ecological value and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded forest landscapes. FLR is more than afforestation and planting trees – it is restoring a landscape to meet present and future needs and offer multiple benefits and land uses over time. It is about:

It is long-term because it requires a multi-year vision of the ecological functions and benefits to human well-being that restoration will produce although tangible deliverables such as jobs, income and carbon sequestration begin to flow right away.