New Delhi, Apr 27 (PTI) Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD) cost India about 2.54 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014-15, a new study commissioned by the Environment Ministry has found.
Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan had released the study of Economics of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (EDLDD) conducted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and commissioned by the ministry during the inaugural session of the four-day Asia Pacific Regional Workshop of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The workshop concluded today.
Desertification is the process of fertile land becoming desert, typically as a result of drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture.
"The report has highlighted that DLDD factors had cost India about 2.54 per cent of its GDP in 2014-15," an official statement released at the end of the workshop today said.
Vardhan during the inaugural session had said that globally, drylands lose 23 hectares per minute to drought and desertification which translated into a loss of 20 million tonnes of potential foodgrain production in a year.
The workshop had been jointly hosted by the Environment Ministry and UNCCD Secretariat.
Addressing the closing session, Union Environment Secretary C K Mishra said the workshop will enable country parties to participate effectively and efficiently in the UNCCD reporting process, to submit the national report in time and in particular for target 15.3 on Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).
He added that the workshop has not only provided a diverse and multi-disciplinary knowledge-sharing platform addressing DLDD issues, but also an opportunity to bring all key stakeholders from Asia to India and discuss key aspects of reporting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).
Deputy Executive Secretary UNCCD Pradeep Monga highlighted the importance of addressing land degradation, desertification and drought for developing countries including India.
He commended India for its leadership role in supporting the Convention and putting land agenda at the core of SDGs.
Director General of Forests Siddhanta Das said the targets under the Convention can be achieved through carbon sequestration and preventing soil erosion by enriching forests.
The four-day workshop (April 24-27) trained the participants in the use of an innovative land degradation monitoring tool by Conservation International, for the reporting process of UNCCD.
"This can significantly increase access to large amounts of Earth observation data and make it available in a comprehensible form for decision-makers at national and state level, thereby contributing to achieving the objectives underlined in the Convention.
The participants included delegates from about 40 Asia Pacific countries, as well as representatives from 12 Indian states affected by land degradation, scientists and researchers from scientific institutions of national importance and line-Ministries.
The participants were trained in the use of the state-of-the-art tool called "Trends.Earth" developed by Conservation International, an NGO.
"The loss of productivity in both natural and managed ecosystems has serious ramifications for food security and nutrition, water availability and employment.
"Knowing where hotspots or problem areas are, is the first step ahead towards combating land degradation. With this data, policy-makers can prioritize areas for interventions to improve the livelihoods in rural communities that directly depend on healthy land," the statement added.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the only legally binding international agreement on land issues.
The Convention promotes good land stewardship. Its 197 parties aim, through partnerships, to implement the Convention and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
The end goal is to protect land from over-use and drought, so it can continue to provide food, water and energy.
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