Question – Today entire world, including India, is facing serious problems of desertification. Discuss how relevant the ‘United Nations Desertification Prevention Convention’ (UNCCD) is in dealing with this problem.

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Question – Today entire world, including India, is facing serious problems of desertification. Discuss how relevant the ‘United Nations Desertification Prevention Convention’ (UNCCD) is in dealing with this problem. – 7 July 2021

Answer –  United Nations Desertification Prevention Convention

The threat of desertification is increasing all over the world including India. According to the United Nations, about 12 million hectares of land is turning into desert every year. 23% of the arable land around the world has become deserted. At the same time, 30% of India (about 96.40 million hectares) has been deserted. Desertification is a process in which cultivable productive land loses its productivity.

In the process of desertification, moisture is lost from the ground. The water sources in such areas also dry up and the land becomes barren. Such land is no longer useful for agriculture. Along with this, the survival of animals, birds, wildlife and flora also becomes difficult.

According to the ‘Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas’ of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the state most affected by desertification is Jharkhand, where about 69% of the land has become barren. It is followed by Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat and Goa. According to a report by the Ministry of Environment, the country is losing US$ 48.8 billion due to soil erosion and desertification.

Desert and desertification should not be mixed together as both are different structures. Where the desert itself is a complete natural system (eco system), desertification is like a natural disaster, which occurs due to over-exploitation of water and land.

UNCCD’s efforts to prevent desertification

  • UNCCD is the only international agreement, which is legally binding on environmental and development issues and it provides guidelines for the countries of the world to prevent desertification.
  • By this, ‘World Day of Desertification and Drought Prevention’ is celebrated every year on 17 June with the aim of raising public awareness about international efforts to tackle the challenge of desertification.
  • The Bonn Challenge is a global effort. Under this, by the year 2020, 150 million hectares of non-afforestation and barren land will be grown in the world and by the year 2030, on 350 million hectares of land will be grown.

Challenges

  1. Countries are not able to effectively implement the above efforts being made at the global level.
  2. Underdeveloped and developing countries fail in their efforts to stop desertification due to lack of technology and finance.
  3. Due to the selfish attitude of developed countries, they give importance to their development more than the environment.
  4. Due to the lack of awareness among the general public, there is no reduction in the prevention of activities promoting desertification.
  5. Apart from this, soil erosion from water and air, industrial waste, use of chemicals in agriculture, deforestation, rapidly increasing population etc are major problems.

UNCCD alone cannot be effective in combating the rate at which the problem of desertification is increasing. To solve this problem, the whole world needs to come together and countries as well as citizens also need to make efforts at their level. For this following efforts can be made-

  1. Rapidly increasing the rate of tree plantation, and parallel banning of deforestation.
  2. Planting plants suited to the area in the desert area.
  3. Preventing soil erosion, as well as promoting micro-irrigation in the desert area without using excessive chemical fertilizers in agriculture.
  4. Ban on illegal mining activities and entrust plantation work to corporate companies under ‘Corporate Social Responsibility.

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