Restore Land; Sustain Lives; Promote Equality
TerraGreen|June 2021
World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. In this article, Biba Jasmine helps deconstruct various ways in which the rate of land degradation and desertification can be seized. Given an understanding, desertification has an impact on the land area causing poverty rise, food insecurity, and high mortality rates, among other hardships, further leading to impoverishment, migration, and conflict. It is imperative to gauge ways in which land degradation and desertification have implications on ecosystem functioning and livelihoods. Let us come together this World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought and identify need for the concurrent attainment of social equity, environmental health, and economic wealth through addressing the challenge of land desertification, and degradation.
Biba Jasmine
In the discourse organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) on the sidelines of Conference of Parties-14 of the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification, the focus was laid on the issue of combating land degradation. It was also brought to the notice of a larger audience that India so far has believed to have invested ₹315 billion by 2013 through various schemes and plans to fight the issue of land degradation. Not just this but also the fact that in order to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN), India has a significant cleft of ₹2240 billion to be plugged. Further, TERI’s study titled ‘Economics of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought in India, 2018’ highlighted that the annual costs of land degradation are about ₹3177 billion and total costs of reclamation in 2030 will be about ₹3175 billion. Simply put, it costs far less to reclaim land than it does to degrade it. This conundrum, to a large extent, can be won if the public and private sector, along with communities, act as a whole.

We know that without fertile, productive land ecosystems, life on planet Earth is not possible. Healthy soils are home to a fifth of the world’s biodiversity, and that the rich soil ecosystem plays an important role in a variety of ecological functions and services. Healthy soil is a non-renewable resource and its formation is a long and complex process since it can take up to more than 1000 years to form 1 cm of soil.

Therefore, our efforts towards sustainable development are bound to fail, if our soil becomes unproductive. Land loss is no longer limited to Africa and Asia, though these areas remain the most severely affected. Land loss has even more negative consequences when it occurs in conjunction with poverty, a lack of institutional efficiency, and a lack of social welfare.

Land Degradation and Desertification

We all agree that land degradation and desertification is one of the world’s greatest environmental challenges and is currently being accelerated by a growing world population, alongside climate change and increasing demand for goods produced from the land, such as food and fibres. Desertification has impacted about 33 per cent of the global land surface over the last four decades, and deforestation has taken nearly one-third of the world’s arable land out of cultivation. Asia has been hit the hardest in terms of people affected since the continent is home to nearly 60 per cent of the world’s population. Of this, almost 70 per cent live in rural areas, and their livelihoods and sustenance directly depend on productive land-based ecosystem services.

Stopping land erosion may be one of the answers to the changing climate, which requires a multilateral, concerted strategy focused on equality and the concept of shared yet distinct obligations and capabilities. Land can help, but if other sectors of the economy and society, especially in the developing world, do not participate responsibly, the effects of climate change will overwhelm it.

Sustainable Development and Land Conservation

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