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Global cooperation needed to combat land degradation

Restoring land and transitioning to clean energy are crucial for mitigating climate change

There is need to further enhance climate finance and all the promised help to finance new alternative energy projects in low income and less developed countries are to be delivered

There is need to further enhance climate finance and all the promised help to finance new alternative energy projects in low income and less developed countries are to be delivered

World Environment Day is being held on June 5, every year since 1973, led by UNEP. The Event which was held this year too on 5 June had the objective how humanity can counter three often- overlooked perils: land degradation, desertification and drought.

All of us are fully aware of the significance of Environment in our daily life, keeping the perfect balance healthy living and the existence of life on planet earth. We are so much dependent on the environment for our basic necessities like food, air, water, for that matter, our safe living is due to clean environment and any imbalance created by human excess and greed will have adverse consequences and it is our duty and obligations to protect and save our environment not only for current generation but also for future generations.

Quite lot of our actions are keeping in view the selfish short term needs without much thinking or care about future in respect of environment decay and this has already started to result in lack of clean air with lot of polluted air due to heavy emissions, lack of clean water, as the sources of water are all polluted without any attention to keep it clean, there is also lot of destruction to the sources of water and traditional sources of water like lakes, wells, ponds, and the rivers itself getting dry as construction work has come on the direction of river and as well industrial and human discharge are allowed to be mixed with river and the river water becoming difficult for human as well living spices and animals to consume. There has been excessive cutting of trees unauthorised which leads to barren land without any further forestry.

Hence looking at the current impact of decay done to our Environment, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has focused on the perils of degradation, desertification and drought with a need to take immediate steps to mitigate these by potential of land restoration, on ongoing global efforts to mitigate the climate change efforts are to be stepped up without any further delay as immediate and urgent action on reduction of fossil fuels and going for substantial investment towards alternative energy capacity creation are needed to reduce the drought, extreme heat waves, storms, cloud bursting, earthquake, rainfall deficient etc are already affecting the life particularly vulnerable countries.

It has been reiterated by all world leaders the needful to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, which the a World Meteorological Organization release recently said would likely to be breached within five years. Hence UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the world leaders to act immediately to address mounting climate risks. Similarly UNEP Deputy Executive Director Elizabeth Maruma Mrema has called for concerted international efforts to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution.

She further added that "multilateralism is our only way to solve these interconnected and integrated challenges" It is to be understood that it is now time for quicker and specific actions to mitigate these perils and global cooperation and global action have to be taken without any further delay.

The land restoration and putting end to further land degradation, desertification is also urgent action as current land degradation is estimated to affect more than 3 billion people. Inger Anderson, under Secretary-General of the UN & Executive Director of UNEP in her speech has called for actions towards restoration of land, combating desertification and building drought Resilience are key strategies to address these problems.

She further mentioned restoration boosts livelihoods, lowers poverty and builds resilience to extreme weather supporting Sustainable Development Goals. Without restored land and fully planted Green Environment, climate change gets further stepped out without having natural space for carbon storage. The excessive use of land, massive construction particularly in urban areas, infrastructure development without adhering to environmental concerns etc has already evidencing extreme heat, drought and greater loss of human and living spices. Such extreme heat is leads to sea getting hot, ice areas are getting melted, destruction of tropical coral reef systems and sea occupying higher land areas all leading to destruction of lives, pummelling economies and hammering health.

According to her, restoration of 15 per cent of degraded land and halting further conversion could avoid up to 60 per cent of expected species extinctions, making it a vital tool to achieving the Kunming - Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. There is need to further enhance climate finance and all the promised help to finance new alternative energy projects in low income and less developed countries are to be delivered, higher contribution to Loss and Damage Fund already promised and further contribution will help such countries to face the drought, floods, heat storms etc. The decisions taken at G20 countries towards adaptation and mitigation towards Net zero emissions target are to be expedited as they produce eighty percent of global emissions which UN Secretary General says "they have the responsibility, and the capacity to be out in front" He further adds that "advanced G20 economies should go furthest, fastest. Cutting down global fossil production and consumption on the agreed path is absolutely essential. A robust transition to clean energy is needed urgently.

It is necessary how the world leaders take the message of urgency and act without further delay and allocate more resources for domestic and help with resources for the needy states in a cooperation and collaborative way to protect our Environment, to avoid further degradation of land, to reduce drastically the adverse impact of climate change and make the current and future life safe and healthy for human lives and living species. UN Secretary General in his special address says "We do have a choice: Creating tipping points for climate progress or catering to tipping points for climate disaster. This is an all-in-moment. The United Nations is all in- working to build trust, find solutions, and inspire the cooperation of our world so desperately needs. It's We the People's versus the polluters and the profiteers. Together, we can win. But it is time for leaders to decide whose side they're on. Tomorrow is too late. Now is the time to mobilize, now is the time to act, now is the time to deliver" He further adds, "This is our moment of truth"

India has been facing climate related disasters and due to extreme heat, India recently lost few human lives. India is committed to achieve net zero emissions target by 2070 and has kept Interim targets.

Lowering the carbon footprint, restoring the dwindling forest cover, promoting resilient agriculture, strengthening large dams, conserving ground water, planting mangroves to protect India's coasts, making flood prone areas safer, ramping up solar power, green hydrogen, storing renewable energy in batteries, rethinking the development paradigm, safeguarding future health are some of the projects India is taking up towards building Resilience to Climate change. Along with development, the carbon emissions reductions and comprehensive action plans towards climate change are immediate and urgently required and India needs to become role model in this regard. The new government which earlier had taken substantial steps will accelerate and enhance and implement the program and both private sector and public sector and all stakeholders will involve aggressively in the fight against climate change and building adequate resilience.

(The author is former Chairman & Managing Director of Indian Overseas Bank)

Dr M Narendra
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