New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called for greater South-South cooperation to higlight significant issues such as climate change, desertification, and land degradation while addressing the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at the fourteenth edition of the Conference of Parties (COP) in Greater Noida.

“Going forward, India would be happy to propose initiatives for a greater south-south cooperation to address the issues of climate change, biodiversity, and land degradation,” said the prime minister.

He also pitched for a global water action agenda concept which he said would help the nation in achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN). Two-thirds of the countries all over the world are affected by the issue of land degradation, noted PM Modi. In view of this, he set a target for the country to restore the degraded land from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares by 2030.

A centre of excellence would be developed at the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education to promote South-South cooperation by sharing knowledge, resource and technology, and training manpower to prevent land degradation, noted Modi.

“Climate change is also leading to land degradation of various kinds, be it due to rise in sea levels and wave action, erratic rainfall and storms, and sand storms caused by hot temperatures,” explained Modi. Speaking on the various initiatives taken by the country to combat the effects of climate change and land degradation, the prime minister said “Between 2015 and 2017, the country has increased its tree cover by 0.8 million hectares.”

Besides, he said that India is focusing on zero-budget natural farming. “We have also introduced a scheme to determine the soil quality of the farms. We have introduced health cards to farmers which enable them to grow right type of crops, fertilizers and the use the right quantity of water. We are increasing the use of bio-fertilizers and decreasing the use of pesticides,” said the prime minister.