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Local and Regional Governments Step up to Reduce Land Degradation

Local and Regional Governments Day at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) aims to bring together mayors from across the globe, along with key stakeholders, to discuss issues pertaining to land degradation.

Land degradation is a critical issue that hinders global sustainable development.

Urban activities and changing lifestyles, coupled with rapidly increasing populations, are linked to several primary drivers of land degradation such as unsustainable resource consumption, migration and poverty. There are multiple threats posed by land degradation: it endangers food and water security, increases communities’ vulnerability to natural hazards, and can potentially compromise geopolitical stability and security.

Addressing land degradation and desertification issues is even more crucial in India given the fact that almost half of the population depends on agricultural activities for their livelihoods. The cost of land degradation is enormous;according to a study commissioned by MoEFCC in 2018, India incurred an economic loss of 2.54 percent of the 2014-15 GDP.

At the same time, local and regional governments are emerging as key actors in tackling land degradation and restoring affected land areas. Through comprehensive policy and planning approaches such as compact city planning, sustainable land management, landscape-level approaches, and rural-urban partnerships, local and regional governments can play a crucial role in halting and reversing land degradation. Various national urban development policies and programs focusing on integrated land use planning, increasing green cover and resource efficiency in urban services have strong links to combating land degradation in India.

The UNCCD, which leads the global effort to achieve land degradation neutrality, provides a conceptual framework wherein the various activities of local and regional governments can appreciably support the goal of halting and reversing land degradation.

Moreover, with the ongoing global discourse on sustainable urban development, the message is clear that there is a critical connection between climate change, land degradation, and unregulated urban expansion and none of the present global urban frameworks from the Paris Climate Agreement to the New Urban Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals, Global Land Neutrality Goal and post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will be successful without integrated discussions and actions on these themes.

The Local and Regional Governments Day has been planned in view of the significance of the topic and the potential role that local and regional governments can play.

The event will be a great opportunity for Indian cities to interact with their global peers, to understand the linkages between land degradation and urbanization and to explore solutions that address these issues. Participants will discuss the role of local and regional governments in ensuring sustainable land management. The outcomes of this event will feed into the high level segment session on ‘Rural and Urban communities - failing or flourishing together’ to be held on 9 September, 2019.

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ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability along with United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and with support from the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), is organizing the Local and Regional Governments Day on the 7th of September, 2019 alongside.

The event is part of the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD, which will take place from 2 - 13 of September, 2019 at the India Expo Centre and Mart in Greater Noida, India.

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