Desertification, land degradation and drought key drivers of migration: India at UNCCD conference

Desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) act as one of the drivers of migration, India said on Saturday at the 15th international conference of the UNCCD which is underway at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa.

Making a statement on behalf of India, Joint Secretary, Environment, Jigmet Takpa asserted that the youth are most likely to face migration and engaging them is vital to restoration efforts for resilient and sustainable food systems.

India, which has handed over the presidency of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) COP 15 to Cote d’Ivoire after presiding over it for two years, called for prioritising integrated land-use planning together with enhancing green and blue infrastructure for sustainable development.

Apart from desertification, land degradation and drought, other factors that could cause migration include climate and environmental changes. 

In rural areas affected by DLDD, livelihood opportunities through land restoration activities should be ensured, he said. 

The Indian official said that a stronger symbiotic urban-rural linkage targeting vulnerable groups that include women, rural youth, refugees, and internally displaced person must be provided with on-farm and off-farm employment. 

“Youth are most likely to face migration and engaging youth is vital to restoration efforts for resilient and sustainable food systems,” he said. 

The Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner under Ministry of Home Affairs is the designated authority in India that compiles information on migration based on the data compiled during national census which usually takes place at a gap of ten years’ time interval.

Reducing the extent of human migration is one of the pronounced achievements of watershed development programmes being implemented by Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, the official said. 

Watershed is an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas.

“About 60 percent of the amount spent in each watershed goes for labour component which generates substantial employment for the local landless, small and marginal farming community people.

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“Use of machinery in watershed activities is kept to the minimum so that employment opportunities are kept intact which minimize human migration from the watershed project areas,” Takpa said. 

Indian environment minister Bhupender Yadav spoke at the BRICS high-level meeting on Climate Change on Friday where he highlighted the relevance of the forum to jointly address climate change, to explore approaches to accelerate low-carbon and resilient transition, and to achieve sustainable recovery and development. 

Also read | PM Modi on climate: what is ‘Lifestyle for Environment’?

The COP15 is being held with an aim to restore 1 billion hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 besides also focusing on how to handle droughts, sand and dust storms, wildfires and other disaster risks.

Over 2,000 delegates from 196 countries are attending UNCCD COP 15, which commenced on May 9 and is likely to conclude on May 20. 

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