- Background of United Nations Conventions to Combat Desertification (UNCCD):
- Is any significant progress achieved in last 25 years?
- Does the technology, seriousness and willpower exist among the participating countries?
- Technology and resources in conservation of water in India
- Sources of water in India:
- Is there need to revive conventional wisdom in water conservation?
- Future of traditional ways of conservation:
- Role of modern technology achievements in achieving goals of convention:
Efforts to tackle Climate Change
- India is hosting a unique kind of convention which is United Nations Conventions to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). 197 countries of the world with 5000 delegates comprising experts and policy makers are in Delhi to find out ways how to stop desertification and improve the quality of land.
Background of United Nations Conventions to Combat Desertification (UNCCD):
- When this convention was negotiated in 1992, the developed countries raised the issue that land degradation is not a global issue.
- But countries like Africa said that this issue is important to them and equal to other environmental challenges and it should be defined as a global issue because the entire world community must come to help them.
- The international community finally accepts the issue and admits that countries would need help in the form of finance, technology and experiences to take care of this problem.
- Though issue is not affecting the whole world but certainly its impacting billions of lives of particular poor countries and the problem is continuously expanding. It is a problem on global scale.
Is any significant progress achieved in last 25 years?
- In the first year, the countries gathered to understand the problem as the nature and scale of the problem varies country to country.
- The initial phase of understanding is over now and there is work plan and structure laid out.
- Once the preparatory work gets over and countries start implementation, which is happening, it makes things easier because of two reasons:
- Global consensus on the nature of the problem
- Global consensus about the solution
- But the nature of the convention is that it confines the poor countries and so, the poor countries are not asking the reach countries for something.
- The convention is about the forum of ideas to exchange the views and how to solve the problems. It also about discussion among diplomats and experts which will help them to analyze the issue and implement the success stories in other countries.
- By 2020, the India wants to recover the 150 million in 15 crores hectare of land and by 2030 it wants to recover 350 million in 35 hectare crores of land.
Does the technology, seriousness and willpower exist among the participating countries?
- The nature of the international treaties is that the International target making can’t be enforced. The treaties do serve as a benchmark for governments to aim towards a certain target and that countries have achieved.
- The periodic meetings force the countries to review the domestic plans before coming to international plans.
- Even if the targets are not achieved, once the government moves into that direction then implementation takes place at a very fast pace.
- The environment minister has recently announced flagship environment program for five states i.e. Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Karnataka.
Technology and resources in conservation of water in India:
- If India has the willpower to solve this issue. It is required to have supplemented by some technology and resources also.
- The Indian government hasn’t chosen desert areas. Areas which are facing land degradation and having some rainfall are chosen for the program by the government.
- So, it is doable as the rainfall is conserved which is traditional. For example, the first ruler of Delhi established a ‘Bandi’ (reservoir) with the establishment of the city.
- If people start to conserve the rainfall water, then ponds and lakes can be revived. But unfortunately the basic wisdom for traditional conservation of water has been lost. At some places say Baoli (step well) in Delhi, people created colonies over there. This should be undone.
- People also forgot that the technology can only bring water from one place to another. If the source itself dried up than no water to pump or transfer.
Sources of water in India:
- In conservation of water, India is blessed with two monsoons. If we conserve the monsoon rainfall, it not only recharges the ground water but also the rivers.
- Even with climate change, scientists have predicted that glaciers will not melt in India because the major glaciers are not receding and have huge amount of snow cover. These glaciers are source to many of Indian rivers.
- On other side, monsoon distribution may change but the overall rainfall will not change. So, there is a scope to conserve the rainfall in various areas of country including that of selected states of program.
- And if the drip irrigation usage is introduced with modern technologies along with the success in bandis and use traditional water conservation method like tanka then it can certainly make an impact with change in universal process that is taking place. This may improve the quality of land.
Is there need to revive conventional wisdom in water conservation?
- Yes, it has to be revived.
- Traditional wisdom has not vanished from India because it is a civilizational wisdom and it is a part of Indian tradition. The change has taken place in the land use, land laws and regulations.
- During British time, these changes have taken place as they introduced new land laws, they took away village boundary and made them government land.
- Earlier villages collectively conserve and clean water in ponds and lakes.
- At the same time, people has forgotten their traditional way of living like in Punjab and Haryana where farmers replaced wheat with rice which has caused land degradation.
Future of traditional ways of conservation:
- People are actually going back to the traditional methods, as urbanization is taking place, new health problems are arriving and people are moving towards older lifestyle.
- For example, millets (a coarse grain) are going to be very popular now a day in India.
- In agriculture also, going back to the traditional cropping pattern system which is healthy for the soil is a much needed thing. Because traditional methods do not degrade the soil and do not require the high levels of fertilizer.
- People will demand more for these healthy crops and grains as middle class is growing wealthier so, it will continue to happen.
Role of modern technology achievements in achieving goals of convention:
- With the help of satellite imagery, the crop can be analyzed, land changes can be seen, so it adds a new dimension in land conservation.
- The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) also been playing an important role as it has found out that the international model of conservation will not suit India as India has unique monsoon pattern and the scientists are in advanced stage to find models for India about the changing patterns of rain in India.
- Now, India can share its modern scientific knowledge with countries like Africa who are on similar footing and facing similar problems. Sharing of information and knowledge is very important as it deals with the basic issues that all these similar countries are facing. This can improve relations with that country also.
- As India is going to host the 14th convention of UNCCC at the very right time. It will be a good opportunity for India and for those countries who share same problems (African continent) on the common platform like this.
- So, sharing of experience, collective traditional knowledge and resources will surely make this convention an international cooperation.