New Delhi, 09 September: Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General, Vice-Chair UN Sustainable Development Group and UNDP Administrator, made a frutiful trip to India on 9 September 2019, where he reiterated UNDP’s commitment to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14). In addition, he met partners from the Indian government and donors to strengthen collaboration on key development issues, particularly climate action. This was his second visit to India in 2019, an indicator of the value and importance of the UNDP-India partnership.
UNDP supports countries to address land degradation challenges through policy-level support and by implementing large-scale interventions. UNDP’s policy support is led by the Global Policy Centre on Resilient Ecosystems and Desertification (GC-RED, Nairobi), which includes:
• Preparation of the second edition of the Global Land Outlook;
• Policy advocacy on Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN), i.e. moving from target setting to implementation and leveraging LDN/Land-based solutions for the Sustainable Development Goalss;
• Preparation of National Drought Plans under the UNCCD Drought initiative;
• Implementation of the UNCCD Gender Action Plan
• Launching the UN Coalition to Combat Sand and Dust Storms and co-leading, with the UNCCD and FAO, its working group on adaptation and mitigation.
“Land degradation and desertification is something that impoverishes countries, communities and people. But it is also an opportunity to act on both an ecological sustainable development path and address climate change, biodiversity and livelihoods. This COP particularly is about adopting an integrated approach - it’s the Sustainable Development Goals at work. It was an opportunity to remind ourselves, before the Secretary- General’s Climate Action Summit taking place this month, that there is no Planet B and we must act now,” he said.
While at COP14, Steiner and UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw discussed building on ongoing efforts and emerging opportunities for collaboration. He also met UN Environment Executive Director Inger Andersen and discussed potential synergies and partnerships between the two agencies, especially on climate change, biodiversity conservation and plastic waste.
At a high-level breakfast on the Great Green Wall initiative co-chaired by UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J Mohammed and Indian Minister of State for Environment Babul Supriyo, he indicated UNDP’s support to countries in the region through work on climate change adaptation and ecosystem restoration. He attended the opening ceremony of the high-level segment, where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised India’s commitment to restoring degraded land to 26 million hectares by 2030 (up from 21 million hectares). He delivered keynote remarks at a ministerial roundtable chaired by Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, where he stressed upon the link between climate change, land degradation and biodiversity, and emphasized the importance of land-based or nature-based solutions.
He also had a productive meeting with India’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Prakash Javadekar, and a follow-up with C.K. Mishra, secretary, MoEFCC. Steiner congratulated the minister on a successful COP14, and expressed his appreciation for how India has embraced transformative sustainable solutions to development challenges. He assured both the minister and the secretary of UNDP’s deep commitment to supporting India’s ambitious climate action agenda. The discussions with Indian officials reaffirmed the UNDP-India partnership in its shared vision to leave no one behind.
Steiner also held productive bilateral meetings with Green Climate Fund (GCF) Executive Secretary Yannick Glemarec and Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO Naoko Ishii, where they discussed how UNDP could work even more closely and effectively with GCF and GEF to tackle urgent and complex environmental issues.
The Administrator participated in a panel on climate change and human development, on which UNDP India is preparing a study, due to be released later this year. There was a lively exchange of ideas among the panellists Arunabha Ghosh (CEO, CEEW) and Sanyukta Samaddar (NITI Aayog), Mr. Steiner, and the moderator, journalist Sarah Jacob from NDTV. He also met with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, the founder of Isha Foundation, and discussed about the Foundation’s efforts on river vitalization. He concluded his trip with a visit to the UNDP India exhibit, taking in the ‘talking’ bench made of recycled plastic and the stories of the impact of climate change on ordinary people told via augmented reality.
For more information, please contact:
Executive Office, UNDP
Communications Officer, UNDP India
Achim Steiner’s bio and high-res photo: https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/about-us/our-leadership.html#achimsteiner