For the first time, India will host the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Ahead of the COP-14, Union Environment Minister launched a flagship project, part of a larger international initiative called the Bonn challenge – to enhance India’s capacity for forest landscape restoration (FLR)

About the new programme:

Implement a three and a half years pilot phase in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Karnataka.

Aim: to develop and adapt the best practices and monitoring protocols for the country and build capacity of the states.

Issue: India faces a severe problem of land degradation or soil becoming unfit for cultivation.

According to ISRO 2016 report, in 2011-13, about 29% of India’s land was degraded, with an increase of 0.57% increase from 2003-05

At the previous edition of COP (COP-13), India committed to restore 13 mn hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020 and an additional 8 mn hectares by 2030.

What is Bonn challenge?

Global effort to bring 150 million hectares of world’s deforested and degraded land under restoration by 2020, and 350 mn hectares  by 2030.

What is Land Degradation Neutrality?

Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) has been defined by the Parties of UNCCD to the Convention as:

A state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.

LDN represents a paradigm shift in land management policies and practices. It is a unique approach that counterbalances the expected loss of productive land with the recovery of degraded areas. LDN is a way of land use planning with major focus on conservation, sustainable management and land restoration.


As land is a finite natural resource, there is a constant struggle to control more land and capitalize the flow of goods and services from the land.  Such kind of struggles are potent enough to cause social and political instability, fuel poverty, conflict and migration. For this reason, the implementation of LDN requires multi-stakeholder engagement and planning across scales and sectors, supported by national-scale coordination that utilizes existing local and regional governance structures.