October 16, 2012

India Pledges $50 Million To Strengthen Biodiversity Conservation

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

India pledged $50 million on Tuesday for strengthening institutional mechanisms on biodiversity conservation in the country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, while speaking at the inauguration of the high level segment of the Eleventh Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, that India will be using the funds to enhance the technical and human capabilities of national and state-level mechanisms to attain the Convention of Biological Diversity objectives.

"I am pleased to launch the Hyderabad Pledge and announce that our government has decided to earmark a sum of $50 million during India's presidency of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to strengthen the institutional mechanism for biodiversity conservation in India," said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He said his administration has also earmarked funds to help promote similar capacity building in developing countries. However, he noted it has become more difficult in recent years to find common ground on environmental issues.

"This is, indeed, unfortunate given that there is today a much higher global awareness of environmental risks and concerns," Singh said at the event. "It is this consciousness that should provoke us to greater action even as we cope with the pressures of the current global economic downturn."

He said India has recently ratified the Nagoya Protocol and formalized its commitment to it, and that he is urging all parties to do the same.

"I am, however, glad that negotiations regarding biodiversity have achieved remarkable success," the Prime Minister said.

The Nagoya Protocol is an international treaty that works towards conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.

During the 2010 Nagoya meeting, countries identified 20 biodiversity targets to be pursued in the decade to 2020.

"Despite global efforts, the 2010 biodiversity target that we had set for ourselves under the Convention on Biological Diversity was not fully met. This situation needs to change. The critical issue really is how to mobilize the necessary financial, technical and human resources, particularly the incubation, sharing and transfer of technology," Singh continued.

The Prime Minister said biodiversity-based livelihood options form the basis of rural survival in many parts of the world.

"Living at the periphery of subsistence, the poor are the most at risk from biodiversity loss. They should not also be the ones to bear the cost of biodiversity conservation while the benefits are enjoyed by society at large," he said at the event. "India's initiatives acknowledge this correlation between biodiversity conservation and poverty eradication."

The 11th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP11) to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) have about 15,000 delegates from over 185 countries attending.

Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister for Environment and Forests, asked all parties to agree to at least some measures for resource mobilization to reach biodiversity targets by 2020. She said that if there was no agreement reached, four years of the 2010 - 2020 strategic plan would be gone, which would make it difficult to achieve biodiversity targets.

"It will be a collective failure, which we should avoid at all cost. We once failed to achieve 2010 targets and future generations will not forgive us if we fail again in 2012," Natarajan said at the event.

A U.N. report on food security released in Hyderbad on Tuesday warned that overfishing was undermining the ecological basis of global fisheries.

The report quoted a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) finding that 53 percent of global marine stocks were fully exploited.

According to the report, a warmer world would result in the degradation of coastal water quality, and spike ocean acidity levels that would further impact marine fisheries.

Another report by the U.N. highlighted the degradation and loss of wetlands due to urban expansion and unsustainable agriculture and industrial growth.

"There is an urgent need to put wetlands and water-related ecosystem services at the heart of water management to meet the social, economic and environmental needs of a global population predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050," Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN's Environment Program (UNEP), said in a statement.