COP15 Diary: CBD should be honoured in biodiversity conservation


Government heads, their representatives, environment activists and members of the civil society started gathering in Montreal, Canada, from December 7 to form agreement on a new set of goals to guide global action through 2030 to halt and reverse nature loss.

I joined the UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15, today as a representative of India.

Preservation of biodiversity and reversing its losses arecritical to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. India under Honourable Prime Minister is taking earnest steps to not just conserve biodiversity but also restore it.

India recognises the urgent need for the adoption of a bold global biodiversity framework that addresses the key drivers of nature loss to be able to save Planet Earth and also save human lives and livelihoods.

I presented India’s national statement today at the Conference highlighting that credible action is the source of strength and optimism in facing all global challenges including biodiversity.

Despite having 17 per cent of the global population, but only 2.4 per cent of the land area and only 4 per cent of its water resources, India is taking bold and significant efforts for biodiversity conservation. I highlighted that our forest and tree cover are steadily rising, together with our wildlife population. India has taken definitive steps in reintroducingcheetah to the habitats. India has taken a quantum leap in the number of declared Ramsar sites, with 75 sites being given the international tag. I stated that as a large developing country, our forest policy is challenging to implement but our forest surveys are testimony to its success.

I also drew attention to the fact that India’s balance sheet in implementing the Aichi targets is encouraging and India is on track to meeting its commitments.

I also underlined that as we move to the Global Biodiversity Framework, our experience shows that area-based targets are a one-size-fits-all-approach that is not acceptable. Similarly, our agriculture, as for other developing countries, is the source of life, livelihoods and culture for hundreds of millions. Their food and nutrition security must be ensured, while supporting the modernisation of their activity. Essential support to vulnerable sections cannot be called subsidy and targeted for elimination, while they may be rationalized. Biodiversity must be promoted through positive investment. I said a numerical global target for pesticide reduction is unnecessary and must be left to countries to decide. India takes numerous steps to keep Invasive Alien Species at baybut a numerical target is not feasible without the necessary baseline and relevant scientific evidence.

The Global Biodiversity Framework must be framed in the light of science and equity, and the sovereign right of nations over their resources, as provided for in the Convention on Biodiversity. It must recognise the responsibility of developing countries towards poverty eradication and sustainable development. If climate is profoundly linked to biodiversity, then the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities must equally apply to biodiversity.

I also said that nature-based solutions to global warming and other environmental challenges are not an answer without resolute action by developed countries to measure up to their historical and current responsibilities. Nature cannot protect if it is not itself protected. We cannot only conserve, preserve and restore. We must also promote sustainable use.

The provision of the means of implementation must match our ambition. The MDGs had 8 goals, the SDGs have 17 goals, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets were 20 and the Global Biodiversity Framework may have 23 targets. The increased expectations through these targets and for them to be effectively implemented call for matching means of implementation, especially through public finance. But our only source of funding remains the Global Environment Facility that caters to multiple Conventions.

I drew attention to the fact that the value of biodiversity to humankind also lies in its economic dimension alongside the cultural and social. Sustainable use and access and benefit sharing are key to promoting biodiversity, alongside the efforts to conserve, protect and restore. Modern technologies, especially information technology, can assist our goals. Hence the Digital Sequencing Information must be linked to access and benefit sharing.

India is looking forward to fruitful deliberations that will preserve and enhance our natural heritage. What is needed for the preservation today is mindful and deliberate utilization, instead of mindless and destructive consumption. In this context, Hon’ble PM Modi has launched the Mission LiFEwhich is mass movement towards an environmentally conscious lifestyle. I asked the delegates to embrace it andmove forward towards an equitable and sustainable world by implementing the foundational principles of CBD, both in letter and spirit.