COP Diary: India pitches for greater cooperation in preserving mangroves

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The series of negotiations and deliberations continued at COP27 at Sharm-el Sheikh today. While I continued to hold bilateral meetings with representative from different countries on the sidelines of the Conference of Parties putting forth India’s concerns and ideas, I also attended the Mangrove Alliance for Climate Launch hosted by the Kingdom of United Arab Emirates. The event brought together nations from around the world together under one roof, to advance the global cause of mangroves, one of the marvels of Mother Nature.

Under Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, India has been working towards restoring and preserving its ecosystem. Mangroves are one of the most productive ecosystems of the world and India is blessed with a rich variety of mangroves in Sunderbans, Andamans and Gujarat.

This tidal forest serves as a nursery ground for several organisms, which protects coastal erosion, sequestering the carbon and providing livelihood for millions of people besides harbouring an array of faunal elements in its habitat. They are among the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics. They account for 3% of carbon sequestered by the world’s tropical forests.

Mangroves are the economic foundations of many tropical coastal regions. To sustain the blue economy, it is imperative to ensure the sustainability of coastal habitats, particularly mangroves for tropical nations, at the local, regional, and international levels.

With notable adaptive features, mangroves are natural armed forces of tropical and subtropical nations. They are the best option to fight against climate change consequences like sea levels rise and increasing frequency of natural calamities like cyclones and storm surges.

Led by the Hon’ble PM, India has committed in its NDC to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

India sees the tremendous potential mangroves have for mitigation of growing GHG concentration in the atmosphere. Studies have shown that mangrove forests can absorb four to five times more carbon than tropical forests.

Creating new carbon sink from mangrove afforestation and reducing emissions from mangrove deforestation are two feasible ways for countries to meet their NDC targets and achieve carbon neutrality.

India is committed to conservation and restoration of natural ecosystems; and has strong commitments towards conservation and management of mangroves.

One of the largest remaining areas of mangroves in the world, the Sundarbans supports an exceptional level of biodiversity in both the terrestrial and marine environments, including significant populations of a range of flora and plant species; species of wildlife wide range of fauna, including the Bengal Tiger and other threatened species such as the estuarine crocodile and the Indian python. There is a significant increase observed in mangrove cover in India in its Andamansregion, Sundarbans region, and in the Gujarat region.

India has demonstrated expertise in mangrove restoration activities for nearly five decades and restored different types of mangrove ecosystems both on its east and west coasts.

India welcomes the formation of the Global Mangrove Mission for the conservation of mangroves with cross boundary cooperation to meet the intentional climate goals. India believes that the integration of mangroves into the national REDD+, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation programs, is the need of the hour.

As a responsible global partner, India is ready to contribute to the global knowledge base due to its extensive experience in mangrove restoration, studies on ecosystem valuation and carbon sequestration and also benefit from associating with other nations regarding cutting-edge solutions and generating appropriate financial instruments for mangrove conservation and restoration.

We look forward to greater cooperation between countries in knowledge sharing and technological exchange to not just save our mangroves, but also see their expansion.

Even as COP27 continues, I will be back in the country tomorrow morning (November 9) even as officials back in Egypt take forward the work started. I will return on November 13 to resume ministerial negotiations and related work.