What is Biodiversity
1. Biological diversity, or biodiversity, encompasses the variety of all life on earth. Biodiversity manifests itself at three levels: species diversity which refers to the numbers and kinds of living organisms; genetic diversity which refers to the genetic variation within a population of species; and ecosystem diversity which is the variety of habitats, biological communities and ecological processes that occur in the biosphere. The biodiversity we see today is the outcome of over 3.5 billion years of evolutionary history, shaped by natural processes and increasingly, by the influence of humans. Biodiversity forms the web of life of which we are an integral part and upon which we so fully depend. Biological diversity is the natural biotic capital of the earth, and affects us all. Humanity derives its supplies of food, medicines, energy and many industrial products from biological resources
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
2. Extinction of species and gradual changes in ecological communities, is a natural phenomena. However, the pace of extinction has increased dramatically as a result of human activities. Ecosystems are being fragmented or eliminated, and several species are in decline. The fragmentation, degradation, and loss of habitats pose serious threat to biological diversity. These losses are irreversible and pose a threat to our own well being, considering our dependence on food crop and medicines and other biological resources.
3. Global concern about loss of species and ecosystems found expression in the International Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD, one of the key agreements adopted during the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, is the first comprehensive global agreement which addresses all aspects relating to biodiversity. The CBD, which has near universal membership 193 countries as its Parties, sets out commitments for maintaining the world’s ecological underpinnings, while pursuing economic development. India is a Party to the CBD. The Convention, while reaffirming sovereign rights of nations over their biological resources, establishes three main goals: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.
4. A Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS) was adopted in 2010 after six years of intense negotiations under the aegis of CBD to further develop the ABS framework provided by the Convention. India has made significant positive contributions in these negotiations. The objective of this Protocol is the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. The Protocol has entered into force on 12th October 2014. India signed the Protocol on 11th May 2011, and ratified it on 9th October, 2012.
5. Details about the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol on ABS may be viewed at: www.cbd.int
National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) and National Reports to the CBD
6. Article 6 of CBD enjoins upon all Parties to prepare national strategies, plans or programmes for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and to integrate conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity into relevant sectoral and cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies.
7. Pursuant to ratification of CBD, following an extensive consultative process with various stakeholders, a National Policy and Macrolevel Action Strategy on Biodiversity was developed, and approved by Committee of Secretaries in 1999, which was submitted to the CBD Secretariat. Thereafter, the Ministry of Environment and Forests implemented an externally-aided project on National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) from 2000-2004. Following approval of the National Environment Policy by the Cabinet in 2006, preparation of National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) was taken up, by revising and updating the National Policy and Macrolevel Action Strategy on Biodiversity developed in 1999, and by using the final technical report of the NBSAP project, so that the NBAP is in consonance with the National Environment Policy. The revised NBAP incorporating the comments received was approved by the Cabinet on 6th November 2008. The two generations of India’s NBSAP documents are available on CBD’s website.
8. CoP-10 to the CBD in October 2010 had adopted a Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for 2011-2020, with five goals and 20 Aichi Targets, as an ambitious plan developed with the purpose of inspiring broad-based action in support of biodiversity over the decade by all countries and stakeholders. The Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets are the overarching framework on biodiversity not only for CBD and biodiversity related conventions, but for the entire UN system. The UN General Assembly vide a resolution has declared 2011-2020 as the UN Decade on Biodiversity, coinciding with the duration of the Strategic Plan.
9. Parties have committed themselves to establishing their own national targets using Strategic Plan and its Aichi Targets as a flexible framework, and to update or revise, as appropriate, their NBSAPs in line with the Strategic Plan by incorporating the national targets. Considering that many of the Aichi Targets relate to the work of other Ministries/Departments, setting of national targets in line with Aichi Targets calls for substantial cross-sectoral coordination.
10. Accordingly, India through an extensive consultative process, has developed 12 national biodiversity targets along with indicators for monitoring, using Aichi targets as a framework, and brought out a National Biodiversity Action Plan Addendum 2014 to NBAP 2008.
11. Five cycles of national reporting for CBD have been completed, and India’s first, second, third, fourth and fifth national reports are available on CBD’s website.
12. India’s Fifth National Report to the CBD 2014 provides an update on biodiversity status, trends and threats, updating of NBAP, and India’s progress towards Aichi targets.
Hosting of Eleventh Conference of Parties (CoP-11) to the CBD and CoP Presidency
13. India successfully hosted the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held from 8-19 October 2012, in Hyderabad, India, following the sixth Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP 6). The event provided India with an opportunity to consolidate, scale-up and showcase our strengths on biodiversity. The meetings were presided over by the Minister for Environment and Forests, India as the President of CoP-11. The High Level Segment was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India. The Prime Minister at CoP-11 launched the ‘Hyderabad Pledge’, wherein he announced that the Government of India has decided to earmark a sum of US $ 50 million during India’s Presidency of CoP to strengthen institutional mechanism, enhance the technical and human capabilities for biodiversity conservation in India, and to promote similar capacity building in other developing countries.
14. CoP-11 was the largest ever such conference organized in India. Thousands of delegates representing 175 countries, other governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental, non-governmental, indigenous and local community organizations, academia and the private sector participated in CoP-11. CBD CoP-11 adopted 33 decisions on a range of strategic, substantive, administrative, financial and budgetary issues. The decisions of CoP-11 are available on CBD’s website.
15. Hosting of CoP/MoP-6 and CoP-11 by India is an important milestone, and has been hailed as one of the biggest politico-scientific events in the world. India played an active role in content development and outcome of the conference.
16. With the successful hosting of CoP-11, in her two-year Presidency till CoP-12 in October, 2014, India guided and steered the implementation of the decisions of CoP-11, and also supporting capacity building initiatives for other developing countries, in addition to strengthening the ongoing efforts for biodiversity conservation at the national level.
17. India has taken up a number of biodiversity related activities, some of them quite unique and innovative, during her Presidency. These inter alia include:
- Positioning of Science Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS) train as the brand Ambassador of CoP-11 for creating large-scale awareness on biodiversity issues, and following its resounding success, the second, and third phases of SEBS launched in 2013 and 2014.
- Setting up of a biodiversity garden and a proposed National Biodiversity Museum on the site where the Prime Minister had unveiled a commemorative Pylon in Hyderabad.
- Adopting the logo and slogan of CoP-11 as the new logo and slogan of this Ministry.
18. India handed over the Presidency of CoP to the Republic of Korea at CoP-12 held in Pyeongchang in October 2014.
The hosting of CoP-11, including the genesis, background, preparation and the event itself, has been documented in the form of a booklet on ‘Hosting of CoP-11 by India: A Pictorial Presentation’. Another document, ‘A Panoramic View of India’s Presidency of CoP to CBD 2012-2014’, giving information on the important activities undertaken during India’s Presidency of CoP, has also been brought out.