Friday, September 28, 2012

India to Host COP – 11
PM to Address the Conference on 16 October 2012
India is hosting the eleventh Conference of the Parties (CoP-11) to the CBD in Hyderabad on 1-19 October, 2012. There will be three components of CoP-11: the sixth Conference of the Parties serving as Meeting of the Parties (CoP/MoP-6) to the CBD’s Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to be held from 1-5 October 2012; the CoP-11 to the CBD from 8-19 October 2012; and the High Level Segment of CoP-11 from 16-19 October 2012. These meetings will be held at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC). CoP-11 is expected to be the largest such conference to be held in the country, with participation of thousands of delegates from all countries of the world, including Ministers/Vice-Ministers, Ambassadors, senior Government officials, heads and senior officers of UN and multilateral agencies, private sector, academia, civil society organizations etc.

India is a recognised megadiverse country rich in biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge. With just 2.4% of the land area, India accounts for nearly 7% of the recorded species even while supporting almost 18% of human population as well as cattle population. The biotic pressure on our biodiversity is therefore immense.

For India, conservation of its biodiversity is crucial not only because it provides several goods and services necessary for human survival, but also because it is directly linked with providing livelihoods to and improving socio-economic conditions of millions of our local people, thereby contributing to sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

India is a Party to the CBD. The three objectives of the Convention are: conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. CBD is the first comprehensive global agreement addressing all aspects relating to biodiversity. It is a framework agreement that provides for flexible country-driven approach to its implementation. The Convention has near universal membership with 193 Parties. USA is the only major country which is not a Party to the CBD.

Two Protocols have so far been adopted under the aegis of CBD: the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) adopted in 2000, and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing adopted in 2010.

Despite intense biotic pressure, India has been able to harbour 7-8% of the world’s biodiversity. While most developing countries have lost forest cover, India has added around 3 million hectares of forests and tree cover in the last three decades. With a strong legal and policy framework on biodiversity, some recent positive initiatives relevant to biodiversity taken up include: Forests Rights Act, MG NREGA. Globally, India is recognized as a pioneer and trendsetter on biodiversity issues, and is a major player. On biodiversity, India speaks from a position of strength. Advancing biodiversity agenda contributes to equity as well as development agenda. This cannot the said of any other environmental issue under discussion in international fora.

Hosting of CoP-11 in India is a culmination of the biodiversity agenda being pursued by India during last few years. The event provides India with an opportunity to consolidate, scale-up and showcase our initiatives and strengths on biodiversity. India with a strong institutional, legal and policy framework, has the potential and capability to emerge as the world leader in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and also to set the global agenda on biodiversity in the context of sustainable livelihoods during the UN Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020.

Hosting of CoP-11 would also bring in focus the need for balancing economic development, demographic pressures and environmental conservation in developing countries like India, and the need to spread awareness for better use and management of biological resources among different stakeholders. CoP-11 would provide a unique platform to display, promote, interact, learn and network from each other experiences and knowledge relating to biodiversity.

At the opening of CoP-11, the Presidency of CoP will be handed over by Japan (as the host of CoP-10) to the Indian Minister for Environment and Forests. India will be the President of CoP-11 for a two year period ending at the opening of the next CoP.

CoP-10 held in Nagoya in October 2010 had adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 alongwith twenty Aichi biodiversity targets. These inter alia include: By 2020 atleast 17% of terrestrial and inland water (from the present 13%), and 10% of coastal and marine areas (from the present 1.6%) are conserved; By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is atleast halved; By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably. While adopting the ambitious Strategic Plan, CoP-10 could not agree on the targets for funding as the means to implement Strategic Plan and achieve Aichi targets.

CoP-11 is expected to come out with a road map for operationalisation of the Strategic Plan and Aichi targets; facilitation of early entry into force of Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing; and determine targets for mobilizing resources for implementing the Strategic Plan.

On resource mobilization, presently, the international flows for biodiversity directly and indirectly are approximately USD 6 billion, which is about 4.7% of the global ODA of USD 127 billion. To enable CoP-11 to agree on targets for resource mobilization for implementation of the Strategic Plan, an assessment of the requirement of funding to meet the Aichi targets at the global level is necessary. Towards this, a number of activities have been undertaken in the intersessional period.

India with Sweden, Ecuador and others co-sponsored a Dialogue seminar on finance in Quito in March 2012, the outcomes of which resulted in an improved understanding between the developed and developing countries. Thereafter, India alongwith UK have sponsored a High Level Panel for assessing the resources required globally to implement the Strategic Plan. An interim report of this Panel will be presented to CoP-11. The Panel has estimated that the costs for implementing the Aichi targets is between USD 150 billion to 430 billion annually, though coordinated action on the targets is expected to substantially reduce the total estimate. Parallely, a team of five experts commissioned by the CBD Secretariat have undertaken an assessment of the amount of funds that are necessary to assist developing countries in achieving Aichi targets, over the period 2014-2018. As per this assessment, the total funding needs for developing countries for the period 2014-2018 works out to be between USD 74 billion and 191 billion.

The outcome of these intersessional activities will be considered by CoP-11, for facilitating a decision on some interim commitments on resource mobilization, alongwith a road map that would include review by CoP-12 when more information is expected to become available.

India has also hosted and supported a number of workshops and meetings for capacity building on Protected Areas, national biodiversity strategies and biosafety. These efforts made by India have been well appreciated by the global community.

The CoP-MoP-6 will discuss and adopt further decisions for safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology. The discussions will inter alia focus on risk assessment and management of LMOs, socio-economic considerations, capacity building, information sharing, cooperation among countries, and resource mobilization to assist developing countries in meeting their global commitments towards safe use of LMOs.

The outcomes of CoP-MoP-6 and CoP-11 are in the form of decisions agreed to by consensus among all Parties to the CBD, which are binding on the Parties.

The High Level Segment will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in the afternoon of 16 October 2012. Several Ministers, Vice-Ministers and Ambassadors are likely to attend the High level Segment. There will be four Panel discussions on the following topics during the High Level Segment:

Panel I: Implementation of the Strategic Plan on Biodiversity 2011-2020
Panel II: Biodiversity for Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction
Panel III: Coastal and Marine Biodiversity
Panel IV: Implementation of Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing.

The outcome of High Level Segment will be in the form of Chair’s summary statement by the Minister for Environment and Forests. 

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