To push the developed world into putting more funds for biodiversity conservation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday committed $50 million (Rs 250 crore) to strengthen institutional mechanism for biodiversity in India and other developing nations.
"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…," he said, while inaugurating the high-level segment at a United Nations conference on Biodiversity.
Asking the global community to work together to prevent ecological " catastrophe", he said, India was willing to join hands with all countries to reach a "happy compromise" that will secure a future which provides ecological and economic space for sustainable growth.
On the domestic front, the PM promised more inclusive conservation and protection of livelihoods of fisherfolk on the lines of Forest Rights Act, which aims to protect the rights of tribal communities and other forest dwellers. He also pointed out how having a digital database of the traditional knowledge has helped in checking bio-piracy and how India was sharing the benefits with locals under the National Biodiversity Act.
Though they welcomed the Hyderabad pledge, activists termed Singh's speech as being far from the truth. "Listening to his assertions regarding India's commitment to conservation and livelihoods, one would think the country is in the right hands. Nothing can be farther from the truth," said Ashish Kothari, founder of NGO Kalpvariksh, accusing the government of displacing people for economic development and failing to implement the Forest Rights Act.
He urged countries to make concerted effort to save biodiversity as India had done by ratifying the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing and pointed out that the 2010 Aichi biodiversity targets under the convention were not fully met.
"This situation needs to change," he said, adding that the critical issue really was to mobilise the resources.
But, the talks on resource mobilisation are stuck because countries such as Canada and Mexico refuse to budge from their positions. Canada does not want to commit any money till a "realistic" assessment of biodiversity loss is done, while Mexico wants some commitment before any assessment study is done.