India to focus on ‘harmony with nature’ at COP15 | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India to focus on ‘harmony with nature’ at COP15

ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi
Dec 05, 2022 11:35 PM IST

India wants “living in harmony with nature” to be the overriding theme of the framework expected to be finalised at the United Nations summit on biodiversity to be held in Montreal in Canada between December 7 and 19 to halt the alarming extinction of species due to human activities, officials said on Monday.

India wants “living in harmony with nature” to be the overriding theme of the framework expected to be finalised at the United Nations summit on biodiversity to be held in Montreal in Canada between December 7 and 19 to halt the alarming extinction of species due to human activities, officials said on Monday.

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The 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), a meeting of 195 nations, is expected to devise a roadmap to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, which would then be reflected in national biodiversity strategies.

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COP15 is being dubbed as the “Paris moment for nature” by experts, a reference to the landmark 2015 Paris climate pact where all countries in the world unanimously agreed to limit global temperature rise within 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels and make efforts to keep it within 1.5 degrees.

India’s vision of “living in harmony with nature” promotes restoration and the wise use of biodiversity, which can conserve as well as deliver benefits to the people.

“India has participated and engaged in four meetings of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework held so far, and is also participating in its fifth meeting of the OEWG ongoing from December 3 to 5, 2022, in order to reach a consensus on the Framework,” a senior official of the environment ministry said, seeking anonymity.

“India is of the view that the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) should help address the current biodiversity related challenges and promote the three CBD objectives in an integrated manner,” he added.

The CBD seeks to conserve biological diversity, promote sustainable use of its components, and ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

Some of the contentious issues to be negotiated for the framework are the target to protect 30% of land and sea area by 2030; review and monitoring of implementation of targets under the framework; and how funding would be mobilised for developing nations to achieve these targets.

The summit was to be held in Kunming in China in 2020, but was deferred due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The first phase of COP15 was held in Kunming in 2021 and was then moved to Montreal for the final leg.

Environment minister Bhupender Yadav will lead India’s delegation at COP15 in the second week of negotiations. India will focus mainly on capturing the three main goals of the CBD in an integrated manner and reflect national circumstances and capabilities in achieving the targets, officials said.

The biodiversity framework should capture “the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature and should come as a strong framework of action and accountability for halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030,” said the official cited earlier. This should be reflected in the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) based on the national circumstances, priorities and capabilities, he added.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the world largest collective of ecologists, said in its 2019 global assessment report that 75% of the land surface of earth is significantly altered, 66% of the ocean area is experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, and over 85% of wetlands has been lost.

While the rate of forest loss has slowed globally since 2000, it is distributed unequally, the assessment found. Across much of the highly biodiverse tropics, 32 million hectares of primary or recovering forest were lost between 2010 and 2015, it said. An average of around 25% of species in assessed animal and plant groups are threatened, suggesting that around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss.

The Montreal Framework is expected to be built around the findings of IPBES.

In October, the Living Planet Report 2022 flagged that in just over 50 years, there has been a 69% drop on average in the wildlife population globally, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish. The biennial report published by World Wide Fund for Nature revealed that there has been a 55% loss in wildlife in Asia and the Pacific, but Latin America and the Caribbean is the worst impacted with a 94% loss since 1970. Freshwater species have recorded the highest overall global decline during the period at 83%.

“Clearly, the world is crying out for change, watching as governments seek to heal our relationships with nature, with the climate,” Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the CBD, said at a media briefing last month.

"In recent years both the CBD and the India’s enforcement of the biological diversity act (BDA) has come to primarily focus on regulating access to biological resources and associated knowledge. It has been an uphill task for several state and village level bodies to operationalise benefit sharing arising out of that research, intellectual property of commercial use. As COP15 approaches, we need to look back at the moment when the CBD was carved out as one of the conventions of the Rio conference which was pushing for the idea of sustainability along side economic growth. It would be useful for India to address this core concern, through a popular discourse on the biodiversity act, especially when several private and government actors are seeking an opt out of the regulatory requirements as is the case with the proposed amendments to the BDA,” said Kanchi Kohli, legal researcher at Centre for Policy Research.

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