International Biodiversity Day
WHEN we talk of Biological Diversity also known as Biodiversity it is the sum of all life on earth. From ordinary Bacteria, small algae or fungus found on earth to the massive blue whale found in oceans or the massive forests of Amazon, they all are constituents of our earth’s biodiversity. The rich biodiversity is often found in two types of places: protected forest areas and those areas which are inhabited by Indigenous People who have least contact with the outside world.
The biodiversity of earth is a valuable resource. This is the primary source of our biosphere. It is the only earth which has such a systemic life web which has food, water and air available. Now one can understand how important it is to protect and preserve this biodiversity. India being party to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity signed at Rio de Janeiro on the 5th day of June, 1992 enacted Biodiversity Act in 2002. Even after two decades of enactment of this law in India, the authorities at helm are not serious about enforcing the provisions of this law on ground. In Jammu & Kashmir, there are Biodiversity Committees constituted at village level which have a lot of work to do but unfortunately these committees are not supported at all. The biodiversity rich villages located near our forests are yet to create Peoples Biodiversity Register (PBR) which is mandatory.
From Agreement to Action
With an aim of making nations sensitive towards protection of biodiversity the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted during the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 15) following a four-year consultation and negotiation process. This meeting was held in two phases between 7th to 19th December 2022 at Kunming, China and Montreal, Canada respectively. This historic Framework supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals-SDGs and builds on the Convention’s previous Strategic Plans, sets out an ambitious pathway to reach the global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050. Among the Framework’s key elements are 4 goals for 2050 and 23 targets for 2030. How much are nations working to meet these given goals and targets?
When we talk about targets set for the next 7 years, are our government agencies serious about these?
This year’s Biodiversity Day has a lovely theme “From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity”. Governments hold conventions and conferences on environment, biodiversity and climate change, but very little action is taken on ground.
Even after more than 20 years of enactment of the Biodiversity Act in India, I don’t see even 10 to 20 of the provisions of this law are implemented on ground. How many workshops , conferences and meetings were held by various Biodiversity Committees in J&K in the last 5 years? How many People’s Biodiversity Registers-PBR’s have been prepared at the village level? How much information has been collected from local hakeems, vaids about the medicinal value of different herbs? How many PBRs have been digitized?
Important GBF Targets
The implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework-GBF will be guided and supported through a comprehensive package of decisions also adopted at COP 15. This package includes a monitoring framework for the GBF, an enhanced mechanism for planning, monitoring, reporting and reviewing implementation, the necessary financial resources for implementation, strategic frameworks for capacity development and technical and scientific cooperation, as well as an agreement on digital sequence information on genetic resources.
In adopting the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, all Parties committed to setting national targets to implement it, while all other actors have been invited to develop and communicate their own commitments. At the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2024 in Turkey, the nations will take stock of the targets and commitments that have been set.
The GBF includes 4 goals and 23 targets for achievement by 2050 and 2030 respectively. The GBF goals to protect nature are
i) Halting human-induced extinction of threatened species & reducing the rate of extinction of all species tenfold.
ii) Sustainable use and management of biodiversity to ensure that nature’s contributions to people are valued, maintained and enhanced
iii) Fair sharing of the benefits from the utilization of genetic resources, and digital sequence information on genetic resources.
iv) Adequate means of implementing the GBF be accessible to all Parties, particularly the underdeveloped nations and small island developing states.
The first part of COP 15 took place in Kunming, China and reinforced the commitment to address the biodiversity crisis and the Kunming Declaration was adopted by over 100 countries. The important targets of GBF to be achieved by 2030 are :
i) Restore 30% degraded ecosystems globally (on land and sea) by 2030 & to conserve and manage 30% areas (terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine) by 2030
ii) Stop the extinction of known species, and by 2050 reduce tenfold the extinction risk and rate of all species (including unknown)
iii) Reduce risk from pesticides by at least 50% by 2030 and nutrients lost to the environment by at least 50% by 2030
iv) Reduce pollution risks and negative impacts of pollution from all sources by 2030 to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions
v) Reduce global footprint of consumption by 2030, including through significantly reducing overconsumption and waste generation and halving food waste
vi) Sustainably manage areas under agriculture, aquaculture fisheries, and forestry and substantially increase agroecology and other biodiversity-friendly practices.
vii) Tackle climate change through nature-based solutions and the rate of introduction and establishment of invasive alien species by at least 50% by 2030 & secure the safe, legal and sustainable use and trade of wild species by 2030
viii) Creating Green urban spaces
Like other nations, states and regions, Jammu & Kashmir is also facing huge challenges as far as biodiversity is concerned. Our rivers and streams which were treasures of biological diversity are being plundered by heavy duty cranes and excavators to extract riverbed materials like sand, gravel and boulders. This is not only destroying our river landscape but is also destroying our biodiversity overall.
The GBF says that by 2030 nations have to reduce 50% risks from pesticide pollution but in J&K the use of pesticides is increasing day by day. After COP 15, no steps have been taken to reduce the use of pesticides in J&K. Similarly, our river ecosystems have been destroyed due to excessive riverbed mining and they are to be restored back. In-fact National Green Tribunal (NGT) has penalized the Govt institutions for this after I moved a petition around 2 years back but inspite of that the Geology & Mining Department is not acting on the ground. We also need urgent restoration of our Karewas which are being plundered due to excessive clay mining.
Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
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