Conservation Biological Diversity
IPBES-A Move in That Direction
v As the international community including India grea up to ‘celebrate’ International Day of Biological Diversity which of 22nd May; we discuss the proactive steps taken by ‘us’ in making this. After years of negotiations, recently in the Panama City, Governments from than 90 countries have agreed to establish the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an independent panel of scientists to assess the very latest research on the state of the planet’s fragile ecosystems. The new I PITS will be akin to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
v The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) will be responsible for producing international scientific assessments on issues such as ocean acidification and pollination, to help policy-makers to tackle the global loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems.
v The themes of the panel’s assessments, along with its overall budget, are to be decided at the newly established body’s first plenary meeting, which is scheduled for 2013. But the IPBES will begin work immediately on reviewing existing assessments — such as 2005’s global Millennium Ecosystem Assessment — to analyse their scope and impact on policy. Germany won the vote by defeating India and South Korea to host the IPBES secretariat, which will be headquartered in Bonn.
v The Platform will assist countries and the international community in identifying the policies and actions needed to implement the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011- 2020 and achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets adopted by the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan. Now the question which immediately comes to mind is what is biodiversity? And why its conservation is so important?
v Biodiversity, according to Convention of Biological Diversity (1992) biodiversity, is the variability among living organisms from all sources including inter alia terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and complexes of which they are a part. Biodiversity is often a measure of the health of biological systems to indicate the degree to which the aggregate of historical species are viable versus extinct.
v Hence, the conservation of biodiversity becomes impertinent. But, the biodiversity is under severe threat world over. This makes May 22 as the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) an annual celebration than a mere tokenism. Every year UN designates a theme for the day. This year’s theme for the International Day for Biological Diversity is ‘Marine Biodiversity’. Des- ignation of IDB 2012 on the theme of marine ecosystems provides Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and everyone interested in marine life, the opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and increase practical action.
v India’s Effort to Conserve Biodiversity: India is one of the first few countries in the world to enact a national legislation, called the Biological Diversity Act in 2002, which contains provisions for access and benefit sharing. A National Biodiversity Authority was set up at Chennai in M03. For India the year 2012 is an important year in the context of conservation of biodiversity. India will host the eleventh Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in October 2012. Called ‘Rio + 20’ CBD Conference, the COP, to be held in New Delhi, will also commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit, held in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. India will also host 3rd International conference of Urban Biodiversity and Design (URBIO 2012) in iviumbai from Sth to 12th October 2012.
- The country is considered to be the homeland of 167 important plant species, 114 breeds of domesticated animals and about 4,900 species of flowering plants are endemic to the country. These are distributed among 141 genera belonging to 47 families. These are concentrated in the floristically rich areas of North-East India, the Western Ghats, North-West Himalayas and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- We need to address the million dollar question – if India is a megabiodiverse country bestowed with great natural capital, why are we not considering translating the’natural capital into actual value? A few possible approaches in this regard are: Payments and markets should be made to work for conservation and the poor. The misunderstanding that payments for ecosystems are akin to privatising the natural resources should be dispelled. One of the challenges will be to mainstream the costs and benefits of ecosystem services into local and regional development plans. Sectoral policies that consider local markets as key to scaling up regional markets should be designed.
ECONOMIC VALUE OF BIODIVERSITY
- Biological diversity contributes to billions of dollars to national economy for all countries around the world, According to the Secretariat of Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), the estimated economic potential of biodiversity in the pharmaceutical sector is about $640 billion of which 25-50 per cent is derived directly from biological resources, globally. Herbal supplements, personal care products and food products collectively have a market size of $65 billion representing the largest ‘nature’ based market. The economic potential of coral reefs, on an average, at any given site include the following — an estimated $189,000/hectare/year in reducing natural disasters, tourism up to $ 1 million/hectare/year, genetic material and prospecting up to $57,000/hectare/year, fisheries up to $3,818/hectare/year, If India has on an average 2,330 hectares of coral reefs, then it is generating Rs 14,27,12,50,000 of revenue per year from this simple but critical ecosystem as of now. The contributory figures can go up many-fold if India invest in the proper maintenance of this ecosystem.
- Ecosystems, their goods and services and biodiversity are often systematically under-valued. Lack of methods to value public goods and/or understanding of how to protect such goods, often pose serious challenges to policy makers. One way to overcome this challenge is to develop appropriate national policies to not only value public goods, especially ecosystems and biodiversity, but internalise these into economic and development policy making.