India makes plea at COP15 to boost nature funding

India’s Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav has expressed hope that the undergoing UN biodiversity summit, referred to as COP15, will reach a consensus on putting in place the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Speaking at the plenary in Montreal that was dumped several centimetres of snow, Yadav said reversing ecosystem degradation and halting global biodiversity loss are essential for the socioeconomic development and wellbeing of people, and for advancing global sustainability.

“India, under the leadership of Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working towards restoring and conserving its rich biodiversity, which includes one of the world’s richest mix of flora and fauna,” Yadav wrote in a blog on Saturday.

“India is also working closely with other countries for knowledge sharing and technology exchange for biodiversity conservation.”

Speaking at the plenary, which brought together nearly 200 signatory countries with the aim of setting a global roadmap for the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity and natural ecosystems for the next decade, the Union minister underlined India’s position that while the goals and targets set in the Global Biodiversity Framework should be ambitious, they should also be realistic and practical.

Conservation of biodiversity must also be based on common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities as the climate change also has an impact on biodiversity.

“I reiterated that for the developing nations, agriculture is a paramount economic driver for rural communities, and the critical support provided to these sectors cannot be redirected. Majority of the rural population in India is dependent on agriculture and allied sectors and Honourable PM Modi ji’s government provides a variety of subsidies, including seed, fertiliser, irrigation, power, export, credit, agriculture equipment, agriculture infrastructure for supporting the livelihoods of farmers mainly, small and marginal.

“Hence, India does not agree to reducing the agriculture related subsidy and redirecting the savings for biodiversity conservation, as there are many other national priorities,” he wrote.

“When food security is of utmost importance for developing countries, prescribing numerical targets in pesticide reductions is unnecessary and must be left to countries to decide, based on national circumstances, priorities and capabilities.

“Biodiversity conservation requires ecosystems to be conserved and restored holistically and in an integrated manner. It is in this context that ecosystem approaches for conservation of biodiversity need to be adopted rather than going for nature-based solutions.

“The developing countries bear most of the burden of implementing the agreement, but the benefits are global. Similarly, the availability of new technologies and biodiversity data is still uneven. Most of the mega diverse countries that harbour global biodiversity need adequate funds, coupled with technology transfer.”

Yadav stated that against this background, the most important challenge is the resources needed for implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework.

Greater ambition means greater cost and the burden of this cost fall disproportionately on the countries that can least afford them.

For the successful implementation of the framework, he said it will squarely depend on the ways and means “we put in place for an equally ambitious resource mobilisation mechanism”.

“There is a need to create a new and dedicated mechanism for the provision of financial resources to developing-country parties,” he said.

Favouring the need for operationalising such a fund at the earliest, he said this would ensure effective implementation of the post Global Biodiversity Framework by all countries.

“I once again said that India is fully committed to working closely with all parties so that we are all able to bring out an ambitious and realistic Global Biodiversity Framework in COP15,” he wrote.

The 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international meeting bringing together governments from around the world.

Participants will set out new goals and develop an action plan for nature over the next decade. The government of Canada’s priority is to ensure the COP15 is a success for nature.

During the stocktaking plenary on Saturday, all groups were more or less in agreement with $200 billion annually by 2030, and that this would include funding from all sources, international, domestic, public and private.

Regarding the international flows to developing countries, negotiators got a good indication that an increase is needed and should be materialised. But there is still a wide range of views on the question of the architecture on biodiversity finance. Some parties would favour the establishment of a stand-alone fund outside the existing funding structure. Others would like to improve the existing funding mechanisms and are not in favour to establish anything new.

In several meetings, groups discussed that there might be a compromise middle ground in establishing a dedicated fund on global biodiversity that is linked to and administered by the Global Environment Facility.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

20221218-060203

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