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Down To Earth Magazine June, 2022 (Part 2): How To Avert Biodiversity Extinction?

 

Down To Earth is a fortnightly magazine focusing on politics of environment and development, published in New Delhi, India.

UPSC Previous years’ questions on Development, Environment, Health and Disaster Management give us a clear idea about the increased importance of DTE magazine.

DTE Magazine is one of the most important and indispensable source for UPSC Civil Services Exam Preparation. Keeping this in mind, here, we come with ”Gist Of Down To Earth Magazine” which covers important environmental current affairs articles in smooth pointed form, keeping in mind the demand of UPSC aspirants.

 

How To Avert Biodiversity Extinction?: Introduction

  • The world in 1992 came together to agree on the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • It was also clear that the conservation of bioresources, particularly its utilisation, required active involvement of local communities; they needed to receive a share of the profits earned from the use of their resources and knowledge.
  • This is the reason the world in 2010 agreed on an instrument, called Nagoya Protocol, for fair and equitable sharing of benefits with communities.
  • But in 2022—30 years since the convention—the global community is still working to update the framework and to recommit for the conservation of flora and fauna.
  • We still do not understand what needs to be done to avert biodiversity extinction and benefit those who conserve it.

 

How To Avert Biodiversity Extinction?: What happened in Nairobi?

  • The six-day meeting of the open-ended working group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework failed to achieve as much as was expected.
  • The objective of the meeting was to reach a consensus on the text of the framework, which is to be finalised at the 15th Conference of the Parties (CoP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in December.

 

How To Avert Biodiversity Extinction?: The Indian Story

  • India has an exemplary record in putting together the legal and administrative framework for biodiversity conservation and to share the benefits of knowledge with communities.
  • In 2002, the country adopted the Biological Diversity Act and put in place an elaborate framework to protect bioresources and to share benefits with traditional knowledge-holders: the National Biodiversity Authority has been established; each state has its own biodiversity board; and each village has its biodiversity management committee (BMC). These BMCs are required to prepare people’s biodiversity register and has the powers to impose charges and fines for extraction of resources found in their village.
  • But on the ground level, the entire effort to share benefits with communities has been reduced to, at best, a meaningless bureaucratic exercise.
  • We know that the system of access and benefit-sharing can work only if the knowledge-holders are recognised; if the traders and manufacturing companies that use their knowledge are held liable for payments, and this payment is then transferred to the community or the knowledge-holders.
  • But we find that no data is available with states—other than a few—on the money received from companies and traders for access and benefit-sharing.
  • So, it is not clear if all companies have paid for the use of resources or knowledge, on what basis, and how much.
  • The reason is there is no information available about the knowledge-holders. The law provides that if the information is not available, then funds should be spent on conservation in the region where the knowledge-Bioresources come from.

 

How To Avert Biodiversity Extinction?: The Case Of Kani Tribals

  • In the famous case of the Kani tribals and their knowledge of Arogyapacha, a medicinal plant, this was the fatal flaw.
  • When their knowledge was used to develop a pharmaceutical product, it was agreed that the sales revenue would be shared with the tribals.
  • But then the question was how the plant could be collected—it was found in the wild and on lands under the forest department.
  • The Kani tribals were denied permission to collect or even grow the plant, saying it was endangered.
  • Cases were filed against the tribals for collection and cultivation.
  • So, the entire work to use the traditional knowledge to benefit communities and, through this, build a conservation movement was futile.
  • Today, restrictions on the tribals to go into the forests have increased. This means their younger generations can no longer identify the plant. The uncoded knowledge is being lost. In this way biodiversity will be lost.

 

How To Avert Biodiversity Extinction?: The Convention on Biological Diversity

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993.
  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international legally-binding treaty with three main goals: conservation of biodiversity; sustainable use of biodiversity; and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. Its overall objective is to encourage actions which will lead to a sustainable future.
  • The governing body of the CBD is the Conference of the Parties (COP). This ultimate authority of all governments (or Parties) that have ratified the treaty meets every two years to review progress, set priorities and commit to work plans.
    In 2010, Parties to the CBD adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020, a ten-year framework for action by all countries and stakeholders to safeguard biodiversity and the benefits it provides to people
  • To date, there are 193 Parties n Components of biodiversity are all the various forms of life on Earth including ecosystems, animals, plants, fungi, microorganisms, and genetic diversity.
  • With its three objectives, the CBD is often seen as the key international instrument for sustainable development.

 

How To Avert Biodiversity Extinction?: The Biodiversity Act, 2002

  • The Biodiversity Act, 2002 was brought with an aim to conserve India’s biological diversity and ensure sustainable use of biological resources.
  • The Act also ensures the benefits accrued from the use of traditional and genetic resources are shared with the local communities with prior and informed consent-approval of local communities in a fair and equitable manner.
  • The Act was an outcome of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992 that India adopted and ratified. Later, India also notified Access and Benefit Sharing Regulations, 2014 to give effect to the Nagoya protocol, 2010 that India became a party to in the year 2014.
  • The Biodiversity Act, 2002 was brought with a three-tier decentralised system, involving the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), State Biodiversity Boards (SBB) and the Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) at the local level.

 

How To Avert Biodiversity Extinction?: The Biodiversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • The amended Bill was drafted in response to complaints by traditional Indian medicine practitioners, the seed sector, and industry and researchers that the Act imposed a heavy “compliance burden” and made it hard to conduct collaborative research and investments and simplify patent application processes.
  • It proposes to “widen the scope of levying access and benefit-sharing with local communities and for further conservation of biological resources.”
  • The Bill seeks to exempt registered AYUSH medical practitioners and people accessing codified traditional knowledge, among others, from giving prior intimation to State biodiversity boards for accessing biological resources for certain purposes.

 

Conclusion

As the world meets to discuss the next decade of biodiversity conservation, lessons from the past will be critical. Not only do we need to protect bioresources in the wild—in protected areas—but also a vibrant system to capture local and indigenous knowledge and to ensure that people benefit from conservation as well as utilisation of resources. For this, we need voices and experiences from the ground so that policy is smart and informed. Otherwise, policies will be only on paper.

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