UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY (UNCBD)

UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY (UNCBD)


Basics and Backgrounds

  • The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) is a United Nations treaty that is responsible for the conservation of Biological Diversity around the world.
  • The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, informally known as the Biodiversity Convention is a multilateral treaty opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro in 1992. It is a key document regarding sustainable development. It comes under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • 196 countries are a party to the CBD.
  • India is also a party to the Convention.
  • The convention is legally binding on its signatories.
  • The Conference of Parties (COP) is the governing body of the convention. It consists of the governments that have ratified the treaty.
  • Its Secretariat is in Montreal, Canada.
  • Only two member states of the United Nations are not Parties to the CBD, namely: the USA and the Vatican.
  • In the 1992 Earth Summit, two landmark binding agreements were signed, one of them being the UNCBD. The other one was the Convention on Climate Change.
  • More than 150 countries signed the document at the Summit, and since then, over 175 nations have ratified the agreement.

Objective

  • The conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and to technologies, and by appropriate funding.

Goals

  • Conservation of Biological Diversity
  • Sustainable use of the components of the Biodiversity
  • Fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the genetic resources

To achieve the above mention goals CBD follow certain Targets and Protocols as follows

Goals Targets/Protocols
Protect biodiversity COP meetings, Aichi Targets
Safe use of bio-technology Cartagena Biosafety Protocol
Stop unfair use of Genetic resources Nagoya Genetic Resources Protocol

 

Functions

  • Asserting intrinsic value of biodiversity
  • Affirming conservation of biodiversity as a common concern of population
  • Taking responsibility to conserve biodiversity in the State and that the state uses this biodiversity sustainably
  • Affirming the State to put the biological resources as the Sovereign Rights of the State.
  • Taking a precautionary approach towards conservation of biodiversity
  • Highlighting the vital role of local communities and women
  • Supporting access to technologies for developing countries and searching for provisions for new and additional financial resources to address the biodiversity loss in the region

Cartagena Protocol

  • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversityis an international treaty governing the movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology from one country to another.
  • It was adopted on 29 January 2000 as a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity and entered into force on 11 September 2003.

Objective

  • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an additional agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • The Protocol establishes procedures for regulating the import and export of LMOs from one country to another.
  • The Protocol also requires Parties to ensure that LMOs being shipped from one country to another are handled, packaged and transported in a safe manner.
  • The shipments must be accompanied by documentation that clearly identifies the LMOs, specifies any requirements for the safe handling, storage, transport and use and provides contact details for further information.

Nagoya Protocol

  • The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • It provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD.

Objective

  • The fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Obligations

  • The Nagoya Protocol sets out core obligations for its contracting Parties to take measures in relation to access to genetic resources, benefit-sharing and compliance

Traditional Knowledge

  • The Nagoya Protocol addresses traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources with provisions on access, benefit-sharing and compliance.
  • It also addresses genetic resources where indigenous and local communities have the established right to grant access to them.
  • Contracting Parties are to take measures to ensure these communities’ prior informed consent, and fair and equitable benefit-sharing, keeping in mind community laws and procedures as well as customary use and exchange.
  • Obligations
    1. Access Obligations
    2. Benefit Sharing Obligations
    3. Compliance Obligations

Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020

  • In the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held in 2010, in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, adopted a revised and updated Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, for the 2011-2020 period.
  • The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties agreed to translate this overarching international framework into national biodiversity strategies and action plans within two years.
  • Additionally, the meeting decided that the fifth national reports, due by 31 March 2014, should focus on the implementation of the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan and progress achieved towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

12 National Biodiversity targets of India

  1. By 2020, a significant proportion of the country’s population, especially the youth, is aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.
  2. By 2020, values of biodiversity are integrated into national and state planning processes, development programmes and poverty alleviation strategies.
  3. Strategies for reducing the rate of degradation, fragmentation and loss of all natural habitats are finalized and actions put in place by 2020 for environmental amelioration and human well-being.
  4. By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and strategies to manage them developed so that populations of prioritized invasive alien species are managed.
  5. By 2020, measures are adopted for sustainable management of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
  6. Ecologically representative areas under terrestrial and inland water, and also coastal and marine zones, especially those of particular importance for species, biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved effectively and equitably, based on protected area designation and management and other area-based conservation measures and are integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes, covering over 20% of the geographic area of the country, by 2020.
  7. By 2020, genetic diversity of cultivated plants, farm livestock, and their wild relatives, including other socio-economically as well as culturally valuable species, is maintained, and strategies have been developed and implemented for minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.
  8. By 2020, ecosystem services, especially those relating to water, human health, livelihoods and well-being, are enumerated and measures to safeguard them are identified, taking into account the needs of women and local communities, particularly the poor and vulnerable sections.
  9. By 2015, Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization as per the Nagoya Protocol are operational, consistent with national legislation.
  10. By 2020, an effective, participatory and updated national biodiversity action plan is made operational at different levels of governance.
  11. By 2020, national initiatives using communities’ traditional knowledge relating to biodiversity are strengthened, with the view to protecting this knowledge in accordance with national legislation and international obligations.
  12. By 2020, opportunities to increase the availability of financial, human and technical resources to facilitate effective implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the national targets are identified and the Strategy for Resource Mobilization is adopted.

Aichi Targets

  • The ‘Aichi Targets’ were adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at its Nagoya conference.
  • It is a short term plan provides a set of 20 ambitious yet achievable targets, collectively known as the Aichi Targets.

 

Strategic Goal Targets
Strategic Goal A Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.
Strategic Goal B Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use.

 

Strategic Goal C To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.
Strategic Goal D Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Strategic Goal E Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building

 

India’s Sixth Report

  • India recently submitted its Sixth National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • India is among the first five countries in the world, the first in Asia and the first among the biodiversity-rich mega diverse countries to have submitted the report.
  • The submission of national reports is a mandatory obligation on parties to international treaties, including the CBD.
  • As a responsible nation, India has never reneged on its international commitments and has earlier submitted on time five national reports to the CBD.

Highlights of the Report

  • The report provides an update of progress in achievement of 12 National Biodiversity Targets (NBT)developed under the convention process in line with the 20 global Aichi biodiversity targets.
  • The report highlights that while India has exceeded/ overachieved two NBTs, it is on track to achieve eight NBTs and with respect to two remaining NBTs, the country is striving to meet the targets by the stipulated time of 2020.
  • According to the report, India has exceeded the terrestrial component of 17% of Aichi target 11, and 20% of corresponding NBT relating to areas under biodiversity management.
  • Also, India has been investing a huge amount on biodiversity directly or indirectly through several development schemes of the central and state governments, to the tune of Rs 70,000 crores per annum as against the estimated annual requirement of nearly Rs 1,09,000 crore.

Criticism

  • There have been criticisms against CBD that the convention has been weakened in implementation due to the resistance of Western countries to the implementation of the pro-South provisions of the convention.
  • CBD is also regarded as a case of a hard treaty gone soft in the implementation trajectory.
  • The argument to enforce the treaty as a legally binding multilateral instrument with the Conference of Parties reviewing the infractions and non-compliance is also gaining strength.
  • Although the convention explicitly states that all forms of life are covered by its provisions, examination of reports and of national biodiversity strategies and action plans submitted by participating countries shows that in practice this is not happening.
  • Scientists working with biodiversity and medical research are expressing fears that the Nagoya Protocol is counterproductive, and will hamper disease prevention and conservation efforts, and that the threat of imprisonment of scientists will have a chilling effect on research.
  • Non-commercial researchers and institutions such as natural history museums fear maintaining biological reference collections and exchanging material between institutions will become difficult, and medical researchers have expressed alarm at plans to expand the protocol to make it illegal to publicly share genetic information, e.g. via GenBank.

 

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