United Nations Biodiversity Summit
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TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
Addressing the loss of biodiversity is essential for poverty eradication, sustainable jobs, economic development and meeting the SDGs. The conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits from biodiversity underpin the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Humanity’s dependence on biodiversity is widely recognized and nature is critical for the delivery and success of 14 of the 17 SDGs, including those that relate to food security, health, livelihoods, jobs, water security, the ocean, climate change, and disaster prevention.
More than half of the world’s GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature, through the contributions of nature to people such as pollination, water quality, and natural materials. Construction, agriculture, and food and beverages are the three largest sectors most dependent on nature. In recent years, biodiversity loss has been consistently identified by business leaders as one of the top risks to global business.
Degradation of ecosystems, including from deforestation, competing use of land, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture particularly for intensive farming, and infrastructure development, as well as the unsustainable exploitation of wild species have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people.
The Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development provides a critical opportunity to halt biodiversity loss and encourage its sustainable use.
- Theme: Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development
- The summit is first of its kind ever taken place on Biodiversity in the United Nations General Assembly.
- Highlight the crisis facing humanity from the degradation of biodiversity and the urgent need to accelerate action on biodiversity for sustainable development.
- Provide an opportunity for Heads of State and Government and other leaders to raise ambition for the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2021. This framework, and its effective implementation, must put nature on a path to recovery by 2030 to meet the SDGs and realize the Vision of “Living in harmony with nature”.
Recent assessments by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) concluded that species extinction rates are tens to hundreds of times higher now than historical averages, that:
- 75% of the Earth’s land surface has been significantly altered by human actions, including for example the loss of 85% of the area of wetlands
- 66% of the ocean area is experiencing multiple impacts from people, including from fisheries, pollution, and chemical changes from acidification
Representing India at the United Nations(UN) Biodiversity Summit on the occasion of 75th anniversary of the UN General Assembly, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, said that as we are approaching the end of the UN Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020 and there is now an urgent need to accelerate action to conserve biodiversity.
The emergence of COVID-19 has emphasized the fact that un-regulated exploitation of natural resources coupled with un-sustainable food habits and consumption pattern lead to destruction of system that supports human life. However, COVID-19 has also shown that Nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably.
- As enshrined in our Vedic scripts “PrakritiRakshatiRakshita” that is if you protect nature, nature will protect you. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, the ethos of non-violence and protection of animals and nature have been suitably enshrined in the Constitution of India and is reflected in several laws and legislations.
- India aims to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land, and achieve land-degradation neutrality by 2030.
- India has already set aside extensive area for meeting the conservation objectives, contributing to Aichi Biodiversity Target-11 and the SDG -15.
- India has established a comprehensive institutional and legal system to realize the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
- India has operationalized a system for access and benefit-sharing provisions of the CBD through a national network of 0.25 million Biodiversity Management Committees across the country involving local people and 0.17 million Peoples Biodiversity Registers for documentation of biodiversity.
- India, with only 2.4% of the earth’s land area hosts around 8% of the world’s recorded species.
- In the course of last decade, India has enhanced the combined forest and tree cover to 24.56% of the total geographical area of the country.
- India has the highest number of tigers in the wild and have doubled its numbers ahead of the deadline of 2022and recently announced the launch of Project Lion and Project Dolphin.
- Investments in biodiversity including through jobs, incentive reform, and policies that boost conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of biodiversity, and through an inclusive “One Health” approach are essential elements of reducing the risk of future zoonotic outbreaks, and ensure a sustainable, equitable and green recovery of economies.
- Sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity is key to ensure that no one is left behind. Every person, in every community, depends on biodiversity, but poorer and marginalized groups are those most directly vulnerable to biodiversity loss. Around one third of jobs in developing countries are directly dependent on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and rural and indigenous communities are particularly dependent on nature for their livelihoods and culture. More than a quarter of the global land area is traditionally owned, managed, used or occupied by indigenous peoples, covering one third of all remaining land wilderness areas. Indigenous peoples and local communities therefore have a particularly important role as custodians of nature.
- Empowerment of women, currently with limited or no access to resources and opportunities to contribute, is also critical as key actors and agents of change in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, for example through significant and often overlooked roles in fisheries, seed conservation, and harvesting of wild resources, among many other areas.
- Restoration of biodiversity and implementation of nature-based solutions will be essential to meet the SDGs. Ecosystem degradation is reducing the capacity of biodiversity to address climate change and compromising progress to achieve the SDGs, underlining the urgency of action on biodiversity for sustainable development. Nature-based solutions can contribute to climate mitigation and adaptation, food and water security and to protection from flooding and other extreme events, and they provide key opportunities for integrating biodiversity into actions to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs.
Urgent action on biodiversity is needed across all sectors and from all actors. Action on biodiversity for sustainable development is needed by public and private sectors, including from national and sub-national governments, cities, the business and finance world, and civil society. The right conditions for action and innovation at scale, the removal of barriers to change, and deep-rooted shifts in both consumer culture and world views are all elements of the transformations required to secure a sustainable future for people, planet and prosperity.
Connecting the Dots:
- What measures is India taking to ensure a “One Health” approach (linking the health of people, livestock, and nature) to reduce the risk of future zoonotic pandemics?
- What are India’s plans to integrate ambitious and accelerated action for biodiversity into your country’s sustainable development efforts? Critically examine.
- Earth’s living systems as a whole are being compromised. What are your views? Discuss.