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India commits $50m to biodiversity conservation.

Hyderabad : The Indian government on Tuesday came out with the Hyderabad Pledge while committing $50 million (Dh183 million) towards biodiversity conservation in the country over the next two years.

Inaugurating the high level segment of the 11th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad on Tuesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also announced that India had ratified the Nagoya Protocol (access to genetic resources and the fair andequitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilization).

"We will use these funds to enhance the technical and human capabilities of our national and state-level mechanisms to attain the Convention on Biological Diversity objectives. We have also earmarked funds to promote similar capacity-building in developing countries," Singh said.

Singh's Hyderabad Pledge was welcomed by the 5,000 delegates from 193 countries participating at the UN global conference.

Announcing that India had ratified the Nagoya Protocol and formalized its commitment to it, Singh urged all parties to do the same as concerted global action was imperative and cannot allow any further delay.

"Despite global efforts, the 2010 biodiversity target that we had set for ourselves under the Convention on Biological Diversity was not fully met. This situation needs to change. The critical issue really is how to mobilise the necessary financial, technical and human resources, particularly the incubation, sharing and transfer of technology", he said.

Stressing that in India the issue of biological diversity conservation was closely linked to the livelihood of the people, he said, "In our country, protecting and promoting biodiversity has always been an integral part of our ethos and our civilization. This can be seen in the thousands of sacred groves that are found all over the country. Our traditional systems of agriculture and medicine depend on plant and animal biodiversity."

In this context he also highlighted various initiatives of his government to help the cause of biodiversity conservation. "Indian farmers have always believed in the free use of seeds. The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights' Act of India confers intellectual property to farmers through registration of seed varieties. In our Patent Act we have adopted disclosure requirements on the origin of inventions based on biodiversity. But I believe a lot more needs to be done".

The prime minister said that the challenge ahead was to develop new model of inclusive conservation. "In India, we have legislated a Forest Rights Act that lends legal sanctity to the rights of forest dwellers, who are often the best friends of the biodiversity that resides in these magnificent forests. We will have to adopt similarly innovative approaches to deal with the issue of protecting fishermen's livelihoods even as we negotiate a framework on sustainable use of marine biodiversity in the high seas".

Hailing India's commitment to the conservation of biodiversity, Braulio Ferreira De Souza Dias, executive secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity said that it will send a powerful message to all the countries.

On the Hyderabad Pledge, he said, "Your launch of the Hyderabad Pledge, and announcement of such major financial commitment to strengthen institutional mechanisms in India, sets a strong example".

He said that the preservation of the Earth's biodiversity is essential to the future of humanity, to sustainable development and to uplift the conditions of the poor. "Effective implementation of the Convention and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and attainment of its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, are essential to reverse the alarming decline of life on Earth".

Stressing the need for the participating countries to make a clear financial commitment he said that expenditure on biodiversity should not be seen as a cost but as investment that will pay back with significant environmental, social and economic benefits for all our societies.

The Minister for Environment Jayanti Natrajan said that the failure in reaching an agreement on mobilization of resources to achieve the goals by 2020 will not be forgiven by the coming generations.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Oct 17, 2012
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