The Conference Of Parties: Is India A Suitable Host?

Posted on July 6, 2012 in Environment

By Tanaya Singh:

15 years, 20-25%, 7.5 years gone 7.5 more to go. These are the figures that mockingly stared back at India when our Prime Minister stood in Rio de Janeiro during the Rio+20 summit and said, “Looking ahead, we have set a target to further reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 20-25 percent between 2005 and 2020”. After this he asked for international cooperation during the 11th Conference of Parties (COP11) on the Convention on Biological Diversity to be held in India in October 2012. Well, what India forgot was that it’s easy to go out and invite people to your party, to print invitation cards, to put up posters and to publish a website about it, but it’s really difficult to come back home at make arrangements, until you are fully prepared.

From 8th to 19th October, India shall be the host of this environmental gathering wherein more than 10,000 representatives from around 200 countries shall accumulate in Hyderabad. The main goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity, its conservation and an equal sharing of the benefits from genetic resources. While the government seems all set for the upcoming event, we all are aware of the chaos hidden behind the smile of a party’s host. Here too, the chaos is not being talked of, but it’s big.

“India’s development model is inherently unsustainable and destructive of biodiversity. It needs a drastic re-orientation.” When this truth about the nation was said, it was curbed by the nation itself. Let’s have a look at how this happened, and what’s in store.

Every nation that is a part of the CBD needs to have a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). In 2000, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) was given a million dollar grant to prepare the NBSAB, which in turn gave the responsibility to a civil society group Kalpavriksh, to carry out the proceedings. The Final Technical Report (FTR) was drafted after the world’s largest procedure on environmental planning. This had the participation of more than 50,000 people, from the local communities to the armed forces and every possible field of occupation in the country. After numerous events conducted over the span of four years, an action plan was produced.

India was the proud compiler of this 300 page document; the NBSAP-FTR was presented in many international events. But then suddenly, like lights going off in the middle of an elated party, the ministry declared that this report could not be the NBSAP. A false reason for this was given that Dr Raman Sukumar of Indian Institute of Science has adjudged it to be “scientifically invalid”. Then the ministry put forward points like the aforementioned one, which were there in the report and which according to them shall be “embarrassing” for the country. Guess they never heard that truth stings. The points included the following:

1. In India, a number of biodiversity elements have been subjected to impacts of inappropriate trade systems, (which could) significantly increase with India’s acceding to the World Trade Organisations’ treaties.
2. India has played an inadequate role in advocating conservation and sustainable use of shared resources with neighbouring countries in South Asia.
3. There is a need for dialogue and involvement of militant groups in assigning responsibility for conservation in sensitive ecosystems affected by armed conflicts.

When this is the fact, why it never crossed their minds that it should be brought out in the open, be talked about and solutions be sought, instead of hiding all this behind golden curtains? In 2009, the final National Biodiversity Action plan was brought out by the ministry, which is said to be a 40% repetition of the Macrolevel strategy on Biodiversity of 1999 and has no public participation. 10 years and we stay stagnant.

Now, as for the presentation at COP11, it is reported that a revised version of the NBSAP shall be ready before the huge event, which will focus on biodiversity issues being merged with various economic sectors. But then, we can never be sure till the final day, because chances are; what was cooked in the kitchen and what is served on the plate can be completely different dishes.

At this stage, not only India but all the nations need to concentrate on many other issues, than sorting out the clothes that can be put on display and those which need to hidden in their closets. With a few small proposals like low carbon economy and a movement towards organic products, there is a very little hope but it’s definitely not enough. If during this process of desired growth, the grassroot initiatives, the people residing in forests, the farmers, the fishing population, the garbage collectors, the recyclers, in short, the general mass that works with and for the environment is kept at the brink, and then the party is certainly going to be a failed one. If the ecological sustainably goes on falling the way it is right now, the world leaders will have to wonder if there will be any place left on earth where they will be able to sit and discuss their so-called important economic policies.