Biodiversity COP11: Key Outcomes
Interview with Shri Hem Pande, Additional Secretary MoEF

Sanskriti Menon, Programme Director, CEE Central Regional Cell and CEE Urban

Shri Hem Pande,
Additional Secretary, MoEF
The eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention and its sixth meeting serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, was hostedby Ministry of Environment and Forests, GOI from 1 to 19 October 2012 in Hyderabad. Post conference Shri Hem Pande, Additional Secretary MoEF shares the key outcomes of COP 11 and ESD and Presidency for the Convention in an interview with Sanskriti Menon, Editor, Education for Change.

What are some of the key outcomes of COP 11 from India’s point of view?
India successfully hosted the eleventh CoP to the CBD, and the sixth Conference of the Parties serving as Meeting of the Parties (CoP/MoP-6) to the CBD’s Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in Hyderabad from 1-19 October, 2012. The event provided India with an opportunity to consolidate, scale-up and showcase our initiatives and strengths on biodiversity.

CBD CoP-11 adopted 33 decisions on a range of strategic, substantive, administrative, financial and budgetary issues. These include: the status of the Nagoya Protocol on access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing (ABS); implementation of the Strategic Plan 2011-2020 and progress towards the Aichi biodiversity targets; and implementation of the Strategy for Resource Mobilization; issues related to financial resources and the financial mechanism; cooperation, outreach and the UN Decade on Biodiversity; operations of the Convention; and administrative and budgetary matters. Delegates also addressed: ecosystem restoration; Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge); marine and coastal biodiversity; biodiversity and climate change; biodiversity and development; and several other ecosystem-related and cross-cutting issues.

India is quite satisfied with the outcomes of these meetings.We are particularly happy with the meaningful decision on resource mobilization of doubling the total biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries
by 2015 and at least maintaining this level until 2020. This is a significant achievement that would add confidence to this process and hopefully assist developing countries in their efforts to protect biodiversity.

Some other contentious issues which yielded good outcomes during CoP-11 are: geo-engineering, guidance on safeguards for biodiversity with regard to REDD+, and marine and coastal biodiversity.

The decision to have a third meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on Nagoya Protocol (ICNP-3), alongwith intersessional work on outstanding issues, as well as supporting initiatives to promote ratification and early entry into force and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol is also an important outcome.

The UNGA has since also adopted a resolution on ‘Implementation of Convention on Biological Diversity and its contribution to sustainable development’ highlighting the achievements of CoP-11.

India holds the Presidency for the Convention for the years 2013 and 14, till the next COP. Which are some of the priority areas that India would seek to further develop in the duration of the Presidency?
In its two-year term as the CoP Presidency, India would like to see progress on the delivery of decisions adopted at CoP-11 and CoP-MoP-6. After the important set of decisions takenin COP-10 and COP-11, the priority for the international community must now be on Implementation. India looks forward to the continued support of all the Parties in this regard.

We would also like to work towards encouraging Partiesto expedite ratification of the Nagoya Protocol, so that the requisite number of ratifications are received in time for the first CoP-MoP of the Protocol to be held concurrently with CoP-12. Expeditious ratification and entry into force of the Protocol and implementation of its provisions related to Access and Benefit Sharing are important key deliverables.

At CoP-11, a call was made to Parties and other stakeholders by the Executive Secretary, CBD to pledge urgent action towards achieving Aichi Biodiversity Targets and become one of several Biodiversity Champions. While inaugurating the High Level Segment, the Prime Minister of India has announced the earmarking of a sum of US$ 50 million during India’s Presidency of CoP to strengthen institutional mechanisms, enhance technical and human capabilities for biodiversity conservation in India, and to promote similar capacity building in other developing countries.

India would like to see other governments join the Hyderabad Call for Action on Biodiversity, by pledging support for biodiversity at domestic, regional or global levels. Towardsthis a joint letter signed by the Minister for Environment and Forests as the CoP-11 President and Executive Secretary, CBD Secretariat has been sent to Ministers in charge of all countries.

Some of the other initiatives taken by India in the run-up and during CoP-11 could also be worthy of emulation and follow- up. The brand Ambassador of CoP-11, namely the Science Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS) train, an innovative mobile exhibition mounted on a specially designed 16 coach AC train which traveled across India from 5th June to 22nd December 2012. This train received over 2.3 million visitors in its journey and played a key role in creating awareness about biodiversity in the country. After the resounding success of SEBS, the possibility to increase the reach of this train to even more remote corners of the country to increase awareness on biodiversity is being explored. Many visiting CoP-11 delegates who visited SEBS in Hyderabad during CoP-11 expressed desire for something similar in their countries.

India has also decided to establish a Biodiversity Museum and a Garden in Hyderabad at the site where our Prime Minister unveiled a commemorative Pylon during CoP-11. The Prime Minister planted the first tree on behalf of India. Representatives of the participating countries at CoP-11 also planted trees. Hyderabad is the first host city of CBD CoP to establish commemorative Pylon, garden and museum.

India would like to play a leadership role during her Presidency by supporting and hosting capacity building in the developing countries. We have offered to host inter-sessional meetings such as the meeting of the Inter Governmental Committee of Nagoya Protocol, expert meeting on biodiversity and poverty eradication, capacity building workshops of developing countries to help them take legislative/administrative measures, and regional/subregional workshops on protected areas etc.

We have also offered to meet part of the cost of the meeting of the Working Group on Art. 8j on Traditional Knowledge.

We would continue to work proactively at the national level as well in our continued quest for mainstreaming biodiversity conversation and protection.

What are some of the key outcomes as regards Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) efforts? What are the specific areas that ESD professionals should focus on to help achieve the Aichi Targets in the coming years?
Target 1 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets is about making people aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.

Addressing the direct and underlying drivers of biodiversityloss will ultimately require behavioral change by individuals, organizations and governments. Understanding, awareness and appreciation of the diverse values of biodiversity, underpin the willingness of individuals to make the necessary changes and actions and to create the “political will” for governments to act.

Given this, actions taken towards this target will greatly facilitate the implementation of the Strategic Plan and the fulfillment of the other 19 Aichi Targets, particularly Target 2.

The Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) efforts would play an important role in achieving this target, which in turn would help in contributing to achieving other Aichi targets.

Biodiversity is not widely understood and as a result its economic, social and environmental importance is often poorly recognized. The values of biodiversity, should be interpreted in the broadest sense, including environmental, cultural, economic and intrinsic values.

While a better understanding of the values of biodiversity is important in building the motivation for action, it is not enough. Individuals also need to be aware of the types of actions they themselves can take in order to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity. Different segments of society can take different actions depending on the types of activities they have control or influence over. Such information can help to empower individuals to take action. The target 1 applies to all people in society.

In order to progress towards this target, Parties will need to develop and implement coherent, strategic and sustained communication, education and public awareness efforts. Different types of education and public awareness activities or campaigns will be needed to reach the different audiences in a country as activities which are effective for one group, may not be for others.

Learning occurs in formal contexts of learning, such as in schools and universities, as well as in informal contexts, such as through the guidance of elders, as well as in museums and parks, and through films, television and literature. Learning also occurs through participation in events and other opportunities for information exchange between stakeholders. Therefore there are a variety of communication and outreach vehicles which could be used. Where possible, awareness and learning about the values of biodiversity should be linked to and mainstreamed into the principles and messages of education for sustainable development.

The Convention’s Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) programme is an important instrument for this target. The establishment of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity by the United Nations General Assembly represents an opportunity, throughout the implementation period of the Strategic Plan, to link national awareness raising activities with a broader international process as a means of developing greater visibility and traction for such actions. Likewise the International Day for Biodiversity, on 22 May, provides a similar opportunity.

For more information contact:
Hem Pande, Additional Secretary
Ministry of Environment and Forests
Room No. 622, Paryavaran Bhawan
CGO Complex, Lodi Road, New Delhi - 110 003
Telefax: 011-24361308, 24363967


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