New Delhi: Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav has said that India’s forest and tree cover is steadily rising, together with our wildlife population. Definitive steps are being taken to return the iconic cheetah to Indian habitats. India has taken a quantum jump in the number of declared Ramsar sites to the current figure of seventy-five. As a large developing country, our forest policy is challenging to implement but our forest surveys are testimony to its success.
While delivering India’s National Statement at the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at Montreal, Canada, he said that India’s balance sheet in implementing the Aichi targets is pro-active and forward looking and India is on track to meeting its commitments.
Similarly, agriculture, as for other developing countries, is the source of life, livelihoods and culture for hundreds of millions. Such essential support to vulnerable sections cannot be called subsidies and targeted for elimination, while they may be rationalized. Biodiversity must be promoted through positive investment. Similarly, a numerical global target for pesticide reduction is unnecessary and must be left to countries to decide.
India has taken numerous steps to keep Invasive Alien Species at bay. But a numerical target is not feasible without the necessary baseline and relevant scientific evidence.
The Global Biodiversity Framework must be framed in the light of science and equity, and the sovereign right of nations over their resources, as provided for in the Convention on Biodiversity. If climate is profoundly linked to biodiversity, then the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities must equally apply to biodiversity.
When nature itself is under stress because of the historical disproportionate and iniquitous GHG emissions of the developed countries, Nature-based solutions to global warming and other environmental challenges are not an answer without resolute action by developed countries to measure up to their historical and current responsibilities. Nature cannot protect if it is not itself protected. Nature is the victim of global warming, and its protective features can do little against unchecked temperature rise.
He said that one cannot only conserve, preserve and restore, one must also promote sustainable use and it is in this context that Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi’s clarion call for a people’s movement centred on LiFE – Lifestyle for Environment launched on 20th October 2022 at Ekta Nagar in Gujarat in the presence of UN Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres assumes significance.
He said that the provision of the means of implementation must match our ambition. The MDGs had 8 goals, the SDGs have 17 goals, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets were 20 and the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) may have 23 targets. The increased expectations through these targets call for matching means of implementation, especially through public finance. Our only source of funding remains the Global Environment Facility that caters to multiple Conventions.
The value of biodiversity to humankind also lies in its economic dimension alongside the cultural and social. Sustainable use and access and benefit sharing are key to promoting biodiversity, alongside the efforts to conserve, protect and restore.
Modern technologies, especially information technology, can assist our goals. Hence the Digital Sequencing Information must be linked to access and benefit sharing in a just and fair manner.
India looks forward to fruitful deliberations that will preserve and enhance our natural heritage that our ancestors and traditions have provided us. We are but merely custodian of Planet Earth and our bounden duty is to further enrich the rich biodiversity of Mother Earth, restore its pristine glory and hand it over to the next generation for the benefit of one and all – mankind, nature and all life forms.
He re-iterated that what is needed today is Mindful and Deliberate Utilization, instead of Mindless and Destructive Consumption. It is in this context he said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the Mission LiFE which is a mass movement towards an environmentally conscious lifestyle. Embracing it, let us move forward towards an equitable and sustainable world by implementing the foundational principles of CBD, both in letter and spirit. It is this spirit which has been captured so truly in the logo of India’s G20 Presidency which calls for One World, One Family.