PM pledges $50 m to conserve biodiversity

New Delhi ratifies Nagoya Protocol

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday announced a $50 million fund to boost conservation of biological diversity in the country and similar capacity building efforts for the developing nations during its two-year presidency of the COP-11.

After launching the Hyderabad Pledge, the prime minister addressed the opening plenary of the three-day high-level segment of the 11th Conference of Parties (COP-11) to the Convention of Biological Diversity.

He said: “The fund is to strengthen the institutional mechanism for biodiversity conservation in India. 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.”

Announcing that India has ratified the Nagoya Protocol and formalised its commitment to it, the prime minister urged all the parties to do likewise. He said India has tried a unique approach to protection of traditional knowledge by establishing a Traditional Knowledge Digital Library with a database of 34 million pages of information in five international languages in formats easily accessible by patent examiners. This library promotes the objectives of the Nagoya Protocol on the issue of protection of codified traditional knowledge systems such as the celebrated Ayurveda.

“We decided to build this knowledge database because of the patent on the use of neem extract in Europe and another on the use of turmeric as a healing agent. Since then, because of this database, over 1,000 cases of biopiracy have been identified and over 105 claims withdrawn or cancelled by patent offices.” He said India was willing to help them establish similar data bases.

Food security

The prime minister said: “We know that food security is a key challenge for the world, particularly in an increasingly climate vulnerable world. Biodiversity, found in our forests and our fields, could provide us keys to the solutions of the future. So we need to build a movement to conserve traditional varieties of crops.”

He said all three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, namely, conservation, sustainable use and sharing of benefits from the utilisation of genetic resources, is the basis of India’s Biological Diversity Act of 2002. The 2008 National Biodiversity Action Plan further identifies specific action points by various government agencies.

He further said that for a highly populated country like India, there are more than 600 protected areas, covering approximately 5 per cent of the total geographical area of the country, in a network of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and conservation reserves.  He said India’s conservation plans are not limited to large animals like tigers and elephants. India has embarked on a species recovery programme on 16 identified endangered species including the snow leopard, hangul and lion, complemented by enhanced international collaboration to check wildlife crime.

Earlier, Jayanthi Natarajan, COP-11 chairperson and Union minister of environment and forests, stressed the need of an interim agreement between the parties at the conference on the unresolved agenda of financial resource mobilisation.
After attending the conference, Singh proceeded to Gachibowli to unveil the COP-11 commemorative pylon and also laid the foundation stone for a biodiversity park and museum.

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