Need better steps

A positive outcome of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity, held in Hyderabad, was the commitment made by the developed countries to double their quantum of funding of developing countries by 2015 to help reduce the loss of the planet’s biodiversity.

That may amount to resource flows in the range of $17-40 billion, but falls far short of the estimated requirement of $150-440 billion. India, as host, played an active part in the negotiations and had in the beginning made a pledge of $50 million.

It did much to keep the discussions free of rancour and to persuade the developed countries to increase their commitments. But the success of a meeting cannot be measured by the promises made therein. The agreed plan to restore 15 per cent of the degraded ecosystem, made two years ago, has not been successful as  the promised financial support did not materialise.

Since the earth’s biological reserves are fast depleting, urgent action is needed to counter the trend. The right balance between human, animal and plant life is essential to maintain the integrity of nature. The upsetting of that balance will endanger the survival of  all the three.

If natural causes and evolutionary pressures had led to the disappearance of many life forms in the past, recently it is a more human-centric view of the world and reckless pursuit of development that is causing the extinction of many species. Since conservation has now become an important concern, some efforts are being made to at least clarify the issues at stake and draw up some plans.

The conference of parties at Nagoya in Japan two years ago decided to set targets for conservation, sustainable use of resources and sharing of benefits for the utilisation of resources. It also bound countries to various legal and other measures to achieve these targets.

But the strategic plan for biodiversity 2011-2020 is lagging. Better availability of funds may make a difference. The pressure on developed countries has to be kept up for this. India has much at stake because it is richer in biological resources than most other countries. But it has also to take many steps mandated by the Nagoya protocol. While pressuring developed nations to keep their promises, the developing world should fully discharge its own responsibilities too.

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