The United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) ended in Montreal, Canada, on 19 December 2022 with a landmark agreement to guide global action on nature.
- It was chaired by China and hosted by Canada.
- This agreement has been achieved under Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
- UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and UNCBD were both outcomes of 1992 Rio Earth Summit — as was the third member of the family, Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), which deals specifically with the issue of land degradation. The CBD came into force in 1993; the other two in the following year.
- Signatories to Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meet every two years to work on a global plan to halt biodiversity loss and restore natural ecosystems.
- The CBD has given rise to two ‘supplementary’ agreements — the Cartagena Protocol of 2003 and the Nagoya Protocol of 2014. Both agreements take their names from the places where they were negotiated.
- The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety seeks to protect biodiversity from genetically modified organisms by ensuring their safe handling, transport and use.
- The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing deals with the commercial utilisation of biological and genetic resources, for example, by pharma companies. It asks the host countries to provide access to its genetic resources in a legal, fair and non-arbitrary manner and, as mentioned above, offers them a fair and equitable share of benefits arising out of the utilisation of those resources.
- The Montreal meeting was the 15th edition of this conference, hence the name COP15.
- It seeks to respond to the Global Assessment Report of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services issued by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in 2019 which provides ample evidence that, despite ongoing efforts, biodiversity is deteriorating worldwide at rates unprecedented in human history: An average of around 25% of species in assessed animal and plant groups are threatened, suggesting that around 1 million species already face extinction.
- In total there are 23 targets and 4 goals.
- It sets out targets for 2030:
- on protection for degraded areas,
- resource mobilisation for conservation,
- compensation for countries that preserve biodiversity,
- halting human activity linked to species extinction,
- reducing by half the spread of invasive alien species (introduced plants and animals that affect endemic biodiversity),
- cutting pollution to non-harmful levels and
- minimising climate change impact and ocean acidification.
This target calls for 30% of the earth’s land and sea to be conserved through the establishment of protected areas (PAs) and other area-based conservation measures (OECMs). A related commitment is to ensure that restoration activities would be started on at least 30 per cent of degraded land or marine ecosystems by 2030.
- Agreement calls upon members to adopt biodiversity-supporting methods such as agroecology and sustainable intensification.
- It also talks about turning cities into hosts of biodiversity, by expanding urban green and blue spaces. Urban planning should also be biodiversity-inclusive, enhancing native biodiversity, ecological connectivity and integrity, and improving human health and well-being and connection to nature.
- Four GBF goals for 2050 deal with:
- Maintaining ecosystem integrity and health to halt extinctions,
- Measuring and valuing ecosystem services provided by biodiversity,
- Sharing monetary and non-monetary gains from genetic resources and digital sequencing of genetic resources with indigenous people and local communities,
- Raising resources for all countries to close a biodiversity finance gap of an estimated $700 billion.
- GBF envisages that there will be access to justice and information related to biodiversity for indigenous peoples and local communities, respecting their cultures and rights over lands, territories, resources, and traditional knowledge.
Monitoring and implementation
- Member nations need to submit a revised and updated national biodiversity strategy and action plan at the conference to be held in 2024.
- Further, the parties to the CBD should submit national reports in 2026 and 2029 to help prepare global reviews.
- High-level discussions on the progress reviews should be held in 2024 and 2026.
- By 2030, the GBF hopes to see at least $200 billion raised per year from all sources — domestic, international, public and private — towards implementation of national action plans.
- In terms of international funding, developing countries should get at least $20 billion a year by 2025 and at least $30 billion by 2030 through contributions from developed countries.
India pushes for new BIODIVERSITY fund
- At the COP15 biodiversity conference in Montreal, the country said that there is an urgent need to create a new and dedicated fund to help developing countries successfully implement a post-2020 global framework to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.
- It has also said that conservation of biodiversity must also be based on ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities’ (CBDR) as climate change also impacts nature.
- As 196 parties to UNCBD finalise negotiations for a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)—a new set of goals and targets to halt and reverse biodiversity loss—there have been repeated calls for the inclusion of the CBDR principle in finance-related targets.
- Established as the seventh principle of the Rio Declaration adopted at the Earth Summit in 1992, CBDR is defined as states that have common but differentiated responsibilities in view of the different contributions to global environmental degradation.
- However, applying the CBDR principle to biodiversity conservation has not been straightforward as compared to climate negotiations, and there have been repeated disagreements between the global north and south on the issue.
- So far, the Global Environment Facility which caters to multiple conventions, including the UNFCCC and UN Convention to Combat Desertification, remains the only source of funding for biodiversity conservation.
- A ‘biodiversity credit’ is an economic instrument used to finance activities that deliver net positive biodiversity gains.
- It is a mechanism that allows individuals and companies to invest in environmental projects that contribute to richer biodiversity.
- Different from carbon or biodiversity offset – Unlike carbon or biodiversity offsets, which are payments made by a business to compensate for its damaging impacts on location-specific ecosystems, biodiversity credits allow companies to support nature-positive action, funding long-term conservation and restoration of nature, a higher order contribution than simply offsetting negative impact.
Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee
GEAC established under MoEFCC. It is the Apex body notified under Rules 1989 to accord approval of activities involving large-scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle.
Composition of GEAC
- Chairman – Additional / Special Secretary, MoEFCC
- Co-Chairman: Representative of Department of Bio-technology Vice-Chairman —Joint Secretary, MoEFCC
|Bt cotton||crylAc gene||First and only GM crop approved in India.|
India ranks first in global cotton production
|Bt brinjal||Bt brinjal is created by inserting a crystal protein gene (CrylAc) from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringenisus (Bt) and it is resistant to Fruit and Shoot Borer (Leucinodes orbonalis)||In 2009, GEAC recommended the approval of commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal (eggplant)|
In, 2010, MoEFCC announced a moratorium on approval.
|GE Mustard, DMH-11||GE Mustard, DMH-11, containing Barnase-Barstar system is under evaluation by the Government of India||Technology developed by Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, University of Delhi.|
Six Competent Authorities and their composition have been notified under these Rules which are as follows:
i. Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RDAC)
ii. Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBSC)
iii. Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM)
iv. Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)
v. State Biosafety Coordination Committees (SBCC)
vi. District Level Committees (DLC).
While the RDAC is of advisory in function, the IBSC, RCGM, and GEAC are of regulatory function; SBCC and DLC are for monitoring purposes.