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  • TERI along with National Biodiversity Authority and UNDP hosts the National Seminar on Biodiversity, Development and Poverty Alleviation in the context of Climate Change

    22 May 2010

    The conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity offers resilience to climate variability and natural disasters. Biodiversity improves the capacity of a social-ecological system both to withstand perturbations (from climate or economic shocks) and to rebuild and renew itself afterwards. Very few policy and decision makers are aware of this important contribution of biodiversity. Recognizing the opportunities that healthy ecosystems provide to adapt to global change is crucial; TERI along with the National Biodiversity Authority of India and UNDP hosted the National Seminar on Biodiversity, Development and Poverty Alleviation in the context of Climate Change, a global theme declared by the United Nations.

    Present on the occasion were Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests, GoI, Dr Leena Srivastava, Executive Director, Operations TERI, Dr PL Gautam, Chairman, National Biodiversity Authority of India, Dr PJ Dilip Kumar, Director-General Forests & Special Secretary MOEF, and Mr. MF Farooqui, Additional Secretary MoEF along with distinguished guests from various multilateral, bilateral and research institutions.

    Given the fact that India has made significant efforts towards biodiversity because of its own domestic needs, Mr Jairam Ramesh, stressed on the requirement of an effective and coherent convergence of policies at a global, national and regional level to achieve a significant reduction of the present biodiversity loss. He said, "India has been the initial signatory of the CBD (Convention of Biological Diversity), hence safeguarding biodiversity requires action at all levels with a strong commitment to contribute towards achieving international targets." He further added that "Over the years India has taken several key initiatives to achieve the objectives of the CBD at the national level through—creation of an institutional structure, through Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), an important initiative by India to fight against bio-piracy globally and through the People Biodiversity Register (PBR) to document the oral knowledge on biodiversity."

    The honorable minister also mentioned that India has proactively developed a link between climate change and biodiversity by creating an Indian version of IPCC, i.e. Indian Network for Comprehensive Climate Change Assessment that will conduct a 4x4 assessment in the sectors of Agriculture, Forests, Water and Health, and regions of Himalayas, Western Ghats, North-East India, and Coastal regions, measuring the impact of Climate Change. He also said that on forests and climate change, India is going to double its aforestation targets as a part of Greening India Mission, one of the missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change.

    Dr Leena Srivastava, Executive Director Operations TERI, in her welcome address mentioned that the contribution of biodiversity to human and economic well-being is important; hence adequate management and governance at the national level are the key strengths that need to be developed. Emphasizing on strengthening and addressing the key challenges afflicting economic resources, bio-resources and the environment Dr. Srivastava said "There is an urgent need for strengthening the institutional base for biodiversity and a requirement for checking the impact of climate change on biodiversity, environment, ecosystems, health, etc, ensuring continued benefits to people and opportunities for poverty reduction and economic development."

    The seminar highlighted the importance and conservation of biodiversity for mitigation and adaptation in the context of climate change. It raised several issues about availability of existing knowledge, governance, possible conducive policy environment, role of local communities and traditional knowledge. It was discussed that biodiversity has been a life support system in the crisis created by climate change and biodiversity offers a set of solutions for mitigation as well as for adaptation.

    The seminar also had deliberations on issues such as:

    • Tropical forest productivity: Conservation for development which highlighted issues on the forest productivity of the tropical evergreen forests from different part of world to build a stronger case for tropical forests as the active sink for mitigation. This function of the tropical forests strengthens the case of these ecosystems for conservation and hence also provides an important developmental opportunity for the local communities dependent on these ecosystems.
    • Poverty alleviation using agro-forestry models providing an important opportunity for small and medium farmers to gain from the market value of the products as well as from the carbon markets.
    • REDD+: Addressing poverty alleviation of forest dependent communities, addressing the participation of local communities and financial mechanisms to benefit the local communities from biodiversity conservation.
    • Discovering new drugs: Banking on species diversity to explore the rich base of biodiversity in developing the new drugs against the future health problems.
    • Biofuels: Biodiversity based adaptation strategy focusing on various options available in nature to harness future demands and types of fuel.

    Key recommendations of the seminar included strengthening of biodiversity monitoring system, creation of linkages amongst various pertinent institutions, focusing on marine ecosystems along with terrestrial ones, and understanding the economic values of biodiversity. The seminar ended with a conclusion that the learning's from Indian experience has a wider benefit in South Asian and the pan-tropical context, in terms of developing the programs for mitigation and adaptation based on the biodiversity resources, hence country leadership and increased support from development cooperation are critical for the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, nationally and internationally too.

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