Understanding the National Biodiversity Targets and the Biodiversity Act
India is one of the richest country in biodiversity since it stretches from the tropical to temperate latitudes; receives monsoonal rains; and has prominent mountain ranges, riverine systems and a long coastline. It is one of the 17 mega-diverse countries in the world. The people of India co-inhabit space with 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals. There may be many more yet to be identified and listed.
The web of life woven by the diversity of animals and plants (biological diversity or biodiversity) sustains national economies and lives. Only when the concept of biodiversity conservation is mainstreamed into the national policies and people’s lives, will there be an incentive to conserve it.
Mainstreaming biodiversity for conservation has a strong economic payback. According to the interim report of The Economics of Ecosystem and Biodiversity: India Initiative (TEEB-India), the economic value of representative ecosystem services (timber, fuelwood, non-timber forest produce, recreation and carbon) from the Uttara Kanada district in Karnataka is Rs 252,696 per hectare per year. This is from just one district in the country.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was one of the three framework conventions that came out of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. The CBD marked a paradigm shift in international negotiations – it declared biological diversity as a sovereign property, belonging to the country where it is found. Till then, biodiversity was considered as a global commons.
The CBD introduced a three-fold objective: conservation of biodiversity (and associated traditional knowledge), promoting its sustainable use, and ensuring equitable sharing of benefits emerging from its use. The Biological Diversity Act of 2002 put into motion the process of implementation. India was the first country in the world to have Biodiversity Act.
Through the Biodiversity Act the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), with its headquarters in Chennai, was established. State biodiversity boards (SBBs) have been established in 29 states, and more than 37,000 biodiversity management committees (BMCs) were established with panchayat bodies. These bodies are responsible for managing the country’s biological wealth and have to approve industrial/commercial use of these resources and promote sharing of benefits with the conservers.
The United Nations has been observing May 22 as the International Biodiversity Day, to promote the concept of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and sharing of benefits. Every year a theme is selected as the main message for the Day. The theme for 2016 is ‘Mainstreaming biodiversity, sustaining people and their livelihoods’.
There are 12 National Biodiversity Targets for India till the year 2020. These spell out ways in which biodiversity needs to be mainstreamed into national and state policies and the lives of the people of India.
India’s National Biodiversity Targets are in keeping with the international Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Recently there was a Media Workshop in Delhi which aimed to :
The main aim of the media workshops was to strengthen journalist understanding on the National Biodiversity Targets and the Biodiversity Act, especially with specific reference to mainstreaming the concept of biodiversity conservation into policy and action.
Experts talked about the National Biodiversity Targets and the concept of mainstreaming through these four interfaces:
Biodiversity and economics
Biodiversity and agriculture
Biodiversity and health
Biodiversity and forests
They touched the following points in their presentation and Discussions:
- The spread and depth of the NBTs.
- How were the NBTs derived – baseline information and background?
- How to increase the ownership of the Targets from all stakeholders.
- The role of the media in supporting to realise the Targets. The idea of the media workshops – held in New Delhi and Chennai on 7 June and 14 June 2016 respectively – was to bring together journalists, experts and biodiversity managers. The experts interacted with the journalists and articulated how biodiversity conservation can be mainstreamed in their area of expertise. With an improved understanding of biodiversity conservation, the workshop also helped journalists to mainstream the concept of biodiversity conservation into their reporting.
The four topics discussed at the workshop helped focus attention on critical aspects of the National Biodiversity Targets and the National Biodiversity Act.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report of 2005 listed the ecological services from biological diversity. They are:
Nutrient cycling, Soil formation, Primary production
Food, Fresh water, Wood and fiber, Fuel
Climate regulation, Flood regulation, Disease regulation, Water purification
Aesthetic, Spiritual, Educational, Recreational
Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Indian Media Space
For generating mass awareness on the National Biodiversity Targets and the National Biodiveristy Act urging biodiversity conservation among people, the segment which can influence and raise such awareness in large numbers and simultaneously impact the maximum number of people, most effectively and reach far flung areas is the media. Communication professionals are well aware of the power of the media to impact people with the style in which they cover news and the placement it is given on the pages or on the television time slots. The workshop intend to use this power to talk about biodiversity with the media in an intensely comprehensive manner. In the session on “Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Indian Media Space, well-known and respected national editors from the print and television media interacted with journalists on how the concept of biodiversity can be mainstreamed into media reporting.