Developed countries agree to double biodiversity aid
22 October 2012
Developed countries early Saturday morning agreed to double financial aid to help conserve and sustain biodiversity on the planet, vital for the survival of human beings.
Delegates at the Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agreed to double the total biodiversity-related funding by 2015 and at least maintain the doubled sum till 2020. No figures were mentioned.
Adoption of the document, ‘Review of Implementation of the Strategy for Resource Mobilization, including establishment of targets’, marked the culmination of hours of hectic negotiations that saw the developed world and the developing world pitted against each other once again on an international forum.
In return for financial aid, at least 75% of the developing world should include biodiversity among their national priorities by 2015 and allocate domestic financial resources towards their biodiversity conservation plans.
Priority would be given to least-developed countries, small island states, and economies in transition, while allocating financial aid. Developing countries will also have to their report domestic expenditure on biodiversity, funding needs, and demonstrate gaps and priorities in their national biodiversity plans by 2015.
“It is a good compromise,” Geoffrey M. Wahungu, director general of the National Environment Management Authority in Kenya, said soon after the negotiations ended late on Friday night.
Developed countries led by the European Union and Canada were pitched against the developing countries led by Brazil, China and Argentina, delegates emerging from the meeting earlier said. Developed countries were more prudent with their money in the wake of the global economic crisis and wanted to extract firm commitments from the developing nations before agreeing to increase their contribution.
Environment ministers and their deputies from 77 countries took part in the negotiations at a high-level segment from 16-19 October.
“Very difficult negotiations took place over long hours,” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, executive secretary of the CBD. About 193 countries are signatories to the CBD.
The funding would be crucial in helping countries achieve what are known as “Aichi targets” by the year 2020.
The targets, 20 in all, address strategic goals such as reducing the rate of loss of natural habitats by half, conserving 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10% of marine and coastal areas, and restoration of biodiversity by up to 15%, among others. They were adopted at the previous meeting in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan. The United Nations (UN) declared 2011-20 as the UN Decade on Biodiversity to support and promote implementation of the Aichi targets.
“I think the most important achievement of the conference is that we made it a goal to achieve the unfinished work that was done in Japan, which was resource mobilization, which was (a) very difficult target we set for ourselves,” environment and forests minister Jayanthi Natarajan told reporters at the conclusion of the plenary that adopted the crucial resource mobilization document apart from others on marine and coastal resources, health and biodiversity and protected areas.
“However, after intense negotiations and tremendous effort by the entire team and great cooperation from all the parties, we did manage to achieve that goal and parties have committed to a framework of resource mobilization,” Natarajan said in the early hours of Saturday, when the plenary ended.
Natarajan chaired the plenary as India assumed presidency of the CBD for the next two years. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently announced that India had ratified the Nagoya Protocol, becoming the seventh country to do so. The CBD needs at least 50 ratifications to make the Nagoya protocol legal. Only 91 countries have signed the document so far, an expression of their commitment towards ratification.
The Nagoya Protocol is a supplementary agreement to the CBD that provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
Canada told the plenary meeting it was disappointed with countries not reporting their biodiversity spend and their road map towards achieving biodiversity targets.
Despite “challenging but constructive negotiations”, the agreement reached today reflects an essential contribution to biodiversity, an unidentified European Union (EU) delegate said in his remarks to the closing plenary. “It is our common responsibility to meet the hopes of people and the international community,” he said. Canada and the EU did not block the adoption of the resolution.
The next meeting of parties to the convention will take place in South Korea in 2014, it was decided on Friday evening. Member-states agreed to mobilize resources for biodiversity and establish a transparent reporting procedure for countries among other objectives at its next meeting.
SOURCE: Live Mint and The Wall Street Journal
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