Environment and Sustainable Development, Convention on Biodiversity

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Convention on Biodiversity

  • Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in 1992 and entered into force on December 29,1993
  • There are 193 parties. Its secretariat is based in Montreal, Canada.
  • US has signed but not ratified the treaty.
  • It is an international legally-binding treaty with three main goals:
    • conservation of biodiversity
    • sustainable use of biodiversity
    • fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources
  • Its overall objective is to encourage actions which will lead to sustainable future
  • CBD covers biodiversity at all levels: ecosystems, species and genetic resources
  • It also covers biotechnology through the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
  • Its governing body is the Conference of Parties (COP) . They meet every two years
  • The Ecosystem Approach, an integrated strategy for the management of resources, is the framework for action under the Convention
  • Precautionary principle: it states that where there is threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such threat.
  • 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity.

COP-10 of CBD

  • Held at Nagoya, Japan in October 2010.
  • It achieved three inter-linked goals
    • Adoption of a new ten year strategic plan to save biodiversity
    • Resource mobilization strategy to increase official development assistance for biodiversity
    • A new international protocol on access to and sharing the benefits from the use of the genetic resources of the planet (Nagoya Protocol)
  • Japan Biodiversity Fund was established
  • COP-11 will take place in 2012 in India

Nagoya Protocol

  • Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from Their Utilization
  • The protocol creates a framework that balances access to genetic resources on the basis of prior informed consent and mutually agreed terms with a fair and equitable sharing
  • Expected to enter into force in 2012
  • The Strategic Plan of CBD, which aims to arrest biodiversity loss throughout the world by 2020, will be called the Aichi Target. < Aichi is the prefecture in which Nagoya is situated >

Aichi Target

  • The Strategic Plan of the CBD or the ‘Aichi Target’ adopted by the meeting include 20 headline targets, organised under five strategic goals that address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, reduce the pressures on biodiversity, safeguard biodiversity at all levels, enhance the benefits provided by biodiversity, and provide for capacity building.
  • The Aichi target will be the overarching framework on biodiversity not only for the biodiversity-related conventions, but for the entire UN system.
  • Some targets
    • 17 pc inland and 10 pc marine ecosystem
    • Conserving coral reefs
    • Restore 15 pc of degraded areas
    • Halve or bring to zero the rate of loss of natural habitats including forests
  • Target is that by 2020, at least 17 pc of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 pc of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem are conserved
  • The conservation is to be done through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.

Important Treaties

Important Treaties
TreatySigned/Into forceMajor Points
Aarhus Convention on Access to information for public participation in decision making and access to justice in environmental matters1998Aarhus is a Danish city

Adopted at the fourth ministerial conference in the ‘Environment for Europe’ process

Links environmental rights and human rights

India – No

Vienna Convention for the protection of Ozone layer1985/1988Does not include legally binding reduction goals for the use of CFCs

At Vienna Conference

Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone layer1987/1989It is a protocol to the Vienna Convention

“perhaps the single most successful international agreement” – Kofi Annan

196 states ratified

Includes CFCs, HCFCs

Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their disposal1989/1992Particularly to prevent waste transfer from Developed to LDCs

175 parties

Signed but not ratified: Afghanistan, Haiti, US

Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in international trade1998/2004Rotterdam is a city in Netherlands

Endosulfan is proposed to be added to the list

Stockholm Convention on persistence organic pollutants2001/2004173 parties
Bamako Convention1991/1998On the ban on the import into Africa and the Control of movement of Hazardous waste within Africa

Negotiated by 12 nations of Organisation of African Unity at Bamako, Mali

The CBD Framework
Cartagena Protocol on BiosafetySeeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern technology. The Protocol applies to the transboundary movement, transit, handling and use of all living modified organisms that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health
Nagoya Protocol
For Conservation
CITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Aka Washington Convention1973/1975Under IUCN. Trade in specimen should not threaten the survival of plants and animals. Only one species under it ′ Spix Macaw ′ has become extinct in the wild.
Convention on Migratory Species aka Bonn Convention1979/1983To conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species
Antarctic Treaty System1959/196112 original members. HQ: Buenos Aires. India joined in 1983. Sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and bans military activity there. First arms control treaty during the cold war.
International Whaling Commission1946Signed in Washington. Moratorium on whaling adopted in 1986. Following countries havnt adopted the moratorium: Norway, Iceland, Japan.
UN Convention to Combat Desertification1994 (on the basis of Agenda 21) /1996First and only internationally legally binding framework set up to address the problem of desertification.


2006: Int. Year of Deserts and Desertification.

Non-parties: Iraq, Montenegro, Vatican

Secretariat: Rome

Meetings: 1st – Rome 1997,9th – Buenos Aires, 2009

Treaties on Hazardous wastes: Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm (in chronological order)

Treaties on Ozone: Vienna, Montreal

Red List: Published by IUCN since 1963. Categories – 7 + 2. Extinct – Extinct in wild – Critically endangered – Endangered – Vulnerable – Near threatened – least concern – (data deficient) – (not evaluated)

Global Environmental Facility: is an independent financial organisation that provides grants to developing countries with economies in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change etc.

South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme: (SACEP) is an organisation established in 1982 by SA govts for protection of environment. Members: All SAARC members. SACEP is not a part of SAARC. HQ: Colombo

SAARC Forestry Centre: Bhutan

Perspectives on Sustainable Development

  • Bruntland Report (1983) was the first publication and recognition of the term ‘Sustainable Development’
    • “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of the future generation”
  • Three pillars of sustainable development (Bruntland)
    • Care and respect for People, Planet and Prosperity (Commercial Activities) < hence poverty alleviation, conservation and business development >
    • These three pillars are of equal importance
  • SD is about a value system. It is not a scientific formula.
  • Thinking beyond pure self-gratification to awareness that harm to one will eventually be harm to all.
  • Interconnectedness and interdependence of all things
  • All three pillars have equal importance. Focus on only one of them will unbalance the whole
  • SD is a necessity, not a luxury that we can afford to miss.

Questioning Development < too detailed; at times peripheral. Be choosy >

  • Current practices must change
  • Should shatter the ‘development’ myth. Simply economic growth will not create more jobs and more wealth for all.
  • Steady-state economics. Economic growth is measured in terms of how much we produce and consume, and what we destroy in the process need not be included in the calculations.
  • 20 % of the world consumes 80 % of its resources
  • According to UNDP, consumption of goods and services in 1997 was twice that in 1975 and six times more than in 1950.
  • An estimated 1 billion people still do not have the means to meet their basic needs.
  • Inequalities are increasing. The assets of world՚s three richest men are greater than the combined national product of 48 poorest countries.
  • Higher crime rates are associated with wider income gaps
  • Jobless growth.
  • Under-nutrition is still a huge problem among children

Economic Growth and Sustainability

  • Over-consumption has led to depletion of resources
  • Main environmental threats
    • Depletion of resources
    • Global warming
    • Expansion of waste arising from production and consumption
    • Population pressure
    • Pollution
    • Loss of biodiversity and extinction of species.
  • Green National Income Account
    • Conventional national income accounting does not capture the environmental degradation due to production and consumption
    • This omission leads to misrepresentation of improvements in social welfare
    • Since there is no market for many environmental resources, it is difficult to place monetary values on them
    • Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare: adjusts the national income to make an allowance for defensive spending (i.e.. . that incurred in cleaning up for pollution and other forms of environmental damage)
  • Economic Sustainability
    • Calls for reforms in the manner that we conduct our economic activity
    • Removing unfair trade barriers and subsidies that harm the environment
    • Upholding the polluter pays principle
    • Tax not on labour but on consumption < already there in the form of indirect taxes >
    • Pricing products in terms of value they have deducted from the common natural base
    • Increase resource productivity
  • Sustainable agriculture
    • Use of practices and methods to maintain/enhance the economic viability of agricultural production, natural resource base, and other ecosystems which are influenced by agricultural activities
    • Minimizing the adverse impact on the natural resources base
    • Flexible farming systems to manage the risks associated with climate and markets

Ecological Sustainability

Sustainable forest management:

  • ‘Forest Principle’ adopted at the 1992 Rio Summit
  • In 2007, GA adopted the Non Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests. The instrument is the first of its kind and is committed to promote SFM by bringing all stakeholders together
  • Ministerial Conference on Protection of Forests in Europe defined SFM as the attainment of balance between society՚s increasing demands for forest products and benefits, and the preservation of forest health and diversity.
  • Forest managers must assess and integrate a wide array of sometimes conflicting factors to produce sound forest plans
  • Ecosystems approach has been adopted by the CBD. The CBD definition of Ecosystems Approach is known as the Malawi Principles.
  • Ecosystems Approach is a strategy of management of land, water and living resources in a way that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. Focused on use of scientific methodologies for each level of biological organisation and their interaction.
  • SFM was recognised by the parties to CBD in 2004 to be a concrete means of applying the Ecosystems Approach to forest ecosystems

Objectives of SFM:

  • Maintain environmental stability through preservation of ecological balance that has been adversely affected due to the depletion of forest cover
  • Preserve the natural heritage of the country
  • Improve productivity of forests
  • Protecting through cooperation with local communities on the principle of Joint Forest Management


  • One of the 12 mega biodiversity countries of the world
  • National Forest Policy 1988 emphasizes environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance
  • Existing infrastructure for forest protection is inadequate
  • Surveys not carried out in many areas. Question of tribal rights
  • Protect from forest fires
  • Integrated Forest Protection Scheme:
  • 10th FYP. In all States and UTs
  • Formed by merger of two 9th FYP schemes: ‘Forest Fire Control and Management’ and ‘Bridging of Infrastructure Gaps in the Forestry Sector in the North Eastern Region and Sikkim’


  • Infrastructure development: survey and demarcation, strengthening the infrastructure for Forest Protection Division
  • Forest fire control and management

Implementing agencies:

  • Central Component: Forest Protection Division, MoEF; Forest Survey of India, Dehradun; Central institutions like Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (Dehradun) , IIFM (Bhopal) etc shall be involved
  • State Component: Forest dept of the concerned state/UT

Wetland Conservation Programme:

  • Wetlands are lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic system where the water table is usually near the water surface and land is covered by shallow water.
  • Essential as: control floods, water treatment, recharging of water sources, reduce sediments, check soil erosion, bulwark against encroachment by the sea, winter resort for birds and important for flora and fauna. They also provide a variety of resources
  • Ramsar Convention: mangroves, corals, estuaries, bays, creeks, flood plains, sea grasses, lakes etc included
  • A programme on conservation of wetlands was initiated in 1987 with the basic objective of identification of wetlands of national importance, assessment of wetland resources, promotion of R&D activities and formulation and implementation of management action plans
  • A steering committee in each state headed by the Chief Secretary consists of members from all departments related to the wetland conservation in the state. Successful model.
  • India is a member of the Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, 1971

Steps forward:

Make use of the traditional knowledge of the people living near the wetlands for its conservation along with the engineering solutions

Monitor the impact of implementation of management action plans

  • Wetlands of India under Ramsar Convention
Wetlands of India under Ramsar Convention
Ashtamudi WLKerala
Bhitarkanika MangrovesOrissa
Chilka LakeOrissa2nd largest in India: 116500 ha
Deepor BeelAssam
East Calcutta WLWB
Harike LakePunjab
Keoladeo National ParkRajasthan
Kolleru LakeAP
Loktak LakeManipur
Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird SanctuaryTN
Pong Dam LakeHP
Sambhar LakeRajasthan
Sasthamkotta LakeKerala
Vembanad-Kol WLKeralaLargest in India: 151250 ha
Wular LakeJ&K
ChandratalHP2nd Smallest: 49 ha
RenukaHPSmallest: 20 ha
Upper GangaUPTotal area of these 26 wetlands: 677131 ha
Hokarsar (Hokera)J&KKerala has the highest area under wetlands
Surinsar & MansarJ&KJ&K has the largest number of wetlands (4)
Gharana (2010)J&K

The Montreux Record. Sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance which are considered to have undergone, to be undergoing, or to be likely to undergo change in their ecological character brought about by human action may be placed on the Montreux Record and may benefit from the application of the Ramsar Advisory Mission and other forms of technical assistance. Keoladeo national park and Loktak Lake from India are included in the list

Changwon Declaration

The primary purpose of the “Changwon Declaration on human well-being and wetlands” , adopted by Resolution X. 3 of the recent meeting of the Conference of the Parties, “is to transmit key messages concerning wetland-related issues to the many stakeholders and decision-makers beyond the Ramsar community who are relevant to the conservation and wise use of wetlands, to inform their actions and decision-making”

Social Sustainability

  • Fairness in the access to and benefits from the Earth՚s resources
  • Impact of poverty on environment/Environment and poverty are related issues
  • Diverting resources to non-productive areas
  • Health and SD
    • Environment and public health are inter-related
  • Agenda 21 was adopted at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) [Earth Summit] in 1992
    • It also places particular emphasis on the need to take health considerations into account in planning for SD
  • Urbanisation
  • Need for holistic approach

Water and SD

  • Agriculture consumes nearly 70 pc of water consumption worldwide, industry -22 pc and household activities – 8 pc [WDR, 2010]
  • Geographical distribution of water: just nine countries account for 60 pc of all available freshwater supplies
  • Industrial use takes about 60 pc of water in rich countries and 10 pc in the rest.
  • Suggestions
    • Use of sea water
    • Judicial use of freshwater
    • Development of salt-resistant crops

SD in a globalising world

  • Globalisation is increasing the gap between the rich and the poor
  • It has to be steered so that it serves not only the commercial interests but social needs of development
  • Mechanisms to safeguard trade and livelihoods, especially in developing countries, must be evolved and negotiated to make globalisation an effective vehicle of SD
  • Industrialised countries must continue to assist the developing countries as well as promote trade
  • Environment and social causes must not be used selectively to erect trade barriers against developing countries

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