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Negative impact of biodiversity loss will be exponential

M. Somasekhar
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Braulio F. de Souza Dias
Braulio F. de Souza Dias

“If we lose biodiversity, we will lose jobs, food, medicines, and our livelihood will be under threat. Unless the decline is halted, the negative impact on daily lives will grow exponentially,” says Braulio F. de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

From the common man to the big corporate, the future of our growth depends on conserving the variety and richness of biodiversity. Already large fishery areas in the north-west Atlantic have collapsed under the impact of loss of marine biodiversity and climate change, he states.

With alarm bells already ringing loud and clear, the CBD is all set to bring to the discussion table issues such as halting the depletion of biodiversity, resource mobilisation, firming up bio-safety protocols and getting stakeholders like industry to do their bit, at the upcoming global summit in Hyderabad for which it is all decked up.

In the background of financial crisis in many countries, the CBD faces a tough task to move ahead, especially as member-nations need to set targets and allocate funds. The 19-day jamboree, starting October 1 will see participation of 20 heads of nations and over a hundred environment and forest ministers. A total of 10,000 international delegates are expected to take part in the 11th Conference of Parties (CoP 11).

The summit will see a forward movement on the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety (adopted in 2000), especially updating of regulatory guidelines on LMOs (living modified organisms). The second major focus will be carrying forward the October 2010 Nagoya (Japan) agreement on a decade (2010-2020) strategy to achieve global biodiversity targets. Issues such as revising national strategies and setting realistic targets will come up, he told Business Line in a telephonic interview from Canada.

India role

India is among the mega biodiversity countries. It is rich both in traditional knowledge and diverse flora and fauna. The country has made good progress in nature conservation. It has had a national biodiversity authority for over 10 years. However, a number of species face the threat of extinction, including tiger and big vultures, Dias said.

The major drivers of biodiversity loss like demand for food and water, pollution, global warming impact are on the rise in countries like India and many developing countries.

In December 2011 at a meeting in Tokyo, a global platform for business and biodiversity was formed. Japan, Canada, the Netherlands from the developed countries and Brazil and South Africa from the developing world are active. India is not yet a member, but the world looks forward to industries from the country to play a more proactive role.

The objective of this group is to raise awareness about each business, how it impacts bio diversity and the need to integrate policies and biodiversity into its plans.

MNCs have started to become more responsive now. Earlier it was ‘green washing’ or lip service. All that is changing as realisation dawns that business will thrive only if we safeguard biodiversity. The CBD started engaging the private sector six years ago. There is more awareness among industry that access to credit as well as markets will become difficult as consumers get to know of the issues and start reacting, Dias felt.

There will be several fora where the private sector and governments will exchange views. There is a need to have voluntary commitments from industry, as also partnerships between private sector and governments to evolve sustainable development models. Similarly, access to credit, regulation, certification, reporting on social and environmental responsibilities of companies will be discussed, Dias said.

One of the useful fallouts of the summit held every four years is that the host country assumes Presidency for the following two years. It will be interesting to see the issues that India will bring forward.

Somasekhar.m@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 27, 2012)
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