Biodiversity Conservation in India

Biodiversity supports ecosystem services including air quality, climate, water purification, pollination, and prevention of erosion. It indicates the health of our planet. Since the biodiversity affects every living being on this planet and to a great extent is influenced by the human activities, the responsibility to protect it must be a shared goal of all the nations and communities. In this context the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (signed in 1992) was inspired by the world community's growing commitment to sustainable development. It represents a dramatic step forward in the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

India was one of the early signatories to the UN CBD. Prior to CBD, the following were the legal provisions to conserves the Biodiversity.

  1. Indian Forest Act, 1927
  2. Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
  3. Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980

Subsequent to becoming a party to the CBD, India has taken the following steps towards maintenance of biodiversity.

India passed the Biological Diversity Act in the year 2002. The act mainly addresses access to genetic resources and associated knowledge by foreign individuals, institutions or companies, to ensure equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of these resources and knowledge to the country and the local communities. A National Biodiversity Authority was set up at Chennai on 1st October, 2003 as per the provision of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

 India approved National Environment Policy (NEP) in 2006, and drafted National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) in consonance with the NEP. The National Biodiversity Action Plan was approved in November 2008 to enhance natural resource base and its sustainable utilization.

In the recent past, India has taken the following steps in the direction of biodiversity conservation.

  1. India has recently ratified the Nagoya Protocol. The Nagoya Protocol would contribute to fair and equitable sharing of benefits accruing from utilization of genetic resources and would act as incentive to biodiversity-rich countries and their local communities to conserve and sustainably use their biodiversity.
  2. India hosted the 11th Conference of Parties (CoP-11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity. This is also the first such Conference since the launch of the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity in 2011.
  3. At the CoP-11, India has launched the Hyderabad Pledge and announced that our Government will earmark a sum of US$ 50 million during India’s presidency of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to strengthen the institutional mechanism for biodiversity conservation in India. India will use these funds to enhance the technical and human capabilities of our national and state-level mechanisms to attain the Convention on Biological Diversity objectives.
  4. Many development schemes have been realigned to provide biodiversity-related benefits for example the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme now aims to create legally mandated green jobs for every rural household.
  5. India has tried a unique approach for the protection of traditional knowledge by establishing a Traditional Knowledge Digital Library. This database has 34 million pages of information in five international languages in formats easily accessible by patent examiners. This Library promotes the objectives of the Nagoya Protocol on the issue of protection of codified traditional knowledge systems such as the Ayurveda. Since then, because of this database, over 1000 cases of bio-piracy have been identified and over 105 claims withdrawn or cancelled by patent offices.

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