Dispatches from Pyeong Chang, South Korea
From Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 three legally binding agreements emerged i.e. United Nations Framework on Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention on Biological diversity (CBD), and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). UNFCCC is a well known and talked about agreement and framework. Annual event called Conference of Parties (COP) for the same is much awaited for. For the others we know very little, I here will delve on the processes of lesser known Convention on Biological diversity (CBD). Different countries, other constituencies like inter-governmental organizations, civil society groups, representatives of indigenous communities, youth have gathered in highly controversial for massive infrastructure construction in ecologically fragile zone still known very well venue for 2018 Winter Olympics- Pyeong Chang in South Korea. I’m there too and will be here till 18th October, 2014. With the help of Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) – a lot of us got financial support to attend the prestigious COP 12.
While the weather is very cold, everyone from official negotiators to civil society groups- young activists all seem to be very excited and warm. And it is quite impressive to see a balance of Global North and South especially in constituency of Youth which is very different from UNFCCC COPs. In Climate Change negotiations, there are more from Global North than South. The over-representation of North is absurd. At times many of the global north civil society groups have a tendency to hijack the agenda, while here in CBD the numbers are at par with each other.
At a very basic level the negotiations will include midterm review of Aichi Targets which countries have committed for the decade 2011-2020. We are in the October of 2014 and the performance against almost all vague targets is dismissal. Still there is hope. The optimism of achieving some desirable results by the end of 2020 was also reflected in the words of Malta Qwathekana, the CBD primary focal point from South Africa, during the interaction with the Global Youth Delegation. All the negotiations will be circling around provision of ‘adequate predictable resources’ for achieving the stated targets. That’s definitely not good news, as in past too- countries set ambitious targets for the decade 2001-2010 but failed to reach the desired outcomes because of ‘lack of adequate predictable resources’, hope is that we don’t miss another decade in the whirlpool of conflicts over resource mobilization.
During the present two weeks the Meeting of Parties (MOP-1) will begin for Nagoya Protocol focused on access and benefit sharing which was adopted in the year 2010. The Protocol will come in force this year and there will be wider discussion on it. Almost all countries have signed it, excluding three which includes United States of America. Many suggest that the process for Nagoya Protocol was more efficient and smoother as United States was not a party to it. There will be other aspects related to biological diversity which will also be looked into during the COP 12.
The high level meeting will start next week. Most important secretaries or environment ministers will be arriving at that time. While all this is going on, as one of the few Indians it makes me feel extremely sad and frustrated over the fact that India will and may play a spoil sport. The apathy of the new government on the issues of environment is very visible especially when the Indian leadership suggests ancient sciences as a mitigation strategy for climate change in United Nations General Assembly and picks up the same old lollypop of historical responsibility without realizing we have more to lose with the inaction. Most of the support mechanisms like Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2006), National Forest laws, Environment Impact Assessment under Environment Protection Act and others which India has stated for national implementation to achieve targets have now an endangered future. The new government is pushing for amendments to resolve the concerns of industry and that will make environment, nature pay a heavy price. While the world will be moving for greener future, we in India shall continue to follow the dirty model of so-called ‘development.’
Hoping for sanity to prevail! With the mixed feelings looking forward to the COP-12 on Convention of Biological Diversity which formally begins tomorrow.