As a mark of its commitment to biodiversity conservation, India will host the eleventh Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in October 2012. Called ‘Rio + 20’ CBD Conference, the COP, to be held in New Delhi, will also commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit, held in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro.
“CBD is one of the key agreements adopted during the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, addressing all aspects related to biodiversity. While reaffirming sovereign rights of nations over their biological resources, CBD establishes three main goals — the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources,” Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh said, while issuing a statement on biodiversity conservation here today.
The tenth COP to the CBD is scheduled to be held in Nagoya, Japan, in October this year. This meeting will discuss the adoption of an international protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS).
The UN has declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. On the ABS protocol, Ramesh added that this special protocol to CBD was what the Kyoto Protocol was to climate change. “However, the developing countries want a single legally binding treaty, while the developed countries are resisting the ABS protocol,” he added.
Regarding India’s actions to combat biopiracy, the statement said, at the national level, India had been taking a number of proactive measures related to biodiversity conservation.
India is one of the first few countries in the world to enact a national legislation, called the Biological Diversity Act in 2002, which contains provisions for access and benefit sharing. A National Biodiversity Authority was set up at Chennai in 2003.
Moreover, India has created a database of traditional knowledge — called the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library — which is a computerised database of documented information available in published texts of the Indian systems of medicine.
The ministry is planning to set up a People’s Register of Biodiversity, so that traditional knowledge, which is not in texts but is passed down through the oral tradition can also be documented and protected. “We are seeking inputs from civil society groups to ensure that the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, is implemented in a manner that upholds the spirit of conservation and community control, prior to the grant of access,” Ramesh added.