Biodiversity Preservation Gains Momentum

The Convention on Biological Diversity (COP11) that concluded on Friday October 19, at the Indian city of Hyderabad had agreements made on all main topics under negotiation.  

COP11 addressed a wide range of topics on biodiversity preservation, including resource mobilization and protected areas. Among the agreements announced in the closing session at COP11 were:

There was agreement to incorporate the outcome document of Rio +20 (UN Conference on Sustainable Development) in the text of the decisions of the COP of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP11). 
This would include that poverty eradication, changes in consumption patterns, and production, protection and management of natural resources are the basic requirements for sustainable development.
 
International flows of resources devoted to biodiversity will double by 2015 and will at least maintain this level until 2020. By 2015, at least 75 percent of participating countries will have included biodiversity in their national development plans and priorities, and will have adopted measures to improve financing for the conservation and restoration of biodiversity.
 
 The final document encourages countries to continue funding activities that promote equality between men and women in initiatives to protect and restore biodiversity.
 
 The conference recognized the importance of protected areas in order to achieve several of the Aichi Targets, including target 11, which provides minimum limits of protected areas – land and sea – to each country by 2020.  The creation of protected areas will help further goals such as the recovery of fish stocks, endangered species and restoration of degraded areas.
 
An important agreement that may have bearing on India’s Maoist problem is the land inhabited by indigenous and local communities can be recognized as areas that contribute to the conservation of biological diversity. Working within the limits of their national legislation, countries will engage their indigenous and local communities in this process, seeking their participation and prior informed consent. Progress was also made regarding capacity-building for indigenous and local communities.
 
The Convention’s final documents invited companies to enhance their considerations of biodiversity and ecosystem services in their business activities.  These considerations are based, among others initiatives, on the recommendations of the study The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). Countries were also encouraged to incorporate the methodology and results of the TEEB nationally. 
 
 The Conference will send information on Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) to competent national authorities and the United Nations. The information is intended to support the adoption of adequate conservation measures by the competent authorities. Each country has sovereignty over the EBSAS located in national waters and the right to decide on implementation of conservation initiatives in those areas.
 
 The Convention drew attention to countries that implement measures to minimize the impacts of fishing activities on marine biodiversity. Guides were adopted to recommend activities that can minimize the impacts on marine biodiversity and marine spatial planning.
 
 The Conference kept a moratorium on geo-engineering experiments related to climate change, particularly fertilization of oceans. Decisions at the Convention require that these experiments be restricted to territorial waters and should be done on a small scale.
 
The Conference agreed on technical advice on the application of biodiversity related aspects of the safeguards adopted in the Cancún Agreements under the Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC). The Decision recognizes the contribution of REDD+ activities to biodiversity, while maintaining coherence between both conventions.
 
 It was decided that the Convention on Biological Diversity will continue to be held every two years. This framework will be maintained until 2020, when there will be new analysis on the frequency of meetings.
 
 
The final agreements made at COP11 could have been more ambitious, but the fact that this conference has facilitated significant progress toward long-term commitments on biodiversity preservation is a significant achievement towards biodiversity preservation. 
 
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalmujtaba@yahoo.com