Developed countries agreed to double the fund flow to developing countries by 2015, to halt the rate of loss of the planet’s biodiversity, at the Eleventh Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) here early on Saturday. India, which has assumed the Presidency of the CoP, managed to achieve a positive outcome, persuading richer countries that earlier had reservations, to agree on the funding level.
The announcement of the agreement came at 2 a.m. after over seven hours of intensive negotiations involving various country blocs, individual nations and Indian facilitators. Suspense was in the air as yawning, groggy-eyed country representatives huddled into rooms and, over endless cups of coffee, discussed the impact of the funding commitments they would have to make. After a round of applause that could be heard in the corridors of the HICC, the venue of the fortnight-long conference, they would emerge, only to slip into another room for yet another round of negotiations with their counterparts from other countries.
The CBD funding decision has adopted as its preliminary baseline the average of annual biodiversity funding for 2006-10, to calculate the doubling of total biodiversity-related international financial resource flow to developing countries, in particular the least developed countries and Small Island Developing States, as well as countries with economies in transition.
Such funds will help the countries achieve the Aichi Targets, a set of 20 specific goals set two years ago in Nagoya, Japan, to halt the rate of biodiversity loss and implement the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 of the CBD.
At the Hyderabad conference, targets were also set for a larger number of countries to include biodiversity in their national development plans and to prepare financial plans for conservation by 2015. National outlays for biodiversity protection would also be raised by all countries. The President of the CoP, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan said: “The present economic crisis should not deter us, but encourage us to invest more towards amelioration of the natural capital for ensuring uninterrupted ecosystem services on which all life on earth depends.”
Positive as the outcome was, some developed countries recorded statements at the closing Plenary, in which they expressed some apprehensions, although they supported the overall objective. Switzerland said the failure to identify robust baselines while calculating the augmented funding undermined the achievements of the previous CBD summit in Nagoya. Japan, which pointed out that it was the largest donor to the CBD, also voiced its concerns about the lack of a strong baseline, but said it respected the consensus that had been arrived at. The European Union said all its member-states stood behind the decision and they were committed to doubling the funds from a variety of sources. China noted that the decision to double fund-flow from developed countries was crucial to the achievement of all other targets, and expressed its disappointment at the statements made by some advanced countries.
Among the beneficiaries of enhanced funding would be Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas in the oceans, notably the Sargasso Sea, the Tonga archipelago and key corals sites off the coast of Brazil. At the next CoP to be held in Korea in 2014, the raising of funds to help countries eliminate, phase out, or reform subsidies that are harmful to biodiversity — such as use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture — would be taken up.
One of the other key decisions taken at the CoP was to include new measures to factor biodiversity into environmental impact assessments for infrastructure and other development projects in marine and coastal areas. The conference also put out the Hyderabad Call for Biodiversity Champions, under which governments and organisations pledge support. India is the first, with a commitment of $50 million announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on October 16.
Keywords: COP 11, Convention on Biological Diversity summit, CBD policies, Ecologically and Biologcally Significant marine areas, EBSA, ecosystems, Aichi targets, coastal biodiversity, marine biodiversity