Biodiversity laws and Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) provisions with particular reference to developing countries were disseminated to participants during a two-day advanced regional workshop on Biological Diversity that culminated at Tamil Nadu National Law University (TNNLU) on Sunday.
Sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) - Access and Benefit Sharing, the workshop organised by TNNLU in collaboration with National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, increased the knowledge and understanding of the objectives and obligations of Nagoya protocol among participants comprising professors, senior legal practitioners, Ph.D. candidates, research scholars and environmentalists.
The workshop was organised against the backdrop of India with a land area of only 2.4% of the world being home to 8.1% of 8.7 million species estimated to be in existence, and figuring among the 12 mega diversity countries.
Delivering a special address, Sairam Bhat, Professor of Law, National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, described nature as green gold for the economy, and elaborated on the support system provided by the United Nations Development Programme and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for handling chemical waste disposal.
Mr. Bhat discussed the salient findings of the Madhav Gadgil Report on the Western Ghats, with a parallel discussion on Karl Marx’s theories related to money, human resources, technology, and nature.
On the various imminent threats to the biological diversity of India, he said rapid conversion of forest land to commercial land, pollution from man-made activities, and climate change were the causes.
As regards trade and commerce related to biological resources, there was an imperative need for domestic application of international laws, he added.
Babu Rajendran, Professor and Head of Department of Environmental Biotechnology, Bharathidasan University, who also delivered a special address, observed that there were no borders for pollutants as they travelled through air or water and affected the local ecosystem. Guidelines must be framed with baseline data to tackle such issues.
T. Rabikumar, Indian Forest Services and former Secretary of National Biodiversity Authority, said the legislative framework was robust, and sought increased awareness for effective implementation of the law.
Kamala Sankaran, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu National Law University, Tiruchi, said the human rights approach emphasised upon recognition of collective rights over individual rights.
This line of thought was extended to the informal sector, through which the rights of forest workers and other stakeholders of the environment were recognised, she pointed out.
There was a total of eight sessions spanning over two days. They included the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, Biological Diversity Rules, 2004 and Access and Benefit Sharing Guidelines, 2014; Procedures for Applying and the Processing of Applications under the Biodiversity Act, 2002; Interdisciplinary Approach to Biodiversity: International and National Perspectives; and Challenges and Issues with respect to the Biodiversiy Act.
S.K. Balashanmugam, Assistant Professor of Law, TNNLU, handled a session on Dispute Resolution under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.