PM pledges $50 million for biodiversity conservation as funding talks collapse

HYDERABAD (AP) -16-10-2012 - BL / REPORT: V. RISHI KUMAR :- Manmohan Singh , Prime Minister of India addressing the UN Conference on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad on Tuesday . --PHOTO: P_V_SIVAKUMAR   | Photo Credit: P_V_SIVAKUMAR

In a bid to kick-start the stalled process of raising global funds for biodiversity conservation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh committed $50 million (over Rs. 264 crore) for what he called the ‘Hyderabad Pledge’ as India takes over the two-year presidency of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

This sum would “strengthen the institutional mechanism for biodiversity conservation in India. We will use these funds to enhance the technical and human capabilities of our national and State mechanisms to attain CBD objectives,” Dr. Singh told delegates at the inauguration of the high-level segment of the U.N. summit on Tuesday. “We have also earmarked funds to promote similar capacity building in developing countries.”

Senior Environment Ministry officials said the funding for other countries would be to the tune of Rs. 50 crore.

“We will put the Hyderabad Pledge on the website, and invite other nations to add their contributions,” said Special Secretary M.F. Farooqui. “It was worked out with the CBD secretariat in the hope that we can use it as leverage for more global funding.”

“One of the most difficult tasks facing this conference is agreement on how to ensure the mobilisation of adequate investment for biodiversity,” said CBD executive secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias. “The launch of the Hyderabad Pledge...sets a strong example.”

Negotiations on funding targets collapsed on Monday night and are set to resume on Wednesday. Developed countries wanted to start with discussions on need assessment and accountability through a reporting framework. Frustrated developing countries, who feel that this is mere stalling, stressed the need to set interim targets, at least.

As the negotiations enter the final stretch, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan urged delegates to reach an agreement on interim investment commitments in order to “infuse confidence” and “generate momentum” for the implementation of the 2020 Aichi Targets on conservation.

Unless a decision is reached on funding, there will be no major success story for India to announce from Hyderabad, and the global community would have lost two more years in the drive for the 2020 targets. “This would be our collective failure,” said Ms. Natarajan.

Later in the evening, she released an expert panel’s report, which estimated that an annual investment of somewhere between $150 billion and $ 440 billion would be needed to meet the Aichi targets.

At the inaugural, the Prime Minister also acknowledged need for a “happy compromise that will secure a future that provides ecological and economic space for each one of us,” a potentially significant statement at a time when environmental concerns are seen as hurdles to economic growth by a vocal industry lobby.

He emphasised need for “inclusive conservation” policies that would take into account the “GDP of the poor.” He highlighted the Forest Rights Act, which gives legal sanctity to the rights of forest dwellers — “often the best friends of the biodiversity in the forests” — and said a similar approach would be adopted to protect the livelihoods of fishermen and marine biodiversity.

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