India on December 29, 2018 submitted its Sixth National Report (NR6) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The report was submitted online to the CBD Secretariat by Union Environment Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan during the inaugural session of the 13th National Meeting of the State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs), which was organised by the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), New Delhi.
The Minister also released the document ‘Progress on India’s National Biodiversity Targets: A Preview’ on the occasion.
• India is among the first five countries in the world, the first in Asia and the first among the biodiversity-rich megadiverse countries to have submitted NR6 to the CBD Secretariat.
• The submission of the national report is a mandatory obligation on parties to international treaties, including CBD. The parties were required to submit their NR6 by December 31, 2018.
• The NR6 provides an update on the progress in the achievement of 12 National Biodiversity Targets (NBT) developed under the convention process, in line with the 20 global Aichi biodiversity targets.
• The report highlights that while India has exceeded or overachieved two of the NBTs, it is on track to achieve eight NBTs and in respect of the remaining two NBTs also, India is striving to meet the targets by the stipulated time of 2020.
The Report: Key Points
While globally, biodiversity is facing increasing pressure on the account of habitat fragmentation and destruction, invasive alien species, pollution, climate change and overuse of resources, India is one of the few countries where forest cover is on the rise, with its forests teeming with wildlife.
India is also on track to achieve the biodiversity targets at the national level and is also contributing significantly towards the achievement of the global biodiversity targets.
With well over 20 percent of its total geographical area under biodiversity conservation, India has exceeded the terrestrial component of 17 percent of Aichi target 11 and 20 percent of corresponding NBT relating to areas under biodiversity management.
India has also made noteworthy achievement towards NBT relating to access and benefit sharing (ABS) by operationalising the Nagoya Protocol on ABS.
Having published the first internationally recognized certificate of compliance (IRCC) under the Protocol in 2015, India has since published nearly 75 per cent of the IRCCs published so far on ABS Clearing House.
Thus, with respect to NBTs 6 and 9, the progress made by India has exceeded the targets.
• India is a megadiverse country harbouring nearly 7-8 per cent of the globally recorded species while supporting 18 per cent of the global human population on a mere 2.4 per cent of the world’s land area. Biodiversity is an important thrust area in several programmes of the Government
• India’s quest for inclusive economic development while maintaining the integrity of its natural capital is being pursued through various programmes and strategies.
• Several measures have been adopted for sustainable management of agriculture, fisheries and forests, with a view to provide food and nutritional security to all without destroying the natural resource base while ensuring intergenerational environmental equity.
• Programmes are also in place to maintain genetic diversity of cultivated plants, farms livestock and their wild relatives, towards minimising genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.
• Further, mechanisms and enabling environment are being created for recognising and protecting the vast heritage of coded and oral traditional knowledge relating to biodiversity for larger human welfare while safeguarding the interests and rights of the local communities as creators and holders of this knowledge.
• India has also been investing a huge amount on biodiversity directly or indirectly through several development schemes of the Central and State Governments, to the tune of Rs 70,000 crores per annum as against the estimated annual requirement of nearly Rs 1, 09,000 crores.
• India has nearly two-thirds of the population of wild tigers in the world and their count has risen from 177 in 1968 to over 520 in 2015, while the number of elephants has risen from 12,000 in 1970s to 30,000 in 2015.
• The count of one-horned Indian Rhino, which was on the brink of extinction during the early 20th century, now stands at 2400.
• Further, while globally over 0.3 per cent of the total recorded species are critically endangered, in India only 0.08 per cent of the species recorded are in this category.
Acts/ Plans implemented by Government
Some of the acts enforced by the Indian Government for the protection of biodiversity include National Forest Policy 1988, National Environment Policy, 2006, Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, Biological Diversity Act, 2002, Environment (Protection Act), 1986, Forest Conservation Act, 1980, Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
Some of the plans implemented by the government for ecological restoration include National Afforestation Plan (NAP), Green India Mission (GIM), creation of Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) and Sacred Groves, India’s National Action Plan for Conservation of Migratory Birds and National Marine Fisheries Policy, 2017.