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Romanticising Biodiversity, Balakrishna Pisupati

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We have just completed twenty-five years of adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that was born out of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit (UN Conference on Environment and Development), along with two other Conventions, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

The milestone passed silently with muted voices on the need to conserve biological diversity and ecosystems that harbour such diversity. Millions of dollars are being spent on increasing the profile and attention on biological diversity with thirteen meetings of Conference of Parties to the CBD since 1992. Tons of paper and hundreds of thousands of man-hours were used by the contracting parties to CBD to rein in national, regional and global actions on conservation, sustainable use and access to resources and benefit sharing (the three objectives of the CBD).

We are now left with less than 30 months to achieve the global biodiversity targets adopted by 194 countries in 2010 at Nagoya, Japan. The progress being made is still patchy, not so inspiring with indications that several targets will remain unachieved by 2020.

As someone who started following the CBD since its inception (and having had the unique opportunity of attending all the thirteen governing body meetings – COPs – held thus far), I have the following questions that remain unanswered and observations that remain worrisome.

Both UNFCCC and CBD are Rio Conventions, born out of the same meeting, negotiated by the same governments and presided over by the same Ministries (mostly Ministries of Environment, Forests). If so, why does CBD receive the differential treatment?

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