By Syed AkbarHyderabad, Oct 15: With the mission sustainability “the Aichi Targets (named after Japanese realm where new goals to conserve the biodiversity were set two years ago) are aimed at addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, reducing the direct pressure on it and improving the status by safeguarding ecosystems, species and the genetic diversity. Aichi Biodiversity Target 1 has set that by 2020, at the latest, make people aware of the value of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.
India is hosting the sixth meeting of the Conference of Parties serving as the meeting to the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety (MoP-6) and eleventh meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP-11) to Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at Hyderabad from 8-19 October 2012. This occasion calls for galvanising public attention on biodiversity and related issues in the country. Keeping Aichi Biodiversity Target 1 and COP 11 in view, CMS Environment conducted a study to understand the level of awareness, attitude and practices of the general public on biodiversity, its interlinkages and COP -11.
The study was conducted from Aug – Sep 2012 to gauge the level of knowledge and understanding among people of India about biodiversity, its importance, relevance and impact of losing it at accelerating rate. This study included an assessment of information levels regarding India hosting COP 11 to CBD in Hyderabad. The survey was done in 10 cities i.e. Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Deogarh, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Patna. In all, 2591 people (937 females and 1654 males) through random sampling were interviewed. Nearly 51% respondents were between the age group of 18-30 years and 22% respondents were less than 18 years of age. 49% respondents were graduate and above.
- The appropriate understanding about biodiversity was found in only 23% of the respondents. For them biodiversity means “diversity in life forms within plants and animals ecosystem or entire planet”. Among the respondents who understand meaning of biodiversity 57% were male respondents and 43% female. Rest of the respondents thought biodiversity is loss of species (35%) or it is related to the planets in the solar system (18%) or environment pollution (22%).
- Among the respondents who had knowledge on COP – 11, about 53% respondents got information about COP – 11 through Newspaper and Magazines. TV and radio were also important source of information for 25% of the respondents.
- Overall, 53% respondents understand the importance of biodiversity for ensuring natural sustainability for all life forms. While 22% felt that biodiversity is important for conserving resources for future. Approx 15% opined that biodiversity is vital for providing variety of food, water and medicinal herbs. For 10% respondents’ biodiversity is important because it provides tourism and pollution free environment.
- Majority (more than 90%) feels that India is losing biodiversity at accelerating rate. This included 64% male and 36% female respondents with this opinion.
- Over exploitation of natural resources as main factor of losing biodiversity: Nearly 39% of the people believed that loss of biodiversity is because of over exploitation of the natural resources. About 24% felt that it is because of species habitat destruction. Approx 22% people considered pollution as the main factor for biodiversity loss and 15% attribute it to the climate change.
- Only 50% respondents could explain the impact of loosing biodiversity or that it could cause environmental change. Another 25% were worried that the biodiversity loss can impact resources availability for the future generation. About 12% stated that nature can create alternative resources and balance biodiversity on its own.
- Overall, 83% of the respondents are in favour of conserving biodiversity. About 36% female and 64% male respondents feel the need for conservation.
In COP – 11, the deliberations are on conservation of biodiversity, access & benefit sharing and its sustainable use. On the other hand the low understanding of people on the value, importance and linkages about the diversity of life on our planet is of equal concern. Number of respondents in this study urged government and civil societies to make biodiversity conservation people’s agenda and engage them proactively to achieve greater degree of recognition to biodiversity related issues. The study strongly recommends biodiversity related issues in formal and informal education system, intense media campaigns, mobilisation strategies and opportunities for people to contribute & volunteers for conserving the biodiversity. Significantly, 87% of the study respondents were willing to be actively involved for biodiversity conservation, if given opportunity.
With the goal of achieving Aichi target no 1 which is base all other Aichi targets, the study calls for individual and collective action towards addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.