Saturday, 27 October 2012

COP 11 on Biological Diversity: Look beyond Hyderabad Summit

By Syed Akbar

The success of the United Nations summit on biological diversity,
which concluded in Hyderabad last week, testifies to India's ingenuity
as a leader-nation, backed by 5000-year-old civilization that sees
divinity in Nature. It was one of the biggest politico-scientific
events in the world, and India has successfully brought 175
negotiating nations towards consensus on contentious issues like
protection of life in the oceans, funding from developed nations to
developing states, and linking livelihoods to protection of plants and
animals.

India also played a key role in convincing developed and polluting
nations to double their financial contribution, though it kept
everybody guessing on its strategy till the eleventh hour, on
mobilization of resources to meet the targets fixed two years ago at a
similar event in Nagoya, Japan. The targets, named after Aichi, a
locality in Nagoya, are to be met by 2020, and India, as the new Chair
will guide the world nations in the next 24 months in achieving some
of them.

The task for India however is not over yet. Though it has played the
much-needed leadership role successfully on the world forum, it needs
to do a lot on the home turf. India, with all its varied and unique
life forms, is a mega diversity nation. This makes the task even more
challenging. All is not well with the biological diversity in the
country and its exclusive economic zone extending into the Indian
Ocean. Statistically India may have presented a rosy picture to the
world outside. But on the ground level, the protection and
conservation strategies and laws are far from complete.

The health of India’s forests and its vast water bodies is fast
deteriorating. Poaching goes on unchecked in the wild, while the
rivers and seas are overexploited and polluted. The population of big
cats is fast dwindling. The country has also failed to insulate itself
from bio-pirates, who smuggle out the germplasm of India’s indigenous
flora and fauna. India’s success on the bio-piracy front at the world
forum has been limited, though it could win the neem and turmeric
patent cases. India’s forests are the source of hidden biological
treasure. Every year dozens of new plants and animals are discovered,
and many of them brim with medical, genetic and economic resources.

We have enough laws to protect our biodiversity. We, however, lack in
their implementation. Our civilization has evolved in the last five
millennia on the fulcrum of this major Vedic principle, “prakruti
rakshati rakshitaha” (Nature protects if she is protected).
Incidentally, this was the slogan of the Hyderabad summit. We should
stop basking in the glory of our success at the summit. It is high
time we looked beyond Hyderabad and set right our forests, rivers and
seas. For, in their well being alone lies human happiness and
survival.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

COP 11 biological diversity: UN Biodiversity talks move forward but nature needs more - nternational Union for Conservation of Nature


By Syed Akbar
 Hyderabad:  Despite good progress towards achieving the 2020 targets to halt the loss of biodiversity, efforts to conserve nature must be urgently scaled up if we want to meet the 2020 deadline to save all life on earth - says IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

The UN Biodiversity talks closing today in Hyderabad, India, saw an overall consensus on the urgent need for more and better managed funds to reach the targets but countries have failed to agree on the exact amount needed to ensure their successful implementation.

The lack of clear agreement on public funds required to conserve biodiversity and save the natural world highlights the need for innovative ways to seek support from other sources,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. “We’ve seen good progress towards achieving the targets we set two years ago. These efforts now need to be urgently scaled up with adequate funding from all sources if we want to avoid failure.

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity met in Hyderabad to evaluate progress towards the implementation of decisions taken at the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit in 2010, including the 2020 Aichi Targets to save and restore nature. The meeting saw examples of concrete conservation action and a strong focus on turning the decisions taken in Nagoya into action on the ground.

Some key issues have been agreed in Hyderabad, such as the recognition of marine ecologically and biologically significant areas, including those in the international waters, which should largely increase their chances to be protected under international law.  

“This is good but it’s not enough,” says Jane Smart, Global Director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group. “If we want to respond to the growing biodiversity crisis, we need more concrete action. We must engage with all levels of society, including the private sector, and look into conserving all levels of biological diversity: the diversity of genes, species and ecosystems. Two years into the International Decade of Biodiversity, this is now more urgent than ever.”

According to the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ released during the meeting, 20,219 of the 65,518 species listed are threatened with extinction, including 83% of Madagascar’s palms, putting the livelihoods of many people at risk.

Addressing the ministers gathered in Hyderabad, IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng highlighted the need for new sources of funds to conserve nature, such as the private sector, and stressed the importance of including the protection of the natural environment in national development policies.

The government of India has done a fantastic job in organizing this meeting,” said President Zhang Xinsheng. “In two year’s time we’ll be looking at a mid-point towards the 2020 deadline to save the natural environment. We look forward to working with the government of South Korea to make sure that at the next meeting of the Convention, we see more positive progress. We’re up against a crisis that’s threatening all life on earth - we cannot afford to lose this race.

COP 11 biological diversity: World's biggest biodiversity event comes to end - India plays its leadership role quite well


By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 20: The world’s governments have agreed to increase funding in support of actions to halt the rate of loss of biodiversity at the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which ended today. 

Developed countries agreed to double funding to support efforts in developing states towards meeting the internationally-agreed Biodiversity Targets, and the main goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

The Saragasso Sea, the Tonga archipelago and key corals sites off the coast of Brazil are among a range of marine areas to receive special attention by governments as part of renewed efforts to sustainably manage the world's oceans agreed in Hyderabad. Many of the areas are beyond national jurisdictions and, as such, receive little or no protection at present.

Other key decisions taken at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 11) include new measures to factor biodiversity into environmental impact assessments linked to infrastructure and other development projects in marine and coastal areas.

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity said: “These results, coming in a period of economic crisis, demonstrate that the world is committed to implementing the CBD.  We see that governments are moving forward in implementation and seeing biodiversity as an opportunity to be realized more than a problem to be solved.”

“We now need to move forward in the next two years, under the able leadership of India, the COP 11 president, to consolidate this work and to advance further.  I look forward to other pledges in support of the Hyderabad call for Biodiversity Champions that will allow us to realize our goals” he said.

Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, minister of Environment and Forests for India, and president of the COP said: “The present economic crisis should not deter us, but on the contrary encourage us to invest more towards amelioration of the natural capital for ensuring uninterrupted ecosystem services, on which all life on earth depends."

"The UN biodiversity conference in Hyderabad has taken forward the renewed momentum, forged two years ago in Nagoya," said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner. 

"Countries have sent a clear signal and delivered additional commitments underlining the fact that biodiversity and ecosystems are a development priority and central to a transition to an inclusive Green Economy," added Mr. Steiner.

"Mobilizing the necessary financial resources from the public and private sector needed to ensure achievement of the 2020 targets remains a challenge - but here in India, many nations including developing economies have signalled their determination and sense of urgency to seize the opportunities by providing much needed additional support,” said Mr. Steiner.

Agreements on Funding

Developed countries agreed at the conference to increase funding to support efforts in developing states towards meeting the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. 

Using a baseline figure of the average annual national spending on biodiversity between 2006 and 2010, developed countries said they would double biodiversity-related international financial flows by 2015. The COP also set targets to increase the number of countries that have included biodiversity in their national development plans, and prepared national financial plans for biodiversity, by 2015.

All Parties agreed to substantially increase domestic expenditures for biodiversity protection over the same period.

These targets, and progress towards them, will be reviewed in 2014.

For the first time, developing countries at COP 11, including India and several African states, pledged additional funds above and beyond their core funding towards the work of the CBD.

The conference also saw the launch of the Hyderabad Call for Biodiversity Champions.  The programme will accept pledges from governments and organizations in support of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. The government of India this week  committed over US$ 50 million as part of the programme.

The Global Environment Facility, the financial mechanism of the Convention, for the first time, was provided with an assessment of the financial resources required to meet the needs of developing countries for implementing the Convention.

Marine Biodiversity

The 193 Parties to the CBD agreed to classify a diverse list of marine areas, some renowned for containing ‘hidden treasures’ of the plant and animal world, as ecologically or biologically significant.

Earlier this week, UNEP launched its Protected Planet 2012 report which found that half of the world's richest biodiversity zones remain entirely unprotected - despite a 60 per cent increase in the number of protected areas since 1990.

To meet the Aichi Biodiversity Target of ensuring that 10 per cent of marine areas are protected by 2020, says the UNEP report, an additional 8 million square kilometres of marine and coastal areas would need to be recognized as protected - an area just over the size of Australia.

COP agreed to transmit the results of this classification work to the United Nations General Assembly so that they can be considered by relevant UN processes linked to the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, in particular the United Nations General Assembly Working Group which is considering the development of an international agreement for biodiversity conservation in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Parties to the Convention also called for more research into the potential adverse effects of underwater noise from ships on marine and coastal biodiversity, and highlighted the growing concern on the adverse effects of marine litter. It also recognized the growing challenge of climate change impacts on coral reefs, which, Parties agreed, will require significant investment to overcome.

There was also a call to fisheries management bodies to play a stronger role in addressing the impacts of fisheries on biodiversity.

The series of agreements at COP 11 on oceans and coasts builds on the commitment of countries made at the United Nations Rio+20 summit in June to protect and restore marine ecosystems and to maintain their biodiversity.

National Biodiversity Plans

Much of the COP 11 negotiations revolved around practical and financial support for countries in implementing national biodiversity plans to meet the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

In reviewing global progress in implementing such measures, the COP reaffirmed the need for enhanced technical and scientific cooperation among countries, while underlining the potential for enhanced cooperation among developing countries. To support such efforts, a new National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans Forum (NBSAP Forum) was launch at COP11 by UNEP, CBD, The Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). The online forum provides easy-to-access, targeted information such as best practices, guidelines and learning tools for countries.

UNEP’s Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) Initiative also presented a series of practical guides for governments at COP 11 for integrating the economic, social and cultural value of ecosystems into national biodiversity plans. 

COP 11 also agreed to a number of measures to engage the main economic sectors, such as business and development organizations, to integrate biodiversity objectives in their plans and programmes.

COP 11 developed new work in support of achieving Aichi Target 15 which calls for the restoration of 15% of degraded lands.  This work was supported by a call, in the margins of the meeting, by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and other bodies for concerted action in support of the decision.

A decision on climate change and biodiversity called for enhanced collaboration between the CBD and UN climate change initiatives including Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+)

Given that forests are home to more than half of all terrestrial species, initiatives such as REDD+, where developing countries can receive payments for carbon offsets for their standing forests, can potentially help achieve international biodiversity targets, as well as those concerned with cutting carbon emissions.

The decision covers technical advice on the conservation of forests, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

However the COP also noted discussions around the need for biodiversity safeguards relating to REDD+ and similar incentives. Actions such as afforestation in areas of high biodiversity value, or the conversion of natural forests to plantations, for example, may have adverse impacts on biodiversity.

The COP adopted recommendations for improving the sustainable use and management of species hunted for 'bushmeat' in tropical and sub-tropical regions, where large-scale hunting and trade of animals has led to 'empty forest syndrome',and is increasingly threatens food security, and the ecological stability of forests and other ecosystems. Together with FAO and other organizations, the CBD Secretariat will establish a global 'Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management' to support developing countries in the implementation of relevant CBD provisions.

COP 11 adopted a decision on protected areas that provides a framework for achieving Aichi target 11 . It calls for integration of national action plans for Protected Areas into revised National Biodiversity Strategies and action Plans.

A parallel summit of Cities and Local Authorities was convened with the support of ICLEI.  Participants adopted the Hyderabad Declaration on Subnational Governments, Cities and other Local Authorities for Biodiversity, which supports the work of cities to achieve the Global Strategy for Biodiversity and calls for greater coordination between levels of government.

Other COP 11 decisions:

The Conference welcomed the establishment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) earlier this year and recognized the potential contribution it could make to enhance the effectiveness of the Convention. COP requested IPBES to contribute to assessments of the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. It was decided that the Convention's Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice at its next meeting would provide additional explanatory information on the tasks requested from IPBES and that it would convey this information to IPBES before the its second plenary meeting at the end of 2013.

A decision on Article 8(j), relating to indigenous and local communities was adopted which provided a major component of work on customary sustainable use.  The decision also advanced three tasks that may contribute to the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol including Guidelines related to priori informed consent, mutually agreed terms and others.

Governments also provided guidance to the preparations for the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol and agreed that a third meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol will be needed in the upcoming two years.  It was further urged to complete a number of tasks in advance of entry into force in a timely manner.

COP 11 on Biological Diversity: Hyderabad Declaration calls for conservation of biological diversity and implementation of biosafety measures

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 20: Hyderabad has carved out a permanent place in the
world history of biodiversity with representatives of about 200
nations launching the Hyderabad Call and later adopting the Hyderabad
Declaration.

Both the Hyderabad Call and the Hyderabad Declaration play a key role
in the next eight years in shaping the national and international
policies on conservation of biological diversity and implementation of
biosafety measures to protect man, animal and plants on one hand and
Nature on the other.

The 11th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention
on Biological Diversity (CBD), which concluded here on Friday, brought
to the fore India ingenious capacity to lead the world. India will
lead the CBD for the next 24 months as the Chair of the COP 11.

The Hyderabad Call relates to Biodiversity Champions. The programme
will accept pledges from governments and organizations in support of
the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. India earlier this week committed
over US$ 50 million as part of the programme.

The Hyderabad Declaration was adopted during the parallel summit of
Cities and Local Authorities. It pertains to subnational governments,
cities and other local authorities for biodiversity and supports the
work of cities to achieve the Global Strategy for Biodiversity. It
also calls for greater coordination between levels of government.

Other key decisions include new measures to factor biodiversity into
environmental impact assessments linked to infrastructure and other
development projects in marine and coastal areas.

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention
on Biological Diversity said: “I look forward to other pledges in
support of the Hyderabad call for Biodiversity Champions that will
allow us to realize our goals.”

Jayanthi Natarajan, Union Minister of Environment and Forests, said,
“The present economic crisis should not deter us, but on the contrary
encourage us to invest more towards amelioration of the natural
capital for ensuring uninterrupted ecosystem services, on which all
life on earth depends."

The 193 Parties to the CBD agreed to classify a diverse list of marine
areas, some renowned for containing ‘hidden treasures’ of the plant
and animal world, as ecologically or biologically significant.
According to an UNEP report, half of the world's richest biodiversity
zones remain entirely unprotected - despite a 60 per cent increase in
the number of protected areas since 1990.

The countries also called for more research into the potential adverse
effects of underwater noise from ships on marine and coastal
biodiversity. There was also a call to fisheries management bodies to
play a stronger role in addressing the impacts of fisheries on
biodiversity.

It adopted recommendations for improving the sustainable use and
management of species hunted for 'bushmeat' in tropical and
sub-tropical regions, where large-scale hunting and trade of animals
has led to 'empty forest syndrome’, and is increasingly threatens food
security, and the ecological stability of forests and other
ecosystems.

Friday, 19 October 2012

COP 11 biological diversity: India's rivers are dying with decreased discharge into the sea

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  India’s rivers are dying with decreased discharge
into the sea. The reduced outflows into the sea have led to untold
damage to the fragile ecology and biodiversity of the Indian river
systems.

Environment experts attending the 11th Conference of Parties (COP) to
the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity warn that India
will lose its mega biodiversity tag if the river systems were not
restored immediately.

Himanshu Thakkar and Parineeta Dandekar of the South Asia Network on
Dams, Rivers and People and other activists point out that dams, both
big and small, had upset the life forms living in the fresh water
ecology. They quote the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute,
which says that there is 30 per cent reduction in nutrients reaching
the sea in the last 50 years. And this is attributed to the
obstruction of free flow of rivers in the form of dams.

“India is considered a mega diverse country in the context of
freshwater biodiversity. New freshwater species continue to be
discovered at a rapid rate. Also, millions of people depend on the
riverine biodiversity and rivers for their needs and livelihoods.
Hundreds of community conserved fish reserves exist across the
country,” they said adding that this riverine ecology is fast eroding
now.

Hundreds of small and mega dams are being built or proposed to be
built on nearly all rivers, blocking their free flow, tunneling their
waters almost through the entire length. It is destroying the fresh
water diversity, they said adding that the threats from hydropower
projects are so serious that “free flowing, biodiversity rich rivers
are today India’s most threatened species”.


“None of the conservation laws have been of much help for rivers and
related biodiversity. There has not been any credible
enviro-socio-cultural impact assessment of hydro-projects, considering
riverine biodiversity,” they pointed out.

Most of those impacted upstream and downstream, particularly if not in
direct submergence zone, are not even considered as areas affected or
project affected for compensation or rehabilitation, leave aside
participatory decision making or benefit sharing.

Sustainable Yogic Agriculture: Brahma Kumaris experiment with agriculture and meditation

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: What happens if yoga is combined with organic
farming? There will be increased yields, early sprouting of seeds and
greatest soil microbial population.

Sustainable Yogic Agriculture (SYA), which is adopted by hundreds of
farmers on experimental basis, is now a subject of research by two
leading agricultural universities. The SYA has generated considerable
interest at the ongoing COP 11 here with international delegates
discussing it at length. An exhibition on sustainable yogic
agriculture will be presented at the COP 11 on October 17. SYA
involves organic farming with meditation in the fields by farmers.

GB Pant University of Agriculture and SD Agricultural University have
conducted research on farm fields developed through sustainable yogic
agriculture. They compared the yields and other farm parameters with
those of chemical and organic farming. The concept is being promoted
by Brahma Kumaris.

There is not even a single instance of farmers committing suicide in
the last seven years of yogic farming. Thousands of farmers are
involved in this type of agriculture and all of them are happy, said
Br Vamsi of Brahma Kumaris, Hyderabad centre.

According to a document brought out by the Brahma Kumaris, preliminary
findings indicate that sustainable yogic farming has the greatest soil
microbial population and that seeds germinate up to a week earlier.
“Crops also reveal higher amounts of iron, energy, protein and
vitamins compared to organic and chemical farming, offering low cost
high benefit methods for local communities”.

Farmers are free from the heavy cost of fertilizers and pesticides.
Along with the earth, plants and animals, the human side of the
ecosystem is also benefited from the concept, he added. Meditative
practices designed for each phase of the agrarian cycle, from seed to
harvest, are positively affecting farmers and, by association, their
families and villagers.

In SYA, farmers practice meditation during the sowing of the seeds and
at frequent intervals in the farm fields as the crop gradually grows.
“It is an experiment of mental wave through meditation on the plant
and trees,” he added.

Through SYA, farmers are witnessing a return of biodiversity by
increased friendly insects and soil microbes along with other native
plants and animals. The cost benefits include greater crop yield for
farmers and higher return on sale because of the quality of the goods.

Mir Osman Ali Khan, Nizam VII of Hyderabad, the richest Indian of all time

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 16: On February 22, 1937, Time magazine featured Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last of Hyderabad’s Nizams, on its cover hailing him as the richest man in the world. Seventy-five years later the Nizam continues to figure in the list of the richest people ever lived on the globe.

And now, Celebrity Net Worth website, in its latest assessment of the world’s 24 richest people of all time, puts Mir Osman Ali Khan in the sixth slot. It also describes him as the richest Indian of all time. The website arrived at the richness of the former ruler of Hyderabad and others after adjusting inflation.


Time magazine had then put the net assets of the Nizam at two billion US dollars. When the amount is inflation-adjusted, he is now worth 236 billion US dollars.

The richness of Mir Osman Ali Khan can be gauged from the fact that he
used a diamond of the size of a hen’s egg as a paperweight on his
drawing table. Though he inherited much of his property from his
father, he added to the wealth in the form of revenue from coal
mining, land tax and gifts comprising diamonds and gold and silver
articles, often weighing several kilograms. One of the gifts was a
model of his throne cast in seven kgs of gold.

“The Nizam was quite rich. But he led a simple life. He was a
multi-linguist and great visionary. He spent 11 per cent of the budget
on education,” said Mir Kamaluddin Ali Khan, secretary of Mukarram Jah
Educational Trust.

Mir Osman Ali Khan had a personal collection of 350 kgs of diamonds,
mostly mined along the Krishna river valley. The Nizam Diamond at 277
carats was the world's third largest diamond.

To quote Time magazine (February 22, 1937): “India has no native state
so rich, potent and extensive as Hyderabad which is about the size of
the United Kingdom and there last week the Royal Family of the Asafia
Dynasty celebrated the Silver Jubilee of "The Richest Man in the
World," Lieut. General His Exalted Highness Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan,
the Nizam of Hyderabad & Berar”.

Apart from the numerous expensive gifts the Nizam received on the
silver jubilee of his ascension to the throne, he had a vast
collection of jewellery, which is now estimated several billion US
dollars.

Mir Osman Ali Khan had his own bank and currency and several thousand
hectares of real estate and sprawling palaces. During the Indo-Pak
war, he donated two lorry loads of gold coins to the Indian government.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

COP 11 biological diversity: Canada, UK given ‘Dodo Awards’ by Civil Society


Governments singled out on geo-engineering, biofuels and financing

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 17: The Dodo Bird is coming to Hyderabad, to give the Dodo Awards to those governments who have failed to evolve, and whose actions at the CBD are contributing to, rather than preventing, biodiversity loss.

And the Dodo Bird has spoken – the awards go to Canada and the UK. 

Canada is the clear leader, for breaching the moratorium on ocean fertilization and geo-engineering adopted by the CBD in 2008 and 2010, said Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group.  “Right in the middle of CBD negotiations, we discovered that Canada had "ignored" a huge ocean fertilization event that were recently carried out off their Pacific coast, in violation of two international conventions”, said Ribeiro. 

Helena Paul of EcoNexus said Canada was also chosen for their strong stance on biofuels.  "Canada insisted that the CBD is not a place to discuss food security, and so the impacts of biofuel expansion on food should not be considered”, she said.  Furthermore, “After asserting the biodiversity benefits of biofuels, Canada threatened that they would call for a deletion of text including socio-economic issues, and re-introduce other proposals if other governments proposed any further changes to the biofuels text”. 

The CBD Alliance, convenors of the Dodo Awards, also said that Canada was noted for their refusal to recognize the importance of the participation of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in the EBSA process, for trying to stop the CBD taking up Synthetic Biology as a new and emerging issue, and for blocking progress on financial commitments. 

The UK was the other winner of the Dodo Award.  “The UK is busy behind the scenes blocking attempts in the EU and the CBD to adopt a precautionary approach to synthetic biology, and establish or maintain moratoria”, said Helena Paul.   “The UK government hopes to become a leader in these technologies, primarily for the benefit of their own economy”.

“At the same time, the UK is busy commodifying biodiversity and the functions of ecosystems by developing biodiversity offsets, said Paul. “Offsets don’t reduce biodiversity loss. Instead, the idea is to ‘pay for your sins’ elsewhere. Does the UK hope that biodiversity offsets and other financial mechanisms will replace the financial commitments that industrialized countries urgently need to make to the global effort to stem biodiversity loss?  Many in the global South call this the ecological debt owed to them by developed countries”, she said. “It also seems that the UK hasn’t learned the lessons about market mechanisms from the recent and ongoing economic crisis.”

The Dodo Award winners were chosen by consensus within the CBD Alliance members.  Runners up included China, Brazil, and Paraguay.

Geoengineering

A huge commercial "ocean fertilization" project was recently carried out by a Canadian company using a Canadian ship and with Canadian personnel close to  Canada´s Pacific coast, breaching both the de facto moratorium on ocean fertilization and on geoengineering adopted by CBD in 2008 and 2010 as well as a moratorium and rules established under the IMO's London Convention on Dumping of Wastes at Sea. These moratoria were established, based on the precautionary principle, because of the grave potential impacts of geoengineering (climate manipulation) on biodiversity. The Canadian Government has yet to issue a statement about this large-scale and blatant violation and there are claims that government representatives were both involved and had prior knowledge of the scheme.

The dumping of 100 tonne of iron sulphate for geoengineering purposes  was carried out under the guise of a "salmon recovery project" by a company called Haida Salmon Recovery Corporation (HSRC)- created by Russ George. George, the former CEO of the bankrupt ocean fertilization company Planktos Inc. had previously tried to carry out  a similar commercial scheme near the Galapagos Islands and the Canary Islands and was stopped by governments who subsequently established  the CBD moratorium. In both this case and the previous case George had claimed his actions would generate carbon credits because the dumping of iron would generate a large plankton bloom which might sequester greenhouse gases. There is little evidence that ocean fertilization results in long term capture of carbon but there are significant concerns about the impact on marine biodiversity as well as atmospheric effects.

While global condemnation from scientists and civil society has been swift, Canada´s government, who have clear international responsibility for what occurred,  have been ambiguous and evasive on what they knew about this illegal experiment and do not appear to  have acted to stop it or subsequently  taken steps to enforce actions against the commercial company involved. In turn the CEO and chief scientist of HSRC have both told press that Canadian federal officials knew about the scheme and were collaborating with the company, providing funding through the National Research Council. Most of the individuals on board the dumping Ship appear to have been Canadian nationals and the ship itself is registered in Canada.

Certain genetic changes in Dravidian women make them more susceptible to breast cancer than their counterparts living in north India

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Certain genetic changes in Dravidian women make them
more susceptible to breast cancer than their counterparts living in
north India.

A team of researchers from the city-based Centre for Cellular and
Molecular Biology (CCMB) and the Central Drug Research Institute,
Lucknow, has observed that ethnic variations in some genes in
Dravidian women are linked to the increased incidence of breast cancer.

“Genetic polymorphisms are created by errors during DNA replication.
Polymorphisms exist in all populations at little or large frequency.
Therefore, the polymorphism might exist in a population with or
without influence on disease susceptibility. If we talk about why
these polymorphisms increased breast cancer risk in Dravidian women,
we have to stress on differences in the genetic make up between north
Indian and south Indian populations,” Dr Rituraj Konwar of CDRI told
this correspondent.

He said susceptibility to a disease is defined by thousands of
polymorphisms (variations) in the entire human genome and not by a
single polymorphism. Therefore, it is possible that the genetic risk
factors between north and south Indian populations are different. The
present study identifies one such factor for south Indian populations.

“South Indian women’s breast cancer risk may partly be explained by
TNF (tumour necrosis factor) polymorphisms. North Indian women may
have equal risk of breast cancer, but it is possible that the
underlying genetic risk factor is different,” Dr Rituraj pointed out.

The study identified one of the several possible genetic risk factors
for breast cancer. The risk with this polymorphism seems strong in the
south Indian population and it does not seem to affect breast cancer
risk in north Indian women. However, it needs to be stressed that this
does not suggest increased breast cancer risk in south Indian women,
he explained.

The overall risk of a disease is affected by several variations and
the risk due to a particular polymorphism may be aggravated or
alleviated by other polymorphisms in related or un-related genes. The
researchers recruited subjects from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and
Karnataka for the study.

COP 11 biological diversity: Climate change and global warming will result in the death of a number of plant and animal species, affecting the earth’s vast biological diversity. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) estimates that each degree rise in temperature will place an additional 10 per cent of species at increased risks of extinction

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Climate change and global warming will result in the
death of a number of plant and animal species, affecting the earth’s
vast biological diversity. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity
(CBD) estimates that each degree rise in temperature will place an
additional 10 per cent of species at increased risks of extinction

The CBD has also admitted that there is ample scientific evidence that
climate change affects biodiversity. Climate change, according to the
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, is likely to become the dominant
direct driver of biodiversity loss by the end of the century.

It is already forcing biodiversity to adapt through either changing
habitat, life cycles, or development of new physical traits. This, in
turn, will affect vital ecosystem services for all humans, such as air
and water purification, pollination and production of food,
decomposition and nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration.

“The average global temperature from 1850 to 2005 increased by about
0.76 degrees Celsius. A further increase of 1.4 degrees C to 5.8
degrees C is projected by 2100. The global mean sea level rose by 12
to 22 cm during the last 100 years,” a CBD fact sheet released at the
COP-11 here said.

Conservation of habitats reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses
released into the atmosphere and helps communities adapt to climate
change. Greenhouse gases act like the glass roof of a greenhouse by
trapping heat and warming the planet.

The CBD points out that levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
are rapidly increasing, warming the Earth’s surface and lower
atmosphere. Higher temperatures lead to climate change and damage to
biodiversity.

Biodiversity can also help reduce the effects of climate change.
Conserving healthy ecosystems can reduce the disastrous impacts of
climate change such as flooding and storm surges while genetic
resources can help people adapt to increased crop disease.
If we act now to reduce emissions and implement ecosystem-based
approaches to adaptation,

“We can address the risk of species extinctions and limit damage to
ecosystems. We can preserve intact habitats and reduce other threats
to biodiversity, especially those sensitive to climate change; improve
our understanding of the climate change-biodiversity relationship; and
view biodiversity as a solution to climate change,” it added.

COP 11 biological diversity: Biodiversity experts have strongly opposed the idea of a supranational world patent regime arguing that it would kill the local scientific talent and make government-funded research more expensive

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Biodiversity experts have strongly opposed the idea
of a supranational world patent regime arguing that it would kill the
local scientific talent and make government-funded research more
expensive.

“A universal world patent would not stimulate local inventors as they
seldom get to the global markets with their inventions. Publicly
funded research will become more expensive and badly affects advanced
developing countries and least developed ones,” point out biodiversity
researchers from Norway-based Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI).
India is an advanced developing country and supranational world patent
system will badly hit not only its mega diversity but also its
research activities.

The FNI has been collaborating with the Chennai-based Centre for
Biodiversity Policy and Law (CEBPOL). FNI researchers Morten Walloe
Tvedt, Kristin Rosendal, Regine Andersen and others have come out with
research studies, which warn that a universal world patent would be a
huge benefit for multinational companies seeking worldwide exclusive
monopolies.

According to an FNI fact sheet, extensive patenting of biological
material, genetic resources, biological processes and knowledge would
challenge the sovereign right to genetic resources. Global
harmonization of patent law can be expected to create further pressure
on the public domain of genetic resources and reduce the opportunity
of achieving a fair and equitable benefit sharing under the CBD. This
might in turn have potential to become an obstacle for conservation
and sustainable use of genetic resources and biological diversity.

A world patent or university patent describes an exclusive right
granted to one individual company or person by one centralized
institution, which at once becomes legally binding for all citizens in
all the countries subscribing to the system. It is enforceable upon
every private person and public institution globally.

Currently there is not one single coherent world patent system, but
rather a number of nation-specific systems tied together by
international harmonization and regional cooperation. “Further
harmonization of patent law would benefit the developed countries
whereas it would be an obstacle for advanced developing countries and
a hinder for the least developed ones. The world patent system is
likely to reduce the operating space for the CBD and thus challenge
conservation of biological diversity,” the FNI team warned.

COP 11 biological diversity: “Eat less meat and intensify agricultural production”. This is the voice of hundreds of people from across 25 nations. “Over-fishing should be phased out”

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: “Eat less meat and intensify agricultural
production”. This is the voice of hundreds of people from across 25
nations. “Over-fishing should be phased out”.

World Wide Views on Biodiversity conducted a democratic deliberation
on biodiversity as part of the COP-11 being held in the city. It
gathered citizen views on international biodiversity policy issues and
disseminated them to policymakers involved in the Convention of
Biological Diversity (CBD).

About 3,000 people from 25 countries emphasised the need to protect
biodiversity. The survey however revealed that most people have “some
knowledge” of biodiversity. Their views ranged from the need to
protect coral reefs as a shared responsibility to declaration of more
protected areas in the high seas.

Citizens think most people in the world are seriously affected by
biodiversity loss and more participants from developing countries than
developed think that their country is affected. Establishment of new
protected areas should be given higher priority than economic aims,
they feel.

COP 11 biological diversity: Experts now link increase in obesity and ill-health to loss of biological diversity. A well-conserved biodiversity will help human beings live healthy

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Experts now link increase in obesity and ill-health
to loss of biological diversity. A well-conserved biodiversity will
help human beings live healthy. Biodiversity and human health go hand
in hand and any messing up of the vast biological wealth will have
severe impact on the health of human beings.

As the number of crop varieties has shrunk in the past 50 years, with
90 per cent of the world’s calories coming from a dozen crops,
people’s diets have been simplified and nutritional diseases have
arisen in part as a result. Obesity and diabetes, as well as many
other emerging plagues such as mental health ailments, including
depression, can all in part be connected to biodiversity loss.

According to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity
(CBD), there will be unpredictable effects on the health of people and
animals, ranging from shortage of
nutritious food and medicines. The CBD, which is meeting over the 11th
Conference of Parties (COP), is debating the issue of health and
biodiversity.

“We rely on biodiversity to stay healthy. Biodiversity sustains our
food supply, is a source of medicines, and supports the provision of
clean air and fresh water while also contributing to economic
development, cultural and spiritual enrichment,” says a fact sheet
released by CBD.

The CBD further points out that as all people require freedom from
illness as well as social, emotional, physical, spiritual and cultural
well-being, “we cannot have healthy societies without biodiversity”.

Changes to biodiversity can have severe and unpredictable effects on
the health of all living things, including people. Clearing new land,
for example, can bring people into closer contact with wildlife that
may transmit their diseases to humans and promote the spread of
disease from humans to animals.

It may also reduce populations of predators that hold disease-carrying
organisms in check. In addition, clearing of land may bring about the
loss of plants and other organisms useful in medical research or that
may contain substances used as medicines.

“People in developing countries face particularly heavy health burdens
from a loss of biodiversity, with impacts on food supply and quality,
medicines, and cultural and religious values. It has been estimated
that about 80 per cent of the world’s population from developing
countries rely mainly on traditional medicines derived from plants and
that 25 per cent of prescriptions dispensed in United States
pharmacies contained plant extracts or active ingredients derived from
plants,” the CBD fact sheet said.

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Mother's Care

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Minnu The Cat & Her Kittens Brownie, Goldie & Blackie

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Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity