A major issue at Montreal will be the availability of finance and the mobilisation of resources toward implementing the Global Biodiversity Framework . Photo: UN Biodiversity/Flickr

15th Biodiversity COP kicks off in Canada, fate of the Global Biodiversity Framework hangs in balance

Government delegations have landed in Montreal, Canada for the 15th Conference of Parties under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15). This is the second instalment of the CBD COP15, which had to face multiple delays due to COVID-19, and follows the first instalment which was held in Kunming, China last year. While the first part saw parties adopt the Kunming Declaration, agreeing in effect to negotiate a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), what shape this framework will finally take has been left for delegations to thrash out at Montreal at the current session.

The GBF will replace the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set in 2010, which governments have been found to have woefully missed. The draft text for first ever such global framework, includes 22 action-oriented targets and four goals proposed for the current decade with a view to help humans “live in harmony” with nature by 2050. These targets range from pollution control, reducing the introduction of alien invasive species and the responsibilities of commercial interests towards protecting ecosystems. A pledge to protect 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030, commonly referred to as the 30 by 30 goal, is widely seen as the basis for the GBF.

A major issue at Montreal will be the availability of finance and the mobilisation of resources toward implementing the GBF. According to a report by the UN Environment Programme, Investments to protect the world’s ecosystems need to reach $384 billion a year by 2025 to guard them from the effects of climate change effectively. This is more than double the amount of investments currently ($154 billion). The report also found governments are spending $500 billion-$1 trillion a year on subsidies for fisheries, agriculture and fossil fuels, which could potentially damage biodiversity.

While the GBF is seen as an important step in accelerating conservation efforts, it has also been subject to criticism from activists for running the risk of mass evictions as well as being to slow a process considering the rapid rates ecosystem degradation and species loss

Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill adopted after passing Rajya Sabha

India’s WildLife (Protection) Amendment Bill, which was tabled for the winter session of Parliament, passed the upper house through a voice vote on Thursday. The bill, which is now set to become law, has caused trepidation among India’s conservationists who see the law as opening the gates for commercial development in India’s forests and protected areas.

Indian govt approves building temporary shacks, structures in coastal regulation zones 

India’s environment ministry allowed temporary shacks and structures to be built on beaches during non-monsoon months. It also allowed manual removal of sandbars across intertidal areas along coasts. The decisions were made keeping a tourism boost in mind, environmentalists said it is important to consider the fragility of coastal areas, especially amidst the growing climate crisis. The draft notification to bring in these amendments was issued by the environment ministry on November 1, 2021.

Vanuatu releases draft resolution at UN court seeking climate justice 

The Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu published a draft UN resolution requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding countries’ legal obligations regarding climate change. The country said 100 countries back its call to seek advice from the ICJ. The island nation is grappling with rising sea levels and powerful cyclones that are crippling its economy. While the ICJ’s orders are not legally binding, its opinions could strengthen climate lawsuits and negotiations undertaken by countries vulnerable to climate change. 

Adivasis at bottom rung of India’s development pyramid, finds Tribal Development Report 2022

India’s tribal communities are 8.6% of the country’s population as per the 2011 Census, but they are the least developed in the country as they have been pushed away from alluvial plains and fertile river basins, into the harshest ecological regions, according to a new report released November 28, 2022, DTE reported. 

The Tribal Development Report 2022, launched by the Bharat Rural Livelihood Foundation (BRLF), claims to be the first-of-its-kind since 1947. The report said of the 257 Scheduled Tribe districts, 230 (90%) are either forested or hilly or dry. But they account for 80% of India’s tribal population.

In 1988, the National Forest Policy, for the first time, explicitly recognised the domestic requirements of local people, according to the report. The policy emphasised safeguarding their customary rights and closely associating Adivasis in the protection of forests. But the movement towards a people-oriented perspective has not been matched by reality on the ground, DTE reported. 

Update land records to include FRA titles allotted, MoEF&CC directs states

The Centre directed states to record settlement rights in revenue and forest records within three months. Digital information on the record of rights (RoR) under The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, or FRA will also be integrated in the PARIVESH portal and other web GIS platforms of central and state government departments. The revenue and forest departments will prepare a final map of the forest land that was vested to communities under the FRA, DTE reported. 

Illegal mining in Aravallis: 38 fresh sites under scanner

According to a report by a National Green Tribunal (NGT) panel, FlRs related to illegal mining have revealed 38 additional sites—37 in Nuh and one in Gurugram—where the illegal activity has been reported in addition to 16 places highlighted by the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement. While according to a report  by a joint committee formed on the orders of the tribunal to look into instances of illegal mining in the once ecologically rich Aravalli mountain range, Reafforestation in the areas ravaged by extensive mining in the Aravallis in Haryana is likely to be “very difficult and highly cost-intensive” on account of slopes, poor soil depth and nutrient deficiency since mining removes the fertile topsoil.

Largest anti-ESG divestment: Florida pulls $2 trillion worth of assets from BlackRock

The US state of Florida is set to pull $2 billion worth of its assets from managed by BlackRock Inc. The state’s chief financial officer said Florida was opposed to the asset manager’s environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) policies. While the move is unlikely to create any major impact for the BlackRock, which holds $8 trillion in assets, it shows the increasing trend of the company’s falling popularity amongst Florida’s Republican leaders.