India has sought more public finance to protect its biodiversity and strongly opposed proposals to reduce subsidies on fertilisers and pesticides for the sake of biodiversity, asserting that the livelihood of hundreds of millions of farmers in the developing world depend on farming.
“Our agriculture … is the source of life, livelihoods and culture for hundreds of millions. Such essential support to vulnerable sections cannot be called subsidies and targeted for elimination,” Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said at the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal on Friday.
“A numerical global target for pesticide reduction is unnecessary and must be left to countries to decide,” Yadav said delivering India’s national statement at the convention.
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One of the proposals under debate at Montreal is a call for slashing harmful subsidies by at least $500 billion annually from the estimated $1.8 trillion. A part of the plan is a proposed reduction of subsidies on fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture, but many farming powerhouses such as Brazil and Argentina have opposed the plan.
This is part of a set of 23 global biodiversity protection targets that are being worked out as there are no global goals on the protection of nature and biodiversity after the expiry of Aichi biodiversity targets – a set of nature conservation goals created by the CBD- in 2020.
“The UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) had eight goals, the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) had 17 goals, the Aichi biodiversity targets had 20 and the Global Biodiversity Framework (being worked out at COP15) may have 23 targets. The increased expectations through these targets call for matching means of implementation, especially through public finance,” the minister said.
None of the Aichi targets have been met as the planet continues its trajectory towards what the experts say is the sixth mass extinction. There are currently more than one million species threatened with extinction as plants and animal species vanish at a rate 1000 times faster than the natural extinction rate.
Yadav said while there might be a need to rationalise some of the policies, biodiversity must be promoted through positive investment.
Brazil, India and Indonesia and a few other nations have reiterated their demand for “financial subsidies of at least $100 billion per year or one percent of world GDP until 2030.” This has been countered by the developed world, which said it was an unrealistic demand because such aid earmarked for biodiversity in 2020 amounted to $10 billion.
While the USA is not a party to the CBD, any financial settlement underlying the proposed agreement would depend a lot on what position the USA would take.
Of the 23 proposed targets, one known as “30 by 30” has grabbed more attention because of the support it received from 110 nations including the USA and Canada. This target envisages countries committing to protect 30 per cent of their land and sea territories by 2030.
Yadav, while arguing for better flow of international finance, said since climate was profoundly linked to biodiversity, the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities must equally apply to biodiversity.
“Nature is the victim of global warming, and its protective features can do little against unchecked temperature rise. Nature-based solutions to global warming and other environmental challenges are not an answer without resolute action by developed countries to measure up to their historical and current responsibilities,” he added.