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SECURING INDIA’S FUTURE

Citizens’ release of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

PRESS RELEASE                                                Hyderabad, October 4, 2005

 

HONOUR NBSAP, START POSITIVE ACTIONS

The NBSAP, National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan was a commitment of the Government of India to the international Convention of Biological Diversity. In order to fulfill this commitment, the Government of India and the UNDP started an ambitious activity for three years from 2000 till 2002covering the entire length and breadth of India. About 250,000 citizens including farmers, forest dwellers, fishers, scientists, academicians, students, youth groups and activists participated in the preparation of the plan.

This was probably the only national plan prepared by the citizens of this country within a framework provided by the Government. At the end of the entire exercise when the Plan was to be made public the bureaucracy got cold feet and sat over the plan.

After two years, and in spite of several attempts by citizens groups of this country, the bureaucracy has refused to release the plan. That a government which calls itself a government of AAM AADMI, and has passed a Right to Information Bill, refuses to make public a plan done by the AAM AADMI of this country is a travesty of justice.

In defiance of this extraordinary behaviour of the bureaucracy, citizens groups in general and the Technical and Policy Core Group which coordinated the entire process of preparing this report decided to release the report as the Citizens’ Release of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

Seven women farmers, Begari Sammamma, Moligeri Chandramma, Abbandi Saremma, Begari Ratnamma, Dandu Swaroopamma, Nadimdoddi Anjamma and Erupula Kamalamma from Medak District who cultivate, conserve and celebrate biodiversity released the Plan.

The NBSAP highlights the current situation of biodiversity in India and calls for action on various fronts such as:

  • Preparing a national land and water use plan
  • Creating or strengthening decentralised institutions of governance
  • Re-orienting development-related policies, laws, and schemes, to ensure that biodiversity and people’s livelihoods are secured;
  • ‘Ecoregional planning’
  • Strengthening the Environmental Impact Assessment procedure
  • Integrating biodiversity concerns through inter-sectoral and inter-departmental coordination at local, district, state, and national levels;
  • Expanding and strengthening the network of conservation sites for wild animals and plants
  • Conserving areas (“agrobiodiversity protected areas”) critical for indigenous crop and livestock diversity
  • Respecting, protecting, and building on traditional knowledge of biodiversity, including through community-led development of biodiversity knowledge registers, and innovative legal or other means of traditional knowledge rights that do not fall into the trap of privatised intellectual property rights like patents;
  • Strengthening and promoting community-level crop gene banks and seed banks;
  • Promoting indigenous, nutritionally-superior food crops such as coarse millets in the Public Distribution System, mid-day meal schemes, Food for Work programme, and other such public sector programmes;
  • Tackling a range of threats to biodiversity, including quiet but widespread ones like alien (exotic) invasive species, and climate change;
  • Facilitating sustainable, bio-resource based livelihoods
  • Estimating the full economic and social values of biodiversity, especially its role in ensuring water and climatic stability, soil productivity, and people’s livelihoods;
  • Increasing funding for conservation measures, including through innovative financial mechanisms such as a tax on industries that use biological resources
  • Facilitating and developing ecologically conscious consumer groups and markets,
  • Ensuring that decisions on genetically engineered or modified organisms (GMOs) are evaluated taking into account long term ecological and socio-economic studies by independent agencies, ensuring the participation of key stakeholders in decision-making and disclosure of information generated in evaluating biosafety.
  • Advocating the integration of biodiversity and livelihood issues specific to India, at all international forums, including environmental treaties, and economic agreements such as under WTO.

[p v satheesh]
Member, Technical Policy & Core Group, NBSAP