UN Biodiversity Summit

The United Nations Summit on Biodiversity was convened by the President of the General Assembly on 30 September 2020, at the level of Heads of State and Government under the theme of “Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development.”

  • The Summit highlighted the crisis facing humanity from the degradation of biodiversity and the urgent need to accelerate action on biodiversity for sustainable development.
  • It also provided an opportunity for Heads of State and Government and other leaders to raise ambition for the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2021.

Significance of the summit 

  • As we approach the end of the UN Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020, progress towards global biodiversity targets including those of the SDGs has been insufficient. While there are many local examples of success, biodiversity is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, with growing impacts on people and our planet.
  • Recent assessments by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) concluded that species extinction rates are tens to hundreds of times higher now than historical averages.
  • The Summit is an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and commitment to improve our relationship with nature, addressing the causes of change, and ensuring that biodiversity and the contributions it provides to all people are at the heart of sustainable development and the fight against climate change.

India at the UN Biodiversity Summit 

  • India has set an aim to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land, and achieve land-degradation neutrality by 2030.
  • With only 2.5% of Earth’s landmass, India has 8% of the world’s recorded biodiversity. During the course of last decade, India has enhanced the combined forest and tree cover by 15,000 square kilometres to reach nearly 25%.
  • India has operationalised a system for access and benefit-sharing provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity through a national network of 250,000 Biodiversity Management Committees across the country involving locals and 170,000 Peoples Biodiversity Registers for documentation of biodiversity.

About Convention on Biological Diversity 

  • Known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is an international legally binding treaty. The Convention has three main goals:
    • Conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity);
    • Sustainable use of its components; and
    • Fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources
  • In other words, its objective is to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. It is often seen as the key document regarding sustainable development.
  • The Convention was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993. 2010 was the International Year of Biodiversity.
  • The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity is the focal point for the International Year of Biodiversity. At the 2010 10th Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October in Nagoya, Japan, the Nagoya Protocol was adopted. The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way.
  • On 22 December 2010, the UN declared the period from 2011 to 2020 as the UN-Decade on Biodiversity. They, hence, followed a recommendation of the CBD signatories during COP10 at Nagoya in October 2010.
  • The convention recognised for the first time in international law that the conservation of biological diversity is “a common concern of humankind” and is an integral part of the development process.
  • The agreement covers all ecosystems, species, and genetic resources. It links traditional conservation efforts to the economic goal of using biological resources sustainably.
  • It sets principles for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources, notably those destined for commercial use.
  • It also covers the rapidly expanding field of biotechnology through its Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, addressing technology development and transfer, benefit-sharing and biosafety issues. Importantly, the Convention is legally binding; countries that join it (‘Parties’) are obliged to implement its provisions.