Every day is Biodiversity Day

WhatsApp Image 2022-05-28 at 7.09.02 AM

Novanita Sharma

22nd May is observed every year around the world as, ‘International day for biological diversity’, since 2000, when the UN General Assembly adopted 22nd May as the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), to commemorate the adoption of the text of the Convention on Biological Diversity on 22nd May 1992. IDB intends to increase understanding and awareness regarding biodiversity issues amongst all. The Convention on Biological diversity sets out the slogan ‘Building a shared future for all life’, for 2022. This slogan is in coherence to continue building momentum and support for the post 2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted by the UN Biodiversity conference (COP15). The post 2020 global framework envisage to convene governments from around the world to agree to a new set of goals for nature over the next decade through the COBD. The framework sets out a plan to implement broad-based action to bring about a transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity and ensure that, by 2050, the shared vision of living in harmony with nature is fulfilled. The framework is a fundamental contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as set by UNEP. The framework recognizes urgent policy action globally, regionally and nationally to transform economic, social and financial models so that the ongoing biodiversity loss can be stabilized in the next 10 years (by 2030) and allow the recovery of natural ecosystems in the following 20 years, leading to the Convention’s vision of ‘living in harmony with nature by 2050’. The framework acknowledges the need for appropriate recognition of gender equality, women’s empowerment, youth, gender-responsive approaches and the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in the implementation of this framework. A draft of the framework states its vision – A world of living in harmony with nature where: “By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.” The mission of the framework for the period up to 2030, towards the 2050 vision is: “To take urgent action across society to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetics resources, to put biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030 for the benefit of planet and people”. The above text intends to help us understand the philosophy, ideals and goals of IDB (International Day for Biological Diversity). Many sceptics would brush off these assertions as mere international calendar events, ritualistically carried on for past couple of decades globally which have created more noise than action. The world awaits to see the efficacy of these ambitious frameworks, which have worked well as constant reminders of our unfinished targets, putting question on our commitments in rescuing the planet from its prophesied ecological boil down. These reminders however have acted as powerful motivation for many changemakers who cared to make the difference through their meaningful actions to protect, preserve and save the natural world from devastation. This planet which is home to 8 billion human beings and countless other life forms deserves every possible effort to preserve its natural worlds and protect the delicate life supporting harmony of all living beings here. From the international mandates to the individual initiatives, every endeavour contributes to the cause of nature conservation. The world witnessed some unique regional/ national models of biodiversity conservation which gives hope to everyone. African countries like Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania inspires the world with their models of wildlife conservation. Botswana ranks at the top in the list of countries with successful wildlife conservation stories, this country deliberately regulates the flow of tourists to check its impact on wilderness tours, Namibia is the first African nation to include environment protection clause in its constitution and Tanzania has a third of its vast country protected as National Parks. The brightest spot in Asia with regard to conservation is held by Bhutan, the small landlocked country in Himalayas which earned laurels internationally for its approach to the environment; it is not just considered carbon neutral, but carbon negative because its emissions are offset by the vast forests that cover more than two third of its land. More than half of the country is protected. These countries are not mere inspirations, these countries are ensuring a safe future for humanity at large. The benefits of their ecological well-being are been shared by all of us. Most of these countries have adopted their own custom-made methods and frameworks to protect and preserve their natural environment. India with its wide range of bio-geography is haven to rich biodiversity, India is ranked very high for its rich diversity of birds and reptiles apart from country’s megafauna. India with the second highest human population is a unique realm of co-existence, human beings and the natural world are in constant tussle for land, space and resources. The environment challenges for India are far apart from rest of the world. India coped with these challenges to a great extent depending upon its traditional philosophies of compassionate co-existence which has been practiced by our fore-fathers through generations. Modern India’s promulgation of the Wildlife Protection Act of India (1972) and the legal framework of protection to forests under Protected areas network has proved most effective for biodiversity conservation in the country. Protecting the native forests of India against the burgeoning anthropogenic demands is a steep fight. The unique demography, ethnic diversity and complacency of government authorities towards matters concerning wildlife and forests led to the emergence of a multi-dimensional conservation framework in India. In true sense, the real custodians responsible for the protection of Indian forests are the people of India, they have preserved their forests through ages. None of the forests in India could have survived the onslaught of agriculture, industrialization and urbanization without active support from the fringe communities. Hence, in India the most important tool for effective biodiversity conservation is awareness and environment education. People must be empowered with correct information, knowledge and most important is to reconnect them with the Indian tradition which acknowledges the rights of all living beings to be free of suffering and find happiness in this world. Many Indian organizations and individuals connected with these organizations have made immense contribution in this direction. From the iconic Chipko andolan of 1970s to the Rainforest conservation movement of late 20th century, biodiversity conservation in India is indebted to people’s motivation and their active participation in the decision-making process through activism, advocacy and awareness. While we celebrate/observe the international events related to environment, forests, biodiversity and so on, we ought to remember that the most important factor in any such occasion is our commitment to the cause of Nature conservation. Every such event is a lost opportunity if we cannot rekindle the motivation to generate this commitment in us. The vision 2050 (Building a shared future for all – living in harmony with nature) is not new to India, every Indian is raised with the cultural heritage enriched with the commitment to live a purposeful life – through our endeavours, our thoughts and actions we contribute to happiness of all, we contribute to end sufferings of all sentient beings in this world. This remains imprinted in our collective memory inherited from our ancestors; this is the blueprint of Indianness which each of us adorn irrespective of our ignorance. The very essence of diversity of life forms and the philosophy of its conservation is an ancient Indian knowledge, borrowed by the western scientific world in course of time and exchange. Hence, India must not just observe and celebrate these events but lead and leap ahead in action towards effective biodiversity conservation for a peaceful future. Let this spirit of International Day for biological Diversity guide each of us in contributing our bit towards building a peaceful, happier and greener world in future. Every day is biodiversity day, hence everyday is a pledge to wake up with compassionate thoughts and meaningful actions.