Environment & Biodiversity

India’s Biodiversity Requires Scientific Implementation

The sum and variation of our biological wealth, known as biodiversity, is critical to the planet’s future. India currently hosts 17% of the world’s human population and 17% of the global area in biodiversity hotspots, putting it in a position to lead the way for the world to become biodiversity champions.

What exactly is the 3030 pledge?

  • The value of our planet’s biodiversity was emphasised strongly at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada.
  • On December 19, 2022, 188 country representatives signed the 3030 pledge, which aims to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by conserving 30% of the world’s land and 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.

Government initiatives and programmes with a potential

  • Green Growth push in the budget: Green Growth was mentioned as one of the seven priorities, or Saptarishis, in the Union Budget 2023. The emphasis on green growth is good news for India’s biological wealth, as the country is losing natural assets such as soils, land, water, and biodiversity.
  • The National Mission for a Green India aims to increase forest cover on degraded lands while also protecting existing forested lands.
  • The Green Credit Programme aims to incentivize environmentally sustainable and responsive actions by businesses, individuals, and local governments.
  • MISHTI Training: The Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats and Tangible Incomes (MISHTI) is especially significant because of the extraordinary importance of mangroves and coastal ecosystems in climate change mitigation.
  • PM-PRANAM: The Prime Minister Programme for Restoration, Awareness, Nourishment, and Amelioration of Mother Earth (PM-PRANAM) is critical for sustaining our agriculture by reducing synthetic fertiliser and pesticide inputs.
  • The Amrit Dharohar scheme is expected to encourage optimal use of wetlands while also improving biodiversity, carbon stock, eco-tourism opportunities, and income generation for local communities. Amrit Dharohar, with its emphasis on sustainability by balancing competing demands, will benefit aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem services if implemented in letter and spirit.
  • For example, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change recently intervened to prevent the draining of Haiderpur, a Ramsar wetland in Uttar Pradesh, to protect migratory waterfowl.

Science-based programmes are required.

  • Evidence-based implementation: It is critical that these programmes use evidence-based implementation to respond to the current state of the country’s biodiversity.
  • A scientifically sound and all-inclusive monitoring programme: A science-based and inclusive monitoring programme is essential not only for the success of these efforts, but also for the documentation and distillation of lessons learned for national and global replication.
  • Using modern concepts of sustainability: New missions and programmes should use modern concepts of sustainability and ecosystem valuation that take into account ecological, cultural, and sociological aspects of our biological wealth.
  • Setting clear system boundaries, prioritising resource people’s benefits, and using fund-services (rather than stock-flows) as the economic foundation for generating value has enormous potential for multiple sustainable bio-economies.
  • Efficient water use patterns: The future of our wetland ecosystems will be determined by our ability to sustain ecological flows in key sectors such as agriculture by encouraging changes to less-water intensive crops such as millets, as well as investments in water recycling in urban areas using a combination of grey and blue-green infrastructure.
  • The Green India Mission’s implementation should focus on ecological restoration rather than tree plantation, and it should select sites where it can contribute to ecological connectivity in landscapes fragmented by linear infrastructure.
  • Choices should be based on evidences of resilience: The choice of species and density should be informed by available knowledge and evidence on resilience in the face of emerging climate change, as well as synergies and trade-offs in terms of hydrologic services.
  • Careful site selection for the mangrove initiative: Site selection for the mangrove initiative should also be carefully considered, with a greater emphasis on diversity of mangrove species and preservation of the integrity of coastal mudflats and salt pans themselves, as they are also important for biodiversity.
  • Response effort: In response to these needs, we hope that the government will immediately launch the National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Wellbeing (Mission to green India’s economy, restore natural capital, and make India a global leader in applied biodiversity science), which has already been approved by PM-STIAC.

PM-STIAC (Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council):

  • PM-STIAC is a high-level advisory body that advises India’s Prime Minister on science, technology, and innovation.
  • Advises the Indian Prime Minister on science and technology policy, identifying emerging areas, recommending missions and projects, and enhancing science and technology’s effectiveness in addressing national challenges.
  • The Prime Minister appoints the council’s members, who are distinguished scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, and policymakers.
  • PM-STIAC also serves as a forum for academic, industrial, and government stakeholders to interact and collaborate on science and technology initiatives.

Participation of the local community

  • Efforts must be inclusive: Each of these initiatives must include local and nomadic communities where they will be implemented.
  • Traditional practises must be incorporated: These communities’ traditional knowledge and practises should be incorporated into implementation plans.

@the end

Each of the aforementioned programmes has the potential to significantly improve the state of our nation’s biodiversity if implemented in accordance with the most recent scientific and ecological knowledge.

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