Hyderabad: In a major breakthrough at the United Nations conference on biological diversity, which concluded here early Saturday, the developed countries agreed to double funding by 2015 to protect the planet's animal and plant species.
After marathon discussions which continued well past midnight, the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) reached an agreement to increase funding in support of actions to halt the rate of loss of biodiversity.
"Developed countries agreed to double funding to support efforts in developing states towards meeting the internationally-agreed Biodiversity Targets, and the main goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020," said a release from the CBD secretariat.
Using a baseline figure of the average annual national spending on biodiversity between 2006 and 2010, developed countries said they would double biodiversity-related international financial flows by 2015.
According to sources, this means $12 billion would be available every year for biodiversity conservation as against the average $6 billion per annum earmarked between 2006 and 2010.
The observers say the summit succeeded in evolving a consensus despite the reluctance of developed countries to commit additional funding in view of the economic slowdown.
However, the task on hand is still huge with India-UK High Level Panel chaired by environmental economist Pavan Sukhdev, estimating that $150 billion to $440 billion per annum is required to meet the targets.
COP10 at Nagoya, Japan in 2010 had set 20 biodiversity targets known as Aichi targets and had also adopted a 10-year strategic plan to achieve those targets.
Over 190 countries are parties to CBD adopted at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
The working group on resource mobilisation met several times since Friday evening to iron out differences between the developing and developed countries.
The COP also set targets to increase the number of countries that have included biodiversity in their national development plans, and agreed to prepare national financial plans for biodiversity by 2015.
All Parties agreed to substantially increase domestic expenditures for biodiversity protection over the same period, said the statement. For the first time, developing countries at COP 11, including India and several African states, pledged additional funds above and beyond their core funding towards the work of the CBD.
Resource mobilisation to achieve biodiversity targets by 2020 and implement the strategic plan, was the most contentious issue at the two-week conference, attended by over 14,000 delegates from 193 countries.
The meet also decided to pay special attention to bio-diversity rich marine areas. The Saragasso Sea, the Tonga archipelago and key corals sites off the coast of Brazil are among a range of marine areas to receive special attention from governments.
Other key decisions include new measures to factor biodiversity into environmental impact assessments linked to infrastructure and other development projects in marine and coastal areas.
Earlier, the plenary chaired by India's Environment and Forest Minister Jayanthi Natrajan unanimously adopted the document on the financial mechanism.
India, as the chair of the summit, played a key role in ending the logjam over resource mobilisation by proposing a middle path.
Supported by G-77 and China, India called upon parties to reach an agreement and to avoid a collective failure to advance the cause of biodiversity conservation.
First Published: Saturday, October 20, 2012, 12:36