For India, as is true of other nations, in the recent past there was a huge task of drawing up the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, including Manipur, whereas it has been hinted by environmental workers that the country’s NBSAP process is nowhere to be seen working on ground.
By Salam Rajesh
Nature-based solutions projected at ecosystem protection, restoration and improved management of farmlands are amongst the most effective strategies for reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions in addressing climate issues, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on limiting global warming well below 1.5 degree Celsius by the year 2030 to 2050.
The issue on unregulated emissions from unwanted forest fires, stubble burnings, peatland burning for reclamation to facilitate commercial farming, fossil fuel emissions from industries, motor vehicles, aviation, and many more are said to have influenced drastic changes in the atmosphere for which global warming has become a huge problem for the blue planet and all life forms that exist on Earth.
Supplementing on this subjective matter of global concern, Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has this to say, “The big question that humanity faces at this pivotal moment is how to transform our economic systems, including processes of production and consumption, to ensure that we remain within planetary boundaries, limit climate change, and reverse the loss of nature and endangered species”.
The UNEP’s executive director’s note of urgency is reflected in the organization’s latest report ‘State of Finance for Nature – Time to Act: Doubling investment by 2025 and eliminating nature-negative finance flows’ (2022) (https://wedocs.unep.org/20.500.11822/41333).
The State of Finance for Nature report ‘quantifies public and private finance flows to Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in tackling global challenges related to biodiversity loss, land degradation and climate change’.
The report states that ‘current investments are compared to investment needed to meet targets of the Rio Conventions under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)’.
It is generally accepted across forums that the Nature-based Solutions can play a major role in addressing a broad range of societal challenges, from managing water scarcity and food insecurity to reducing disaster risk to poverty alleviation, closely reflecting the targets set in the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that nature-positive policies could ‘attract more than US$10 trillion in new annual business value and create 395 million jobs by the year 2030’. The report focuses specifically on the ability of NbS to tackle societal challenges related to the climate crisis, land degradation and biodiversity loss.
In the broad discussions on finding solutions to the myriad issues directly or indirectly related to climate change, it is generalized that both the terrestrial and marine ecosystems are primarily responsible for absorbing and storing about half of global carbon emissions.
On the basis of this stated argument, there has been a focused move by international organizations to work jealously towards restoring landscapes, both terrestrial and marine, in meeting the goals set under the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030).
The State of Finance for Nature report equally lays stress on human rights and gender equality as integral to financing NbS, ‘particularly the use of public funds to ensure equitable and effective solutions on the ground’. This basically looks at financing strategies that can resolve issues on ground and in real time, such as achieving restoration of large tracts of degraded forest lands and partially ‘dying’ wetlands through the active participation of Indigenous peoples and local communities who largely depend on these landscapes for their living.
A key message in the report specifically states that the “Finance flows to NbS are currently US$154 billion per year, less than half of the US$384 billion per year investment in NbS needed by 2025 and only a third of investment needed by 2030 (US$484 billion per year)”. At this calculation, it is certainly alarming that the push for achieving the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is not meeting the desired targets within the stipulated time.
Another important aspect profiled in the report says that, “With sufficient finance, NbS provide the means to cost-effectively reach climate, biodiversity and land degradation neutrality targets, particularly if investments simultaneously contribute to biodiversity (National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans [NBSAPs]), climate (Nationally determined contributions [NDC]) and restoration (Land Degradation Neutrality [LDN]) targets. This ‘double’ or ‘triple’ win potential is particularly alluring given the current economic situation”.
For India, as is true of other nations, in the recent past there was a huge task of drawing up the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, including Manipur, whereas it has been hinted by environmental workers that the country’s NBSAP process is nowhere to be seen working on ground. Experts involved in the exercise opined that the enduring task has been futile.
The UNEP report exhibits a high hope for the future as and when countries commit fully to the objectives in mind, expressing that, “If we rapidly double finance flows to NbS, we can halt biodiversity loss (measured through the Biodiversity Intactness Index), significantly contribute to reducing emissions (5 GtCO2/year by 2025 further rising to 15 GtCO2/year by 2050 in the 1.5°C scenario) and restore close to 1 billion ha of degraded land”.
High hopes indeed, as and when compared to the negative human influences in the mountainous tracts of Manipur with the uncontrolled expansion of illegal poppy cultivation, a menace that the Government of Manipur is currently striving to check by all means.
The suggested line of action, in tune with the strategies being outlined by the United Nations on ecosystem restoration, is to re-vitalize the NBSAP strategies for the State that looks closely at the many issues and the solutions to these issues, including land degradation, deforestation, water scarcity, food insecurity, biodiversity loss, and the possible impacts of climate change through a time phase.
A robust planning is needed to be put in action, more particularly considering the rough mountainous terrain that covers almost 90 percent of the State, and more significantly, the engagement of local communities in a wholesome task towards achieving the goals of the NBSAP at the local context.
(The writer looks at environmental stories through the journalistic lens. He can be reached at [email protected])