Minister for Environment, Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests said that India is well placed to lead the way in incorporating the value of nature into national, regional and local policy making. Speaking at ‘Stakeholder Consultations on the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity in India’ (I-TEEB) here today, he said India soon will launch a scheme in three states , Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra and introduce a market based system for control of air pollution. We introduce legal changes. For the first time in last December, the Ministry promulgated the rules for ecological functions. We created regulatory authority also. The protection, preservation and regeneration of living beings will be central in biodiversity maintenance. Good Quality of forest cover will help primary stakeholder, i.e. people. Livelihood opportunities will be sustainable with this. Green India Mission will also contribute towards maintaining quantity of forests.
The Minister informed that India is one of the recognized mega-diverse countries of the world. With an area of about 329 mha, India is 7th largest country in the world. India has wide range of ecosystems and habitats such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, coastal and marine ecosystems, and deserts which in turn have contributed to immense biological diversity with large variation in species of plants, animals and microbes. With only 2.4% of world’s land area, India accounts for 7 to 8 % of the recorded plant and animal species of the world. Talking about diversity in biodiversity of India, the Minister of State said, “India has ten bio-geographic zones and also four global biodiversity hotspots. India is endowed with vast forest resources. The total forest and tree cover of the country is estimated at 23.39% of the geographic area, of which forest cover accounts for 21.02% (69.09 mha)’.
TEEB Study leader and UNEP Special Adviser and Head of UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative, Shri Pavan Sukhdev said, “The loss of biodiversity and the ecosystem services impacts us all, but in India the rural poor are the first to be adversely affected by these losses. Defining the economic value of nature’s contribution to the human well-being of both rural and urban communities, and the costs to these communities if we allow the continued degradation of this natural capital is essential if India is going to be able to sustain the human-wellbeing of its population moving forward.”
Sh T.Chatterjee, Secretary, Environment & Forests, briefed about India’s policy, institutional and legal initiatives and strengths for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and future leadership role in the International Decade of Biodiversity.
Stakeholders consultations on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity in India aims to recognize, demonstrate, capture and optimize the value of biodiversity and ecosystem service and targets policy actions at national and state levels, improvements in business assessments and disclosure, and improved citizen awareness of the issues involved. A framework will be developed for strengthening biodiversity conservation programs and initiating action for assessing the economic value of India’s natural capital. The study will enable to take in to account the valuation and economics of biodiversity also to ensure enhanced transparency, effectiveness and sustainability in utilization of natural resources, consistent with the needs of the country to achieve accelerated economic development. The study will also facilitate to meet the objective to adopt an open, transparent and competitive mechanism for allocation, pricing and utilization of biological resources.
Based on the recommendations of the study of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) hosted by UNEP, the ‘India TEEB’ consultations will pilot assessments in some of the States and will be showcased at the 11th Conference of Parties Meeting on the Convention of Biological Diversity to be held in India from 1st -19th October 2012.
Experts from the Indian Government, State Governments, Academic community and NGOs, members from the World Bank, UNDP, UNEP, Government of Norway and other international partners are participating in these deliberations.