More than 500 participants from federal and state governments, national and international NGOs, multi-lateral organizations, educational institutions and media attended the BIOFIN launch event in Srinagar, during celebrations of International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22nd.
India, a megadiverse country with only 2.4% of the world's land area, accounts for 8% of all planet species, including over 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals. Four of the 34 globally biodiversity hotspots, namely the Himalaya, Indo-Burma, the Western Ghats-Sri Lanka and Sundaland, are represented in India. The diverse physical features and climatic conditions have resulted in a variety of ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, desert, coastal and marine ecosystems that harbour and sustain high biodiversity and contribute to human well being.
Despite this richness, India has been working to protect its astonishing biodiversity as develops its economy. The country's biodiversity faces a variety of threats, ranging from land use changes in natural habitats to overexploitation of natural resources, proliferation of invasive species and climate change. As a conservative estimate, India is spending approximately USD$2 billion annually on biodiversity conservation, but the country requires between US$ 15 and 45 billion per year to sustain its efforts. Towards this end, Government of India has moved forward to implement the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN), addressing the biodiversity finance challenge.
Mr. Bali Bhagat, Minister for Social Welfare, Forest, Ecology and Environment, Jammu & Kashmir, officially launched BIOFIN featuring a brochure that lays out the National Biodiversity Targets as well as the Initiative objectives and responsible institutions for implementation in India. In the event also participated Mr. Hem Pande, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India and Chairman, National Biodiversity Authority, Mr. Jaco Cilliers, Country Director, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Mr. Edgar Endrukaitis, Director, Indo- German Biodiversity Programme, GIZ.
For Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Mr. Prakash Javadekar, “the sustainable development rests on a viable and sound natural resource base” reported The New Indian Express.
BIOFIN is a global UNDP initiative, developed in partnership with the European Commission and the Governments of Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Flanders. BIOFIN provides an innovative approach to identify and mobilise financial resources for implementing India’s Biodiversity Action Plan and achieving the National Biodiversity Targets. BIOFIN initiative includes reviewing of public expenditures on biodiversity, costing the implementation of the National Biodiversity Action Plan and a resource mobilization strategy for biodiversity conservation.