Category Archives: Asia

Three takeaways from the Global Youth Biodiversity Network’s Asia Capacity Building Workshop

By Mohammad Arju, Bangladesh

Hello people, who are reading this post, please be informed that on May 27 we’ve just wrapped up one of the most important events in Asia this year. I know, most of you never heard of it, but don’t be surprised; we know, relying on mainstream media as the only source of information has its own limitation- in many cases, the media fails to report on real important things.

So, please let me convince you about how the recently held Global Youth Biodiversity Network’s Asia Capacity Building Workshop will shape the future of Asia and the Ocean planet.

THE HOMEWORK

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One of my fellow participants at the workshop, Naseem Sultani from Afghanistan already written about it; the week-long workshop held in Singapore (with generous support from Singapore’s National Parks Board and Japan Biodiversity Fund) had a wide range of participants from the Central, South, Southeast, West and East Asia, and all of them are back to their home countries with a very specific homework. And the homework is not just about same-old-same-old romantic environmentalism about biodiversity; it is not about photogenic environmentalism of just holding another conference. The organizers were very clear about it, and this policy position was well reflected in all of the training sessions of the workshop (See the Schedule: PDF File).

The workshop was designed to train the youth leaders in real down-to-earth efforts for utilizing the already available multi-national process and mechanism (Convention on Biological Diversity, for example) on local, national and regional level to minimize the impact of market-economy on the diversity of life our planet hosts, and eventually help the governments in successful drafting and implementation of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) to achieve Aichi Biodiversity Goals.

With this homework, the trained participants are out, therefore, more learning and real work, in their respective countries.

Using ‘System Thinking’ approach, they’ve built a scenario of current status and identified best possible leveraged to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in Asia as a youth group. They’ve conceptualized several programs for the coming years to establish ASEAN and South and Central Asian sub-regional networks, to build a knowledge network, and to run a grassroots conservation program through Participatory Action Research led by youth organizations and fellows. In the coming months; they will design, develop and start implementing the programs.

So, in a brief, with the goal to secure more diversity of life on the planet, this workshop just deployed a team of well-trained youth leaders in the field to take part in political and decision-making processes at local, national, regional and international levels. The team’s work will certainly help the national governments in Asia to bring sustainability in the development process, also achieve many targets of the Sustainable Development Goals in the process and reconnecting the people with nature.

THE STRENGTH

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In these times of growth-hungry economy devastating the people and the planet, being a conservationist means you are engaged in really down-to-earth activities to reverse the process. The Convention of Biological Diversity’s stated role is to ‘prevent and attack the causes of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity at source’, you know it. And it’s not easy, rather daunting, oftentimes exhaustive too. But this workshop was a forum where we met the people face to face who are building their lives around this daunting task, it was really comforting.

Even in places like Singapore, where the economic violence affected the social-ecological systems severely, things have started to change, we’ve met several groups of people who are working for reconnecting people with nature. Even within such an extremely modified landscape, as a result of orchestrated efforts by government authorities and citizen-science groups like Otter-Watch and NUS Toddycats, the Singapore River is now hosting at least two large families of the smooth-coated otter. We’re aware that, there is no final victory in conservation, there will not be, but this sort of conservation-optimism story once again shows us the way.

And, it’s not just that, you listen to others’ stories, experience, and observation or go visit successful conservation initiative, which in some ways, or in many ways may be reasons to you, inform you about how people around the continent is bringing positive change for the conservation of biodiversity. One of the most important parts, for me, at the workshop was, I’ve learned a lot while articulating mine to others. Also, can sense that other participants were also re-discovering themselves by explaining their experience and ideas to others.

So, it is about self-motivation, as one of my fellow participants, Xu Waiting from Singapore was saying during their group presentation; ‘It’s the self-motivation what keeps you running to achieve what you believe in.’

WE THE PEOPLE

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The most important aspect of the forum was, I should say, together, we can now think of ourselves as a people, the people for advancing conservation in Asia. By taking parts in a number of self-organizing tasks (System Thinking, Project Concept Developing for example), through the process of feedback and evaluation, we’ve already started to work collaboratively.

As a team, now we know about our internal resources, strength, expertise we can offer to each other; and we have already come up with concepts about how to get easier access to this team and keep collaborating.

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A conservationist and journalist based in Bangladesh, Md Kutub Uddin (Mohammad Arju) is a Trustee of Save Our Sea.

Email: arju@saveoursea.social

 

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Homo sapiens, biodiversity and climate change in the Arabian Gulf

“In order to understand, I destroyed myself.”  ― Fernando Pessoa

For the past 4.5 billion years, the world we today call “Planet Earth” has been undergoing constant change since its formation especially in terms of climatic changes driving evolutionary change whereby species and ecosystems work on adapting to survive or face extinction.  This constant fluctuation between the climate being extremely cold and covered in ice to very hot and vice-verse has in the past 10,000 years come to equilibrium, thus, making the planet’s climate more stable.

This has led to the flourishing of diverse flora and fauna creating what we know as today’s biodiversity and subsequently to the explosion of the Homo sapiens species population. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) defines biodiversity as the variety of life on earth and the natural patterns it forms, this refers to ecosystem, species and genetic variation.

In the past approximately 650,000 years, temperatures and greenhouse gases such as CO2 and CH4 levels are known to have changed following cyclical patterns over a large span of time. However, over the past century following the industrial revolution, human activities have started affecting the natural climate balance negatively whereby COlevels have now reached 400 ppm in comparison to the 80 ppm rise in COconcentration at the end of the past ice age which took over 5000 years to occur.

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Climate change impacts are already being felt around the world with projections of dramatic shifts in the states of many ecosystems; climate change has also been linked to well documented changes in physiology, phenology, species distributions and others (Watson, 2012). Moreover, it is also seen to be one of the main contributors to the global loss of biodiversity and has already caused accelerated rates of species’ extinctions along with changes to ecosystems worldwide (Sala et al., 2000; Thomas et al., 2004; Pimm, 2008; Watson, 2012).

Known to host the world’s hottest sea, the Arabian Gulf in recent years has become an attraction hub for scientists, economists, energy experts and researchers from various fields due to the region’s interesting and challenging nature (Riegl & Purkis, 2012). Despite the harsh environmental conditions, the region harbours a rich biodiversity bringing together ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds and sabkhas whilst being home to numerous endemic species. Moreover, the Arabian Gulf also fosters many migratory species of turtles, whales and other species and is considered to be of international importance in terms of biodiversity as it hosts the second largest population of dugongs following Australia and the largest breeding colony of the Socotra Cormorant in the world in addition to many other reasons…..Continued here

Nagoya Protocol Comes in Force, India Falling Apart in Implementation

Dispatches from Pyeongchang, S. Korea

Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing came in force last Sunday. It is definitely a good news, as after years of deadlock on the issues of environment and sustainability, we have a new substantial global norm to facilitate environmental governance. At a very basic level the objective of the protocol is to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from utilization of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. Now a framework is in place which ensures that genetic resources of countries and communities are not used without consent. When the foundations of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) were laid, developed countries desired conservation agenda at the top, while developing countries wanted sustainable use of biodiversity for their material progress to be priority. In the juggernaut of various interests Convention on Biological Diversity succeeded in balancing at-least the demand of developing countries.

To ratify the protocol, parties need to have a domestic regulatory framework which can be either in the form of legislation. The legislation further creates a regulatory body or the task of access and benefit sharing is allocated to the relevant existing department. Bringing out legislation is not mandatory. There needs to be a relevant body with a job profile of implementation of norms related to access and benefit sharing.

The protocol also acknowledges the role played by indigenous and local communities in sustainable harvest of genetic resources and their knowledge (traditional knowledge) of its handling. The protocol enforces the sharing of monetary and non-monetary benefits with them after the sustainable usage of genetic resources.

India definitely needs a round of applause for hosting COP-11, in Hyderabad, which brought out the road map for ratification of Nagoya Protocol by more than 50 parties (participant countries) of CBD. Let me make one thing very clear, it’s the efforts of previous government which bore fruits in the regime of new government. We don’t need to congratulate either Mr. Narendra Modi or Prakash Javadekar.

India’s role in ratification of protocol need to be appreciated, but the fact is that India also has shown tremendous hypocrisy to execute the same at home in India. National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) was created in 2003 much before the formulation of protocol with the similar objectives. Sadly, the NBA has done more harm to environment and losses to the biological resources of the country go un-estimated. There are not many case studies of sharing of benefits arising after from utilization of genetic resources and traditional knowledge with indigenous and local communities in India. NBA prefers to keep the money and other benefits in its own pockets.Continued here…