India rejects demands for cut in agriculture subsidy at COP15

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, December 17: India has rejected the demands of the developed world for a cut in the agricultural subsidy and redirecting the savings for boosting the biodiversity, arguing that the matters related to food security and the use of pesticides be left to the individual countries. India was represented by Union Minister for Environment Bhupender Yadav at the COP15 in Montreal, Canada.

Yadav on Saturday spoke at the stocktaking plenary at the UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15. The participating nations are brainstorming over the ways for biodiversity conservation, with thrust on COP15 reaching a consensus on putting in place the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

“Reversing ecosystem degradation and halting global biodiversity loss are essential for the socioeconomic development and wellbeing of people, and for advancing global sustainability,” said Yadav at the plenary, while adding that “India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working towards restoring and conserving its rich biodiversity, which includes one of the world’s richest mix of flora and fauna”. India is also working closely with other countries for knowledge sharing and technology exchange for biodiversity conservation, he added.

Yadav also underlined that while the goals and targets set in the Global Biodiversity Framework should be ambitious, they should also be realistic and practical. “Conservation of biodiversity must also be based on Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective capabilities as the climate change also has an impact on biodiversity,” argued Yadav.

The minister also stressed that for the developing nations, agriculture is a paramount economic driver for rural communities, and the critical support provided to these sectors cannot be redirected. “Majority of the rural population in India is dependent on agriculture and allied sectors and the government provides a variety of subsidies, including seed, fertilizer, irrigation, power, export, credit, agriculture equipment, agriculture infrastructure for supporting the livelihoods of farmers mainly, small and marginal,” said Yadav, while stressing that “India does not agree to reducing the agriculture related subsidy and redirecting the savings for biodiversity conservation, as there are many other national priorities”.

He further stated that “when food security is of utmost importance for developing countries, prescribing numerical targets in pesticide reductions is unnecessary and must be left to countries to decide, based on national circumstances, priorities and capabilities”.

He also underlined that the availability of new technologies and biodiversity data is still uneven. “Most of the megadiverse countries that harbour global biodiversity need adequate funds, coupled with technology transfer. In this background, the most important challenge is the resources needed for implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework. Greater ambition means greater cost and the burden of this cost fall disproportionately on the countries that can least afford them,” argued Yadav.

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