Rebeca Gyrnspan: India Biodiversity Governance Awards Ceremony

Oct 17, 2012

Remarks for Rebeca Grynspan
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator
at the Indian Government Ministerial Reception
and India Biodiversity Governance Awards Ceremony Co-hosted by the Government of India and UNDP

17 October 2012, Hyderabad, India
Wednesday, 7:30pm

Honourable Minister of Environment and Forests for India,
Members of the Government of India,
Ministers and delegates,

Esteemed members of the Jury,
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests,

I am honoured to be with you this evening at the Official Reception of the Indian Government for the delegates to the Eleventh Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Tonight we announce the winners of the India Biodiversity Awards. The United Nations Development Programme is proud to co-sponsor these awards together with the Government of India. By recognizing outstanding examples of biodiversity governance in India, we hope to demonstrate what is possible, and help winners to scale up and lead society towards a more sustainable and equitable path.

It is telling that tonight’s award winners are not just given national recognition but are held up as examples to delegates from around the world.

This is important not just because of the awardees exceptional efforts but because India – as a mega-diverse and populous country - exemplifies many of the sustainable development challenges we face as an international community. The challenge here and around the world is to advance the health, jobs, wellbeing and dignity of people, while respecting planetary boundaries and conserving the diversity of life in all of its forms.

India shows us how interlinked these goals are. Around 275 million rural people in India largely depend on natural resources for their subsistence and livelihoods – most acutely tribal people living in forests or its fringes.

We know biodiversity is essential for the health and wellbeing of us all – but for the poor & vulnerable the link is often immediate & as fundamental as getting enough to eat, accessing clean water, and having some protection against increasingly frequent storms and extreme weather.

Advancing both development and biodiversity targets means effectively managing the use and protection of natural resources and biodiversity.

The experience of India - and indeed the nominees we celebrate tonight - shows us many approaches can be taken– from formally designating protected areas to community-led conservation. UNDP in a publication to be released this evening: “Conservation Across Landscapes: India’s Approaches to Biodiversity Governance” highlights in particular the effective community-level co-management approaches – which cover one-fifth of India’s geographic area. Effective civil society & government collaborations - from Biodiversity Management Committees in Arunachal Pradesh to Joint Forest Protection Committees in Chhattisgarh – demonstrate what can be achieved locally.

As we celebrate outstanding examples here in India, I ask you to consider ways to strengthen biodiversity governance in your own countries and communities.

UNDP is committed to help. We work with the Government of India and countries around the world to strengthen biodiversity governance –by developing local capacities, sharing good practice, strengthening institutions and facilitating collaboration.

We see biodiversity as integral to our sustainable human development mandate - and are the first development agency to establish a framework responding to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Tomorrow, UNDP will launch a global strategy to accelerate progress and help countries achieve them.

In Rio+20 Member States agreed that biodiversity and ecosystem management must be at the heart of our efforts to reduce poverty, grow our economies and improve the lives of people. UNDP looks forward to working with you to turn this commitment into practical and ambitious development agendas –which will advance sustainable development for our communities, countries, and planet.

I thank you for your hard work to realize this goal here in Hyderabad. I congratulate the award winners and thank them for their exceptional leadership and for the inspiration they give us to move forward. I finally ask that you join me to thank our generous hosts, the Government of India, and particularly Minister Natarajan for her personal warm welcome to all of us, for offering us this opportunity to celebrate these achievements, and for their efforts to make the 11th Conference of States Parties a success.

Thank you.

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