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Introduction

International organizations and conventions facilitate global collaboration to address shared challenges. From environmental protection to human rights, these entities serve as platforms for nations to develop collective strategies. This introduction explores the significance and impact of these frameworks, fostering cooperation for the greater good of humanity.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) plays a pivotal role in shaping the global environmental agenda and advocating for sustainable development. Its highest decision-making body, the UN Environment Assembly, convenes biennially to set priorities, develop international environmental law, and foster intergovernmental action on global environmental challenges.

Shankar IAS Summary: International Organisation and Conventions- 2 | Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests)

History and Evolution

The Environment Assembly, established in 2012, is the culmination of international efforts dating back to the UN Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. Over the years, it has addressed critical issues such as illegal wildlife trade, air and water pollution, and sustainable development goals.

Key Initiatives

The Assembly's third session in 2017 focused on achieving a pollution-free planet, addressing sub-themes like water and land pollution, marine pollution, air pollution, and chemical waste management. It adopted resolutions calling for accelerated action and strengthened partnerships to combat various environmental challenges.

India's Contribution

At the 2019 session, India played a pivotal role by piloting resolutions on Single-use Plastics and Sustainable Nitrogen management. The Assembly recognized the global need to better manage the nitrogen cycle, emphasizing its impact on human health, ecosystems, and climate change.

Champions of the Earth

UNEP's Champions of the Earth award, launched in 2005, honors individuals from diverse sectors whose actions have positively transformed the environment. Notable awardees include Mumbai-based lawyer Afroz Shah for his beach cleaning campaign and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Policy Leadership in 2018.

Asia Environment Enforcement Awards

UNEP's awards in this category publicly recognize individuals and organizations combating transboundary environmental crime in Asia. India's Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) received the award in 2018 for its innovative enforcement techniques and online Wildlife Crime Database Management System.


Aichi Biodiversity Targets

Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.

  • By 2020, ensure awareness of biodiversity values and sustainable conservation steps.
  • Integrate biodiversity values into national development, poverty reduction, and accounting systems.
  • Eliminate harmful incentives to biodiversity and develop positive incentives for conservation.
  • Ensure sustainable production and consumption, keeping impacts within safe ecological limits.

Shankar IAS Summary: International Organisation and Conventions- 2 | Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests)

Strategic Goal B: Reduce direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use.

  • Halve the rate of loss of natural habitats by 2020 and sustainably manage fish and invertebrate stocks.
  • Ensure sustainable management of agriculture, aquaculture, and forestry by 2020.
  • Reduce pollution levels by 2020 and control invasive alien species and pathways.
  • Minimize anthropogenic pressures on vulnerable ecosystems like coral reefs by 2015.
Strategic Goal C: Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity.
  • Conserve at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water, and 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020.
  • Prevent the extinction of known threatened species by 2020.
  • Maintain genetic diversity of plants, animals, and wild relatives by 2020.
Strategic Goal D: Enhance benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Restore and safeguard ecosystems providing essential services by 2020.
  • Enhance ecosystem resilience and biodiversity's contribution to carbon stocks by 2020.
  • Ensure the operationalization of the Nagoya Protocol by 2015.
Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management, and capacity building.
  • Develop and implement effective national biodiversity strategies and action plans by 2015.
  • Respect and integrate traditional knowledge of indigenous communities by 2020.
  • Improve knowledge, science, and technologies related to biodiversity by 2020.
  • Substantially increase financial resources for implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 by 2020.

India's Contribution

India, in 2021, has already set aside over 17.41% of its geographical area to meet conservation objectives under Aichi Biodiversity Target-11 and Sustainable Development Goal-15.

CoP 11 Hyderabad

During CoP 11, India committed US $50 million for biodiversity conservation, focusing on strengthening institutional mechanisms and capacity building. The Hyderabad Pledge aims to enhance technical and human capabilities at national and state levels.

Kunming Declaration

  • Adopted by over 100 countries, the Kunming Declaration prioritizes biodiversity protection in decision-making.
  • Commitment to supporting the development of an effective post-2020 implementation plan.
  • Encourages post-pandemic recovery policies that contribute to conservation and sustainable development.
  • Addresses the '30 by 30' target for 30% protected status on Earth's land and oceans by 2030.
  • Introduces the Kunming biodiversity fund, pledging USD 233 million to support biodiversity protection in developing nations.

Kigali Agreement

  • The Twenty-Eighth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, Rwanda, amended the 1987 Montreal Protocol to phase out Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Unlike carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, HFCs, introduced in the 1990s as an ozone-friendly alternative, contribute to global warming.
    Shankar IAS Summary: International Organisation and Conventions- 2 | Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests)
  • Eliminating HFCs could reduce global warming by 0.5 degrees by 2100, according to a 2015 study. However, the shift to alternatives like ammonia or hydrofluoroolefins might pose challenges for developing countries like India with high summer temperatures.
  • The Kigali Agreement, binding from 2019, commits 197 countries to reduce HFC use by roughly 85% of their baselines by 2045. Developed countries must reduce HFC use by 10% by 2019 and 85% by 2036. Developing countries, including China and African nations, start the transition in 2024, aiming for an 80% reduction by 2045. India and others commence in 2028, aiming for an 85% reduction by 2047. The Kigali Agreement was ratified in 2021.

India phase out HCFC-141b

  • India has successfully phased out Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141b, a potent ozone-depleting chemical used in rigid polyurethane foams. This chemical, mainly used in the foam sector, had significant links to various economic sectors.
  • HCFC-141b, not produced domestically, was entirely phased out through regulatory measures. The Ministry prohibited its import and closed its use in the foam manufacturing industry. The transition involved engaging with enterprises, providing technical and financial assistance to adopt non-ODS and low GWP technologies under the HCFC Phase Out Management Plan (HPMP).
  • The phase-out of HCFC-141b contributes to healing the ozone layer and mitigating climate change by transitioning foam manufacturing enterprises to low global warming potential technologies at scale under HPMP.

Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems

The FAO administers the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) program, acknowledging regions globally that exhibit remarkable land use systems rich in biological diversity, shaped by the co-adaptation of communities with their environment for sustainable development.

In India, the following sites have received recognition under this program:

  1. Traditional Agricultural System, Koraput, Odisha
  2. Below Sea Level Farming System, Kuttanad, Kerala

Shankar IAS Summary: International Organisation and Conventions- 2 | Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests)

In the Koraput system, women have played a crucial role in biodiversity conservation. The Kuttanad system, developed over 150 years ago, ensures food security by cultivating rice and other crops below sea level. With global warming causing sea level rise, the Kerala government's visionary decision to establish an International Research and Training Centre for Below Sea Level Farming in Kuttanad has garnered international attention.


Minamata Convention

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, adopted in 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan, is a global treaty aimed at safeguarding human health and the environment from human-made emissions and releases of mercury and its compounds. The convention also regulates the transboundary movement of mercury, excluding natural emissions.

Mercury, recognized as one of the most toxic metals, has harmful effects on the nervous system and bio-accumulates in the food chain. The convention mandates that member nations:

Shankar IAS Summary: International Organisation and Conventions- 2 | Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests)

  • Reduce or eliminate mercury use and release from artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
  • Control mercury emissions from sources such as coal-fired power plants, industrial boilers, non-ferrous metals production, waste incineration, and cement production.
  • Phase out or reduce mercury use in various products like batteries, switches, lights, cosmetics, pesticides, and measuring devices, with a focus on dental amalgam.
  • Phase out or minimize mercury use in manufacturing processes like chlor-alkali production, vinyl chloride monomer production, and acetaldehyde production.
  • The Convention also addresses mercury supply and trade, safe storage and disposal, and strategies for handling contaminated sites. It includes provisions for technical assistance, information exchange, public awareness, and research, with periodic evaluations of its effectiveness in protecting human health and the environment from mercury pollution.
  • The Minamata Convention became effective in August 2017. The first Conference of Parties (COP1) took place in September 2017, and COP2 occurred in November 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The Union Cabinet has approved India's ratification of the Minamata Convention, allowing flexibility for the continued use of mercury-based products and processes involving mercury compounds until 2025.
The document Shankar IAS Summary: International Organisation and Conventions- 2 | Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests) is a part of the UPSC Course Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests).
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FAQs on Shankar IAS Summary: International Organisation and Conventions- 2 - Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests)

1. What is the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)?
Ans. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is a global organization established by the United Nations to promote sustainable development and protect the environment. It coordinates environmental activities, assists in the development of environmental policies, and supports countries in implementing sustainable practices.
2. What are the Aichi Biodiversity Targets?
Ans. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets are a set of 20 global targets established under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). These targets aim to halt the loss of biodiversity and promote its sustainable use by 2020. They cover various aspects, including conservation, sustainable agriculture, ecosystem restoration, and awareness-raising.
3. What is the Kigali Agreement?
Ans. The Kigali Agreement, also known as the Kigali Amendment, is an international agreement adopted in 2016 under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The agreement aims to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning. By reducing HFCs, the agreement contributes to global efforts in mitigating climate change.
4. What are Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)?
Ans. Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) are traditional agricultural systems recognized for their unique cultural, environmental, and socio-economic significance. These systems have sustained generations of farmers and contributed to food security and biodiversity conservation. GIAHS sites are designated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to promote their conservation and sustainable development.
5. What is the Minamata Convention?
Ans. The Minamata Convention is an international treaty adopted in 2013 to protect human health and the environment from mercury pollution. It is named after the city of Minamata, Japan, where severe mercury poisoning occurred in the mid-20th century. The convention aims to minimize and eventually eliminate the use and release of mercury in various industries and promote safe and environmentally sound alternatives.
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