1. What is the Convention on Biological Diversity ?

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a legally-binding agreement between 196 countries. “ It is the first attempt by international community to adress biological diversity as a whole in a global legal instrument”. “It not only addresses conservtion of biodiversity but also related socio-economic aspects.” It was opened for signature on 5th June 1992 and entered into force on 29th December 1993.

2. What are the objectives of CBD?

As expressin in Article 1 of the CBD, the three objectives are : conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of the diversity and ensuring fair and equitable sharing of benefits of such use.

3. What is a COP?

COP or Conference of Parties is the convention’s governing body that is represented by the Parties to the convention. The COP meets every two years to review the implementation of the convention and plan new strategies for furthering its objectives. So far 13 meetings have been held. The 14th meeting , COP-14 will be held in 2017.

4. What is a SBSTTA?

SBSTTA is the "Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice" responsible for giving advise to COP on technical aspects related to implementiaion of the convention. It is an “open-ended integoverntmental scientific advisory body” comprising of government representatives who are experts in relevant fields, observes for non-party government, scientific community and other relevant organisations.

5. What is the Clearing-House Mechanism?

Art 18 of the CBD obligates parties to set up a clearing house mechanism (CHM). The purpose of the mechinsm is to share information on ABS mechanism and the information provided by the Parties to the CHM. It consists of the CBD wesbite , network of ational CHMs ad various partner instituitons.

6. What is a National Focal Point?

Art 13 of the CBD mandates each Party to designate one national focal point for access and benefit sharing. This focal point is responsible for sharing information on ABS (Access and Benefit Sharing ) mechanism with applicants seeking access to genetic resouces and traditional knowlegde associated with genetic resources. Information on competent national authorties and other stakeholders must be shared as well.India has designated the Ministry of Environement, Forest and Climate Change has been designated as the national focal point as provided in Art 13 of the CBD.

7. What are Aichi Targets ?

The Aichi Biodiversity targets are 20 short term , time bound , measurable targets that have to be met by the year 2020. These were adopted in COP-10 , at the Nagoya conference. The 20 strategic goals or targets, further strengthen the implementation of the CBD.

8. What are National Reports?

Art 26 of the CBD obligates each contracting party is required to submit a national review for reviewing the measures taken for implementing the CBD. The submission is to be done periodically. Five national reports have been submitted so far. The sixth national report will be submitted in 2018.

9. What are the Mechanisms for implementation of CBD?

The following mechanisms have been taken up to achieve the objective of CBD:
National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans: There are national strategies, plans or programmes that aid in realising the goals of CBD. Measures include mainstreaming these into all activities that can impact biodiversity.
National Reports: Article 26 of the CBD obligates the Parties to undertake periodic reporting of measures taken by them for effective implementation of CBD. So far five national reports have been submitted. Thee sixth national report will be submitted in 2018. Cooperation and Partnerships: This means that the Parties to the CBD have consistently endeavoured to cooperate ,coordinate and build partnerships with various conventions, organisations and initiatives . Under the aegis of CBD, various Memorandum of Cooperation and Joint Work Programmes have been signed.
Financial resources and Mechanism: New and additional financial resources and access to technology are critical to biodiversity conservation. Articles 20 and 21 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Article 28 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and Article 25of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization set out the framework of financing agenda under the Convention.
Clearing House Mechanism : Art 18 of the CBD obligates parties to set up a clearing house mechanism (CHM). The purpose of the mechinsm is to share information on ABS mechanism and the information provided by the Parties to the CHM. It consists of the CBD wesbite , network of ational CHMs ad various partner instituitons.
Biosafety Clearing House: Provides information on Living Modified Organisms as specified under the Cartagena Protocol.
LifeWeb for Financing Protected Areas: Provides financing for protected areas for the serving the objectives of the Convention.

10. What is the status of India’s biodiversity in comparison with the World?

India is one of the 17-mega biodiversity countries of the world. With only 2.4% of the land area, India already accounts for 7-8% of the recorded species of the world. Over 46,000 species of plants and 81,000 species of animals have been recorded in the country so far by the Botanical Survey of India and the Zoological Survey of India, respectively. India is an acknowledged centre of crop diversity, and harbours many wild relatives and breeds of domesticated animals and fish besides millions of microbial diversity, insects and other species. The ecosystem diversity of India is also unparalleled in comparison with other countries in the world.

11. We already have a number of Acts relating to forestry, wildlife etc. Why do we need this legislation on biodiversity?

The purpose of the Biodiversity Act is to realize equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources and associated knowledge. The main objectives of the Act are conservation, sustainable use and equitable benefit sharing out of the utilization of bioresources. The Act also covers the protection of traditional knowledge and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of such knowledge

12. What does the Biodiversity Act - 2002 primarily address?

The Biodiversity Act - 2002 primarily addresses issues of conservation, sustainable use of biological resources in the country, issue related to access to genetic resources and associated knowledge and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from utilization of biological resources to the country and its people

13. What are the implementation structures of Biodiversity Act – 2002?

The Act and the Rules are implemented in India through a decentralized system.
A three tiered structure has been established under the Act at the national, state and local levels.
At the local level, the Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) are to be established by institutions of local self-government for implementation of specific provisions of the Act and Rules.
At the state level, the State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) are established to deal with all matters relating to implementation of the Act and the Rules.
At the national level, the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) is established to deal with all matters relating to implementation of the Act and the Rules.
Each of these structure are required to be connected for decision making processes on various issues, including on issues of access and benefit sharing (ABS).

14. What are the mandates of the National Biodiversity Authority?

The National Biodiversity Authority is mandated to regulate use of India’s biological resources; facilitates/ enable conservation action and provides advice to Central and State Governments on issues of conservation, sustainable use and access and benefit sharing.

15. Is there any overlap in the functions of NBA and SBBs?

There is no overlap in the functions of NBA and SBBs on issues of ABS. Their domains and functions are very distinct from each other. All matters relating to requests by foreign individuals, companies or institutions and all matters relating to transfer of results of research to any foreigner, approvals for intellectual property protection where biological resources and associated knowledge are involved will be dealt with by NBA. All matters relating to access by Indians for commercial purposes will be under the purview of the concerned State Biodiversity Boards. However, the benefit sharing guidelines are to be issued by the NBA.

16. Will this legislation affect research by Indians in biological resources?

No. There is no requirement under the legislation for seeking permission for carrying out research, if it is carried out in India by Indians, as well as under collaborative research projects that have been drawn within the overall policy guidelines formulated by the Central Government vide notification S.O.1911(E) of Government of India. The only situations that would require permission of the NBA are: (i) when the results of any research which has made use of the country's biodiversity is sought to be commercialized, (ii) when the results of research are shared with a foreigner or foreign institution, and (iii) when a foreign institution/individual wants access to the country's biodiversity for undertaking research and (iv) when any intellectual property protection is sought on Indian biological resources.

17. Will this legislation impact collaborative research projects?

This legislation will not impact collaborative research projects. Section 5 exempts collaborative research projects from sections 3 and 4, provided these conform to the policy guidelines issued by the Central Government from time to time. Please refer to Notification S.O.1911(E) issued by Government of India on 8th November 2006 for this purpose. Collaborative research projects that have commercial utilization as a component however, need to seek prior permission of NBA since the exemption covers only research collaboration and not commercialization

18. Do Indian researchers require approval for obtaining biological resource for research purposes?

The Indian researchers neither require prior approval nor need to give prior intimation to SBB for obtaining biological resource for conducting research in India. In case the results are used for commercial purposes, prior intimation to the State Biodiversity Board is required under Section 7 of the Biological Diversity Act 2002.

19. How will the Act check biopiracy?

To check misappropriation of Indian biological resources, the Act provides that access to Indian biological resources and associated knowledge are subject to terms and conditions, which secure equitable sharing of benefits. Further, it would be required to obtain the approval of the National Biodiversity Authority before seeking any IPR based on biological material and associated knowledge obtained from India.

20. Does the legislation provide for any exemptions?

The legislation provides for the following exemptions :
a) Exemption to local people and communities of the area for free access to use biological resources within India
b) Exemptions to growers and cultivators of biodiversity and to Vaids and Hakims to use biological resources.
c) Exemption through notification of normally traded commodities from the purview of the Act only when used as commodity
d) Exemption for collaborative research through government sponsored or government approved institutions subject to overall policy guidelines and approval of the Central Government and conforms to the central government guidelines.