Skip to main content

Voluntary commitments can protect the ocean ( downtoearth)


The day (June 7) ended with as many as 1,001 voluntary commitments registered on the UN Ocean Conference site. The meeting is unique as the call of action, which would be adopted on June 9, is not mandatory. Even a legally binding Paris agreement is not very successful, so why should voluntary commitments work?

However, experts at the meeting feel that these would work better. They feel that the time taken over the negotiations is not worth the outcome. Carl Gustaf Lundin, the director of International Union for Conservation of Nature's Global Marine and Polar Programme says that negotiations generally lead to mediocre agreements as countries do not like to be told what to do. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which was ratified in 1994 has still not been signed by countries like the USA. The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments took 10 years to be negotiated upon and just got ratified. During this time, invasive species continued to be dispersed across the world. These were the 20 years when action would have helped.

The UN Ocean Conference is doing away with this time lag. It hopes to protect the ocean through voluntary commitments from a variety of stakeholders. Data suggests that this might work. For example, out of the 1,001 commitments, 44 per cent are by governments, followed by 19 per cent made by the civil society members. The private industry has made 6 per cent of the 1,001 commitments. Lundin says that some of the commitments made by the governments are very significant. For example, the German government has provided money for mangrove protection, Cook Islands will put the put its Exclusive Economic Zone for marine conservation, Gabon has kept a third of its water for conservation. Private industry has an important stake for adhering to the commitments as it helps them build and strengthen their image.



Voluntary commitments at the UN Ocean Conference. Credit: www.oceanconference.un.org
Voluntary commitments at the UN Ocean Conference. Credit: www.oceanconference.un.org

The voluntary commitments would need to be followed by action on the ground. Governments could take local action to ensure that the commitments are met. The commitments also need to be accompanied by policies, laws, and changes in individual's buying habits, such as buying sustainable products, sustainably harvested fish, and products which do not harm the oceans, says Dan Shepard from the UN Department of Public Information.

So far, India has not made any voluntary commitments but is likely to make a few over the last two days. Meanwhile, our neighbouring countries have already made their presence felt. Sri Lanka has made six, Myanmar has made three, Bangladesh has made two commitments, Pakistan has made one and even land-locked Nepal has made one commitment. India’s partner-in-pollution-crime, China, has made five commitments.

It would be interesting to see what India finally commits to.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cloud seeding

Demonstrating the function of the flare rack that carries silver iodide for cloud-seeding through an aircraft. 
Water is essential for life on the earth. Precipitation from the skies is the only source for it. India and the rest of Asia are dependent on the monsoons for rains. While the South West Monsoon is the main source for India as a whole, Tamil Nadu and coastal areas of South Andhra Pradesh get the benefit of the North East Monsoon, which is just a less dependable beat on the reversal of the South West Monsoon winds.

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

India’s criminal wastage: over 10 million works under MGNREGA incomplete or abandoned (hindu)

In the last three and half years, the rate of work completion under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has drastically declined, leading to wastage of public money and leaving villages more prone to drought. This could also be a reason for people moving out of the programme.

At a time when more than one-third of India’s districts are reeling under a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall, here comes another bad news. The works started under the MGNREGA—close to 80 per cent related to water conservation, irrigation and land development—are increasingly not being completed or in practice, abandoned.

Going by the data (as on October 12) in the Ministry of Rural Development’s website, which tracks progress of MGNREGA through a comprehensive MIS, 10.4 million works have not been completed since April 2014. In the last three and half years, 39.7 million works were started under the programme. Going by the stipulation under the programme, close to 7…