Biorights of Commons

BIORIGHTS OF COMMONS

Biorights is a neo-economic conservation paradigm that tries to protect areas of global ecological importance by compensating poor people that live near such nature areas and are dependent on the ecosystem services of these nature areas for cash generating activities. The hypothesis is that in this way a sustainable and inclusive development is possible as the negative link between poverty and nature degradation will wane away. In poverty alleviation the stakeholders need to be found in especially the public sector and to a lesser extent in the private sector of developed countries. But for the long term, involvement of the private sector, including the financial world, may become essential if Biorights is to become successful. At the same time Governments of developed countries might find it an effective way of investing for either climate finance, nature conservation- or development projects, and as well, governments in the developing countries concerned may find it an attractive solution to reach the SDGs,

The monetary value of nature has so far not been recognized by the world community with our current economic system and hence its value is only marginally present in the market. Mostly the costs of nature conservation are visible in the market and only the most obvious benefits, such as tourism revenues, are accounted for in the market. That is why it is not possible at present to make an unbiased cost-benefit analysis of existing nature reserves. Biorights could contribute to this by compensating local people in developing countries directly for not degrading the natural environment. The global average compensation cost that is needed to cover the opportunity costs of the local people, lies in the range of US$13.65 ha-1 yr-1. As a part to this end, though Biorights is not a new concept, it does hold elements that are new and have potentials to compensate the same, such as:

  • The direct payments to compensate for poverty related costs. These payments are also for the long term to guarantee a sustainable rural development.
  • The distribution of payments to communities and not to individuals on the basis of nature conservation

In order for Biorights to be successful we need cooperation of both the global community (public and private) and local people in developing countries. SAFE has the pride to successfully implement the first Biorights project in East Kolkata Wetland Ramsar site in India. The project is showcased as a best practice model in the 4th TEEB report of UNEP in 2010.

CLIMATE DIPLOMACY IN CITIES

Climate Smart Cities have globally developed a network aspiring to take action to combat climate change by developing and implementing policies and programs that generate measurable reductions in both greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks. The work that these networks accomplish is critical for reducing carbon emissions worldwide, but there is far more to be done. Keeping a focus on this, cities in the south globe are gearing up to join the forum while some like Dhaka in Bangladesh and Thimphu in Bhutan have already joined. An international symposium organized by SAFE, NCCSD, & Kennesaw University was attended by eminent experts who recommended that city of Guwahati should be included in smart city movement. Recommendations mostly included good governance for integrated solid waste management, delivery of essential services, disaster preparedness, drainage and water harvesting and also civil society leadership for citizen sensitization. Senior officer from the government sector also represented in the symposium and opined that it is expected that national and international support would be available for developing socioeconomic infrastructures in these cities to be selected as and among other climate smart cities.

SAFE has a strong urban presence in megacities of Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong and Patna, wherein it is meticulously chasing the Green City targets through local participation and stakeholder partnerships. SAFE works on municipal solid wastes and hazardous chemical waste disposal protocols, hospital waste disposal and overall waste management framework for reduction of landfill emissions and abatement of pollution. Further, urban forestry and vertical gardens for reducing the ‘Heat Island Effects’ in cities is another intervention of SAFE taken under the aegis of UNHABITAT. SAFE tirelessly works on water and emission footprint regulation in the cities through various corporate social responsibility windows and in partnership with urban local bodies and municipalities.

HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS

Hazardous Chemicals & Wastes

Contamination by chemicals is a global issue. While toxic chemicals are found practically in all ecosystems on earth, thus affecting biodiversity, agricultural production or water resources, scientists estimate that everyone today carries within her or his body a large number of chemical contaminants, for which the health impact is not precisely known. At the end of their life, chemicals are recycled or disposed as part of waste. The inappropriate management of such waste (e.g. through open burning) poses negative impacts on human health and the environment.

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

Of all the pollutants released into the environment by human activity, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are among the most dangerous. POPs are pesticides, industrial chemicals, or unwanted by-products of industrial processes that have been used for decades but have more recently been found to share a number of disturbing characteristics. POPs are highly toxic and long-lasting, and cause an array of adverse effects, including disease and birth defects in humans and animals. Some of the severe health impacts from POPs include cancer, damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, reproductive disorders, and disruption of the immune system. These synthetic chemicals move everywhere, even through the placental barrier and into the womb, exposing the unborn during the most vulnerable stages of development. POPs do not respect international borders, and are often intergenerational, affecting both adults and their children. POPs can affect people and wildlife even at very low doses. The serious environmental and human health hazards created by these chemicals particularly affect developing countries, where systems and technology for monitoring, tracking, and disposing of them can be weak or nonexistent. SAFE would like to play a catalytic role in elimination and reduction of harmful chemicals and waste by fulfilling the Objectives of Conventions on hazardous chemicals and wastes, including hospital wastes.

The Stockholm Convention; It currently focuses on 21 POPs of immediate concern: pesticides, industrial chemicals, and unintentional byproducts – resulting from combustion and industrial processes and among the most potent cancer-causing chemicals known.

Rotterdam Convention: It promotes shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals. The convention promotes open exchange of information and calls on exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labeling, include directions on safe handling, and inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans. More details are available at here.

SAFE recommends and advocates country-driven institutional strengthening at the national level, in the context of an integrated approach to address the financing of the sound management of chemicals and wastes, taking into account the national development strategies, plans and priorities for each country, to increase sustainable public institutional capacity for the sound management of chemicals and wastes throughout their life cycle. Institutional strengthening will expectedly facilitate and enable the implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, the Minamata Convention and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, enhancing the sustainable institutional capacity of Governments to develop, adopt, monitor and enforce policy, legislation and regulation, as well as to gain access to financial and other resources for effective frameworks for the implementation of the Instruments for the sound management of chemicals and wastes throughout their life cycle.