National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

From 2000 to 2003, Kalpavriksh coordinated a nation-wide process to prepare India’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. This process, under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, was sponsored by GEF/United Nations Development Programme. Kalpavriksh set up a 15-member Technical and Policy Core Group, which identified and commissioned over 100 groups and individuals around the country to prepare action plans at local, state, ecoregional, and thematic levels. The process involved extensive consultation, public hearings, cultural events, workshops, exercises in educational institutions, media outreach, and other methods of reaching out to tens of thousands of people. A major focus was on getting the inputs of local communities living in or depending on forests, wetlands, seas, grasslands, and other natural ecosystems and resources, and on farms and pastures. Over 50,000 people were involved in these activities.

The outputs of the process included action plans for 30 states, 16 substate (local) sites, 10 ecoregions (cutting across states), and 13 themes. Also produced were 33 review papers on various thematic issues. Towards the end of the process, all these outputs and the learnings from the process were put together into a draft national plan. This draft was shared widely, discussed at a national workshops, and finalized based on inputs received from hundreds of individuals and organizations.

Till late 2003, the MoEF was committed to accepting the finalized draft as the national action plan; however, with a change in the senior bureaucracy, it went back on its word. Finally, the draft was accepted only as a Final Technical Report (FTR) of the NBSAP process, and submitted by MoEF to UNDP. After trying to get MoEF to publish this for a year or so, Kalpavriksh went ahead and published it in the form of a summary with a CD containing the full national plan and all other outputs.

Despite intense lobbying, MoEF never accepted the FTR-NBSAP as the action plan; only in 2008 did it produce a final action plan, which is a brief document that reads more like a broad strategy paper than an action plan. Indeed it only goes a little bit ahead of a document it had itself released in 1999, the National Policy and Macro-level Action Strategy on Biodiversity.

Despite this setback, a number of outcomes of the NBSAP process have been positive. This includes the widespread networking that resulted in many new partnerships and exchanges of experience, the incorporation of several points from the FTR-NBSAP into the 11th 5 Year Plan, the publication of and consideration of several state action plans for implementation, and generation of awareness through various events and media coverage.