29.03.2019

First meeting of Indo-German Working Group on Biodiversity and visit of IKI wetlands management project

Members of the German-Indian Working Group on Biodiversity and represants of a local tourism initiative at Chilika Lake; Photo ©Ritesh Kumar/Wetlands International

Members of the German-Indian Working Group on Biodiversity and represants of a local tourism initiative at Chilika Lake; Photo ©Ritesh Kumar/Wetlands International

The first meeting of the Indo-German Working Group on Biodiversity was held in New Delhi, India on 12 February 2019, at the margins of the Third Indo-German Environment Forum. The meeting was attended by delegations from the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU), who met and discussed topics of mutual interest in the area of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The bilateral Working Group on Biodiversity was one of the outcomes of the fourth Inter-Governmental Consultations in Berlin that took place in May 2017 and was established at the highest level by His Excellency Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In their opening remarks of the Working Group meeting Dr. Sujata Arora (Advisor, Biodiversity) of MoEFCC and Dr. Karsten Sach (Director General, International and European Policy, Climate Policy) of BMU acknowledged and appreciated the long standing, trustful and successful cooperation between India and Germany.

During the meeting, participants presented and discussed ongoing IKI biodiversity projects in India such as BIOFIN, Private Business Action for Biodiversity and INTERACT-Bio. Implementing agencies and partners representatives from the India Business and Biodiversity Initiative, National Biodiversity Authority, Wetlands international and ICLEI South Asia also presented the status of ongoing IKI biodiversity projects. The meeting provided a unique platform for extensive exchange between implementing organizations and political partners on the current status and future activities of the projects. A follow-up meeting is planned to take place, as part of the IKI interface workshop.

The Working Group meeting further allowed an exchange on conservation initiatives and challenges in India and Germany, presenting certain differences but moreover identifying common concerns and challenges for and within both countries. Following a presentation on the International Climate Initiative (IKI), with a focus on its funding area biodiversity and the cooperation in India, the ground was set to specify topics of mutual interest for future Working Group meetings.

For the way forward, the Working Group identified three pillars for future cooperation:

  • India and Germany as strategic and strong partners in CBD processes and negotiations;
  • exchange at technical level on topics of mutual interest; and
  • cooperation projects supported under the IKI.

IKI wetlands management project

As part of the meeting, from 14 - 15 February 2019, members of the Working Group visited the IKI project "Wetlands Management for Biodiversity and Climate Protection", which since September 2018 is being implemented by the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für international Zusammenarbeit). The delegation travelled to the Ramsar Site of Chilika Lake in the state of Odisha, which represents one of the model sites supported by the project.

During 1950-2000, the degradation of the lake's ecosystem and increasing siltation from catchments choked the lagoon's connection with the Bay of Bengal resulting in a major disruption in ecosystem benefits to society, including a decrease of fishing yield by roughly 80%. As a consequence, ecological restoration measures and improved management plans were implemented by the Chilika Development Authority in cooperation with various conservation initiatives. In 2000, following recommendations from modelling studies and stakeholder consultations, a new 'mouth' to the Bay of Bengal was opened. A comprehensive lake basin management programme is being implemented since then, incorporating components of catchment revegetation, maintaining hydrological regimes, sustainable fisheries, livelihood improvement and communication and outreach. However, discussions with the relevant authorities highlighted that the lake remains threatened by a variety of anthropogenic activities and more recently by an increased amount of natural extreme events (rising sea water level, changing monsoon patterns).

Chilika and the other pilot sites of the IKI project offer advantageous framework conditions to develop instruments and strategies that allow upscaling to national and state level and possible lessons learned sharing within the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. These include innovative wetland monitoring systems to track management effectiveness and integrated management plans based on biodiversity, ecosystem services and climate change risks, which will be developed for the pilot sites. The project will further implement adapted capacity development measures, which will be carried out at national, state and site level for integrated wetland management.