Team break-up may turn tables

With many members of India's much appreciated delegation to the 1992 Earth Summit being posted to other duties, lndia needs to plan now to face the "her tagemlions ahead.

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

EVEN THOUGH tough environmen- Indian delegation that took part in tal negotiations are still ahead in the the earlier discussions have been post-Rio Summit phase, many on the replaced. This could easily put India. at a disadvantage in forthcoming Ozone, Biodiversity and Climate Change convention and at meetings of the Commission on Sustainable Development and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

The official negotiating team existed for more than two years and took part in the negotiations leading to the Rio Summit in June 1992. In the process, its members developed considerable expertise on the subjects concerned. But now, most of these officials, delegated mainly from the ministries of environment and forests (MEF) and external affairs (MEA), have been transferred.

A new team from both ministries will be involved in future environmental negotiations, which include the governance mechanism of GEF; the Biodiversity Convention, with the West wary of intellectual property rights issues that it feels may go against Western economic interests; a separate protocol under the Biodiversity Convention on intellectual property rights that could open up a new can of worms, and Climate Convention negotiations that are sure to take up restrictions on energy use.

These changes, offioals admit privately, indicate a lack of serious thinking on the part of the Indian government. They stress a permanent cell is needed to handle the ongoing negotiations, as this will ensure the Indian delegation is experienced and can press for its environmental rights and its economic interests.

The confusion is further compounded, observers say, because neither ministry has been designated the nodal agency to handle these negotiations. In the run-up to Rio, Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao nominated MEF minister Kamal Nath to lead the Indian delegation. Now, experts warn a clear strategy must be devised without delay to achieve Indian goals in the environmental negotiations to come.

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