In 2017, India initiated the process of preparing its Sixth National Report (6NR) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). India has previously submitted five national reports to CBD in 1998, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2014.
The Government of India has ensured that the 6NR process identifies and includes key stakeholders from all sectors and regions, and that an adequate number of stakeholder consultations are held to collect data on the progress towards the implementation of India’s National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) including its 12 National Biodiversity Targets (NBTs).
This best practice highlights India’s nationwide participative and inclusive approach to develop its 6NR, during the different stages of the national reporting process.
This case study has been repurposed from the stakeholder engagement video shared by the Government of India and UNDP India during SBSTTA- 21 (2017). Video coming soon.
Lack of a thorough consultative process can result in a highly uneven participation in the policy development process.
Consultations promote flow of information across related government departments and other relevant stakeholders, inter-ministerial coordination, as well as strengthen data accuracy.
Effective stakeholder engagement will ensure that their knowledge and contributions are incorporated into 6NR, and will therefore promote ownership of the report among them. It also ensures stakeholder participation in follow-up activities based on 6NR outputs and findings.
Article 26 of CBD requires Parties to periodically submit a national report that describes the measures they are taking to implement the Convention, and the effectiveness of those measures in meeting CBD’s objectives.
The thirteenth Conference of Parties (CoP) to CBD in its Decision XIII/27, adopted the 6NR guidelines and reporting templates. Parties are expected to submit their 6NRs by 31 December 2018. This reporting period aims to provide a final review of the progress each Party is making to implement the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (ABTs). One of the key elements of the 6NR process is to ensure that there is adequate stakeholder engagement at different stages of the reporting process, and that the stakeholders take ownership of the 6NR conclusions.
In early 2017, and as part of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) - Global Environment Facility (GEF) project entitled “Support to Eligible Parties to Produce the Sixth National Report to CBD”, India initiated the process of preparing its 6NR. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) as the national focal point for CBD is the lead agency preparing the 6NR. MoEFCC developed a detailed workplan, in collaboration with the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) - an autonomous body of MoEFCC, and UNDP India – the implementing partner for the UNDP-GEF 6NR project.
India’s 6NR process involved all stakeholders who play a key role in ensuring the implementation of India’s NBAP and the achievement of its 12 NBTs. These include:
- Administrative officers from Ministries and State departments/Union Territories;
- Representatives of local communities and their organizations;
- Research institutions and Centers of Excellence of MoEFCC;
- Private sector;
- Representatives of various sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism, mining, energy, transport, manufacturing;
- Environmental management bodies;
- Civil society organizations; and
- Women’s organizations.
To ensure that a stakeholder-owned 6NR is developed and submitted to the CBD, the Government of India, in collaboration with UNDP India, conducted one national consultation, five regional consultations, two NBT-focused consultations, seventeen state-level consultations, several personal and telephonic interviews to seek inputs from relevant stakeholders on key thematic areas.
Below is a brief summary of the nature of consultations conducted for developing India’s 6NR:
I. Regional Consultations: In the year 2017, MoEFCC, in association with NBA and UNDP India, organized five, two-day regional consultations. These consultations were attended by state-level policymakers of all 29 provincial states, representing various departments such as agriculture, planning, horticulture, fisheries, tourism, and industry; as well as members of academia, industry and civil society.
- Objective. The regional consultations aimed at (1) seeking inputs and guidance from concerned stakeholders for the preparation of India’s 6NR; and (2) sensitizing and creating awareness about India’s NBAP, NBTs, and their inter-linkages with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Inter-departmental working group sessions were conducted to promote interaction and foster discussions among policy makers.
- A brochure on “Mainstreaming Biodiversity” (www.nationalreport6.in) was released and circulated in English and Hindi languages. This brochure was later translated into six regional languages with the support of the State Biodiversity Boards.
- Two detailed worksheets to help map, verify and validate biodiversity-related actions at the state level were prepared and completed during group activities.
- A dedicated 6NR web portal (www.nationalreport6.in) was launched to enable stakeholders to contribute inputs virtually.
II. NBT-wise thematic workshops: The objective of the thematic workshops was to gather data on the activities being undertaken by participating organizations towards the implementation and achievement of national biodiversity targets. Wildlife Institute of India, a specialized institution of MoEFCC (Centers of Excellence) was engaged to organize consultations on NBT 6. Similarly, UNDP India organized consultations on NBT 1. Other smaller subject-specific workshops/ meetings were held with technical institutions such as National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) and the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institutes(CMFRI).
III. State-wise consultations were held with stakeholders from concerned sectoral departments, civil society organizations, industry and academia. A guidance note and two worksheets for group activities were designed for seeking inputs on biodiversity-related activities.
IV. National consultation: A national consultation was held with all concerned ministries and departments to review the zero draft of the 6NR prepared by the 6NR drafting committee. Specific inputs on contribution of women and local communities in the implementation of various schemes and plans, and efforts at gender mainstreaming were noted.
V. Review of draft 6NR: The above mentioned regional, state and thematic consultations were followed by the review of a zero 6NR draft during national consultations. Subsequent 6NR drafts are being reviewed and finalized by experts and the 6NR drafting team.
The 6NR drafting committee is responsible for compiling, analyzing, and putting information into 6NR format. Inputs are informed by:
- Regional consultations, including from the worksheets completed by stakeholders attending the consultations;
- State-wise consultations, including the worksheets completed by stakeholders attending the consultations;
- NBT-wise thematic consultations;
- Information contributed by stakeholders through the 6NR web portal;
- Desk review;
- Reports from the Government of India – UNDP Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN);
- India Biodiversity Awards nominations;
- Inputs from expert and others.
- Multi-stakeholder consultations for developing 6NR provided an excellent opportunity to document progress on the implementation of NBAP and its NBTs across India. It also enabled the exchange of information and best practices across different regions and sectors, thus promoting biodiversity mainstreaming.
- Active participation of India’s 29 State Biodiversity Boards built the capacity of representatives, and educated them about the 6NR preparation process.
- State level consultations also helped communicate the urgent need to collect data on the progress made to achieve NBTs at the state level. It also helped set up a mechanism for the systematic collection of data for future national reporting and helped streamline some of the biodiversity-related indicators.
- A national-level web portal for submission of information on the achievement of NBTs has simplified the 6NR data collection process. It has enabled the government to reach maximum number of stakeholders across the country.
- The information package developed for the regional workshops, which was also translated into several regional languages, proved to be a very useful tool to educate and reach a wide range of stakeholders on India’s NBAP, NBTs, inter-linkages with SDGs, biodiversity finance, and the 6NR process.
- Approximately 400 stakeholders participated in the five regional workshops, including government officials of all 29 provincial states, and representatives of national level institutions, civil society organizations, academia and industry.
- The stakeholder consultations served a dual purpose of seeking inputs for 6NR, as well as, heightening and reinforcing awareness and commitment of relevant stakeholders towards the implementation of NBAP, NBTs, and SDGs.
- The regional stakeholder consultations received extensive media coverage. Using social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter helped raise awareness about India’s NBAP and NBTs. This led to several relevant stakeholders contributing to the 6NR process through India’s 6NR web portal.
- For the five regional workshops held in 2017, the Central Government and State governments contributed USD $ 600,000 in-kind co-finance. UNDP India provided additional funds from its core resources for these workshops.
- To support the 6NR process at the state-level through multiple stakeholder consultations, MoEFCC provided financial and technical assistance of US$ 100,000 to the state governments.