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Parties to Convention on Biological Diversity failed to achieve Aichi Targets, adopt new targets

Written By mediavigil on Wednesday, December 21, 2022 | 9:41 PM

The role of chemical pollution in biodiversity loss featured so prominently ever as in the targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The main focus of the 15th Conference of Parties to CBD, as to establish Post-2020 targets to replace the Aichi Biodiversity Targets which expired in 2020 without having acted on anyone of the four goals and 20 targets and to adopt new goals and targets. It is noteworthy that USA, the biggest polluter is a non-party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Vatican is also a non-party to it. 

The Aichi Biodiversity Targets were included in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for the 2011-2020 period adopted by the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the CBD. It adopted four goals and 20 targets. The four goals and the 20 targets were: 

Strategic Goal A. Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society

 Strategic Goal B. Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use

 Strategic Goal C. To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity

 Strategic Goal D. Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services

 Strategic Goal E. Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building

Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society

Target 1

By 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.

Target 2

By 2020, at the latest, biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes and are being incorporated into national accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems.

Target 3

By 2020, at the latest, incentives, including subsidies, harmful to biodiversity are eliminated, phased out or reformed in order to minimize or avoid negative impacts, and positive incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are developed and applied, consistent and in harmony with the Convention and other relevant international obligations, taking into account national socio-economic conditions.

Target 4

By 2020, at the latest, Governments, business and stakeholders at all levels have taken steps to achieve or have implemented plans for sustainable production and consumption and have kept the impacts of use of natural resources well within safe ecological limits.

Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use

Target 5

By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.

Target 6

By 2020 all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably, legally and applying ecosystem based approaches, so that overfishing is avoided, recovery plans and measures are in place for all depleted species, fisheries have no significant adverse impacts on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems and the impacts of fisheries on stocks, species and ecosystems are within safe ecological limits.

Target 7

By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity.

Target 8

By 2020, pollution, including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity.

Target 9

By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.

Target 10

By 2015, the multiple anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs, and other vulnerable ecosystems impacted by climate change or ocean acidification are minimized, so as to maintain their integrity and functioning.

Strategic Goal C: To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity

Target 11

By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.

Target 12

By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.

Target 13

By 2020, the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and of wild relatives, including other socio-economically as well as culturally valuable species, is maintained, and strategies have been developed and implemented for minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.

Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services

Target 14

By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.

Target 15

By 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.

Target 16

By 2015, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization is in force and operational, consistent with national legislation.

Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building

Target 17

By 2015 each Party has developed, adopted as a policy instrument, and has commenced implementing an effective, participatory and updated national biodiversity strategy and action plan.

Target 18

By 2020, the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and their customary use of biological resources, are respected, subject to national legislation and relevant international obligations, and fully integrated and reflected in the implementation of the Convention with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities, at all relevant levels.

Target 19

By 2020, knowledge, the science base and technologies relating to biodiversity, its values, functioning, status and trends, and the consequences of its loss, are improved, widely shared and transferred, and applied.

Target 20

By 2020, at the latest, the mobilization of financial resources for effectively implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 from all sources, and in accordance with the consolidated and agreed process in the Strategy for Resource Mobilization, should increase substantially from the current levels. This target will be subject to changes contingent to resource needs assessments to be developed and reported by Parties. 

CBD concluded a two-week COP15 in Montreal, Canada on 19 December. 

The CBD process has been mentioned many times in connection with the 

"Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)

Beyond 2020" which will also establish goals and targets and finalize them in 2023.  

Target 7, one of the 23 targets adopted at COP15 of CBD addresses  the impacts of pollution to levels “not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, considering cumulative effects…” The targets also have as a goal to “significantly reduce overconsumption and substantially reduce waste generation.” Surprisingly, the CBD targets also mention, “preventing, reducing, and working towards eliminating plastic pollution.”  

The targets also specifically state as a goal to “ensure gender equality… through a gender-responsive approach where all women and girls have equal opportunity and capacity to contribute to the three objectives of the Convention, including by recognizing their equal rights and access to land and natural resources and their full, equitable, meaningful and informed participation and leadership at all levels of action, engagement, policy and decision-making related to biodiversity.” This includes “full, equitable, inclusive, effective and gender-responsive representation and participation in decision-making, and access to justice and information related to biodiversity by indigenous peoples and local communities, respecting their cultures and their rights over lands, territories, resources, and traditional knowledge, as well as by women and girls, children and youth, and persons with disabilities and ensure the full protection of environmental human rights defenders.” 

The targets deal with financing. In addition to the usual set of options, the targets set a clear financial resources goal of “mobilizing at least 200 billion United States dollars per year.” In addition, the targets name a specific amount that developed countries should be financing; “US$ 20 billion per year by 2025, and to at least US$ 30 billion per year by 2030…” 

The most significant outcome of CBD is it's focus on rights of nature and Mother Earth and food waste besides targets  6, 7, 8, 13 and 17. 

If governments acts according to the above focus and targets biodiversity loss will be considerably reduced especially in the light of target 13.

Business as usual approach of governments disregarding commitments in response to climate crisis and biodiversity loss. 

If the Indian state and non-state actors do not internalise outcomes of CBD15 in their relevant laws, policies, programmes, incentives and in their mega land use and sea use change projects it will not consequent into any concrete remedial measures. 

After the submission of the joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on Biological Diversity Amendment Act 2022 in August 2022, the final revised bill is all set to be introduced in the current session of the Parliament after internalising the outcome of the COP15.

 Gopal Krishna



Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework with four 4 goals, 23 targets to reverse biodiversity loss adopted

Written By mediavigil on Monday, December 19, 2022 | 5:24 PM

NATIONS ADOPT FOUR GOALS, 23 TARGETS FOR 2030 IN LANDMARK UN BIODIVERSITY AGREEMENT

By 2030: Protect 30% of Earth’s lands, oceans, coastal areas, inland waters; Reduce by $500 billion annual harmful government subsidies; Cut food waste in half

At the conclusion of a two-week long meeting, nations of the world agreed on 19 December 2022 for a historic package of measures deemed critical to addressing the dangerous loss of biodiversity and restoring natural ecosystems.

The meeting was convened under UN auspices, chaired by China, and hosted by Canada, the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity adopted the “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework” (GBF), including four goals and 23 targets for achievement by 2030.

Among the global targets for 2030:

Effective conservation and management of at least 30% of the world’s lands, inland waters, coastal areas and oceans, with emphasis on areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and services. The GBF prioritizes ecologically-representative, well-connected and equitably-governed systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation, recognizing indigenous and traditional territories and practices. Currently 17% and 10% of the world’s terrestrial and marine areas respectively are under protection.

Have restoration completed or underway on at least 30% of degraded terrestrial, inland waters, and coastal and marine ecosystems

Reduce to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance,including ecosystems of high ecological integrity

Cut global food waste in half and significantly reduce over consumption and waste generation

Reduce by half both excess nutrients and the overall risk posed by pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals

Progressively phase out or reform by 2030 subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least $500 billion per year, while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity’s conservation and sustainable use

Mobilize by 2030 at least $200 billion per year in domestic and international biodiversity-related funding from all sources – public and private

Raise international financial flows from developed to developing countries,in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and countries with economies in transition, to at least US$ 20 billion per year by 2025, and to at least US$ 30 billion per year by 2030

Prevent the introduction of priority invasive alien species, and reduce by at least half the introduction and establishment of other known or potential invasive alien species, and eradicate or control invasive alien species on islands and other priority sites

Require large and transnational companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, supply and value chains and portfolios

It has been admitted that “Without such action, there will be a further acceleration in the global rate of species extinction, which is already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years.”

The framework’s four overarching global goals:

GOAL A

The integrity, connectivity and resilience of all ecosystems are maintained,enhanced, or restored, substantially increasing the area of natural ecosystems by 2050;

Human induced extinction of known threatened species is halted, and, by 2050, extinction rate and risk of all species are reduced tenfold, and the abundance of native wild species is increased to healthy and resilient levels;

The genetic diversity within populations of wild and domesticated species,is maintained, safeguarding their adaptive potential.

GOAL B

Biodiversity is sustainably used and managed and nature’s contributions to people, including ecosystem functions and services, are valued, maintained and enhanced, with those currently in decline being restored, supporting the achievement of sustainable development, for the benefit of present and future generations by 2050.

GOAL C

The monetary and non-monetary benefits from the utilization of genetic resources, and digital sequence information on genetic resources, and of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, as applicable, are shared fairly and equitably, including, as appropriate with indigenous peoples and local communities, and substantially increased by 2050, while ensuring traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources is appropriately protected, thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, in accordance with internationally agreed access and benefit-sharing instruments.

GOAL D

Adequate means of implementation, including financial resources, capacity-building, technical and scientific cooperation, and access to and transfer of technology to fully implement the Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity framework are secured and equitably accessible to all Parties, especially developing countries, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing States, as well as countries with economies in transition,progressively closing the biodiversity finance gap of $700 billion per year,and aligning financial flows with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity.

COP15 was held in Montreal, Canada during December 7-19. Representatives of 188 governments on site (95% of all 196 Parties to the UN CBD, as well as two non-Parties – the United States and The Vatican), finalized and approved measures to arrest the ongoing loss of terrestrial and marine biodiversity and set humanity in the direction of a sustainable relationship with nature, with clear indicators to measure progress. 

In addition to the GBF, the meeting approved a series of related agreements on its implementation, including planning, monitoring, reporting and review;resource mobilization; helping nations to build their capacity to meet the obligations; and digital sequence information on genetic resources.

For example, The Global Environment Facility has been requested to establish, as soon as possible, a Special Trust Fund to support the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework (“GBF Fund”). The fund would complement existing support and scale up financing to ensure the timely implementation of the GBF with adequate, predictable and timely flow of funds.

Digital sequence information on genetic resources – a dominant topic at COP15 –has many commercial and non-commercial applications, including pharmaceutical product development, improved crop breeding, taxonomy, and the monitoring of invasive species.

COP15 delegates have agreed to establish within the GBF a multilateral fund for the equitable sharing of benefits between providers and users of DSI, to be finalized at COP16 in Türkiye in 2024.

The agreement also obligates countries to monitor and report every five years or less on a large set of "headline" and other indicators related to progress against the GBF's goals and targets.

Headline indicators include the percent of land and seas effective conserved, the number of companies disclosing their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity,and many others.

The CBD will combine national information submitted by late February 2026 and late June 2029 into global trend and progress reports.

Emphasized throughout the approved documents are the needs to foster the full and effective contributions of women, persons of diverse gender identities, youth,indigenous peoples and local communities, civil society organizations, the private and financial sectors, and stakeholders from all other sectors.

Also emphasized: the need for a “whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach” to implementing the GBF.

Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework: 23 targets

TARGET 1

Ensure that all areas are under participatory integrated biodiversity inclusive spatial planning and/or effective management processes addressing land and sea use change, to bring the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance, including ecosystems of high ecological integrity, close to zero by 2030, while respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.

TARGET 2

Ensure that by 2030 at least 30 per cent of areas of degraded terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine ecosystems are under effective restoration, in order to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, ecological integrity and connectivity.

TARGET 3

Ensure and enable that by 2030 at least 30 per cent of terrestrial, inland water,and coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are effectively conserved and managed through ecologically representative, well-connected and equitably governed systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, recognizing indigenous and traditional territories, where applicable,and integrated into wider landscapes, seascapes and the ocean, while ensuring that any sustainable use, where appropriate in such areas, is fully consistent with conservation outcomes, recognizing and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities including over their traditional territories.

TARGET 4

Ensure urgent management actions, to halt human induced extinction of known threatened species and for the recovery and conservation of species, in particular threatened species, to significantly reduce extinction risk, as well as to maintain and restore the genetic diversity within and between populations of native, wild and domesticated species to maintain their adaptive potential, including through in situ and ex situ conservation and sustainable management practices, and effectively manage human-wildlife interactions to minimize human-wildlife conflict for coexistence.

TARGET 5

Ensure that the use, harvesting and trade of wild species is sustainable, safe and legal, preventing overexploitation, minimizing impacts on non-target species and ecosystems, and reducing the risk of pathogen spill-over, applying the ecosystem approach, while respecting and protecting customary sustainable use by indigenous peoples and local communities.

TARGET 6

Eliminate, minimize, reduce and or mitigate the impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity and ecosystem services by identifying and managing pathways of the introduction of alien species, preventing the introduction and establishment of priority invasive alien species, reducing the rates of introduction and establishment of other known or potential invasive alien species by at least 50 percent, by 2030, eradicating or controlling invasive alien species especially in priority sites, such as islands .

TARGET 7

Reduce pollution risks and the negative impact of pollution from all sources, by2030, to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, considering cumulative effects, including: reducing excess nutrients lost to the environment by at least half including through more efficient nutrient cycling and use; reducing the overall risk from pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals by at least half including through integrated pest management, based on science, taking into account food security and livelihoods; and also preventing,reducing, and working towards eliminating plastic pollution.

TARGET 8

Minimize the impact of climate change and ocean acidification on biodiversity and increase its resilience through mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk reduction actions, including through nature-based solution and/or ecosystem-based approaches, while minimizing negative and fostering positive impacts of climate action on biodiversity.

TARGET 9

Ensure that the management and use of wild species are sustainable, thereby providing social, economic and environmental benefits for people, especially those in vulnerable situations and those most dependent on biodiversity,including through sustainable biodiversity-based activities, products and services that enhance biodiversity, and protecting and encouraging customary sustainable use by indigenous peoples and local communities.

TARGET 10

Ensure that areas under agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry are managed sustainably, in particular through the sustainable use of biodiversity,including through a substantial increase of the application of biodiversity friendly practices, such as sustainable intensification, agroecological and other innovative approaches contributing to the resilience and long-term efficiency and productivity of these production systems and to food security, conserving and restoring biodiversity and maintaining nature’s contributions to people,including ecosystem functions and services.

TARGET 11

Restore, maintain and enhance nature’s contributions to people, including ecosystem functions and services, such as regulation of air, water, and climate,soil health, pollination and reduction of disease risk, as well as protection from natural hazards and disasters, through nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches for the benefit of all people and nature.

TARGET 12

Significantly increase the area and quality and connectivity of, access to, and benefits from green and blue spaces in urban and densely populated areas sustainably, by mainstreaming the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and ensure biodiversity-inclusive urban planning, enhancing native biodiversity, ecological connectivity and integrity, and improving human health and well-being and connection to nature and contributing to inclusive and sustainable urbanization and the provision of ecosystem functions and services.

TARGET 13

Take effective legal, policy, administrative and capacity-building measures at all levels, as appropriate, to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits that arise from the utilization of genetic resources and from digital sequence information on genetic resources, as well as traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, and facilitating appropriate access to genetic resources,and by 2030 facilitating a significant increase of the benefits shared, in accordance with applicable international access and benefit-sharing instruments.

TARGET 14

Ensure the full integration of biodiversity and its multiple values into policies,regulations, planning and development processes, poverty eradication strategies,strategic environmental assessments, environmental impact assessments and, as appropriate, national accounting, within and across all levels of government and across all sectors, in particular those with significant impacts on biodiversity,progressively aligning all relevant public and private activities, fiscal and financial flows with the goals and targets of this framework.

TARGET 15

Take legal, administrative or policy measures to encourage and enable business,and in particular to ensure that large and transnational companies and financial institutions:

(a) Regularly monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks,dependencies and impacts on biodiversity including with requirements for all large as well as transnational companies and financial institutions along their operations, supply and value chains and portfolios;

(b) Provide information needed to consumers to promote sustainable consumption patterns;

(c) Report on compliance with access and benefit-sharing regulations and measures, as applicable;

in order to progressively reduce negative impacts on biodiversity, increase positive impacts, reduce biodiversity-related risks to business and financial institutions, and promote actions to ensure sustainable patterns of production.

TARGET 16

Ensure that people are encouraged and enabled to make sustainable consumption choices including by establishing supportive policy, legislative or regulatory frameworks, improving education and access to relevant and accurate information and alternatives, and by 2030, reduce the global footprint of consumption in an equitable manner, halve global food waste, significantly educe overconsumption and substantially reduce waste generation, in order for all people to live well in harmony with Mother Earth.

TARGET 17

Establish, strengthen capacity for, and implement in all countries in biosafety measures as set out in Article 8(g) of the Convention on Biological Diversity and measures for the handling of biotechnology and distribution of its benefits as set out in Article 19 of the Convention.

TARGET 18

Identify by 2025, and eliminate, phase out or reform incentives, including subsidies harmful for biodiversity, in a proportionate, just, fair, effective and equitable way, while substantially and progressively reducing them by at least500 billion United States dollars per year by 2030, starting with the most harmful incentives, and scale up positive incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

TARGET 19

Substantially and progressively increase the level of financial resources from all sources, in an effective, timely and easily accessible manner, including domestic,international, public and private resources, in accordance with Article 20 of the Convention, to implement national biodiversity strategies and action plans, by2030 mobilizing at least 200 billion United States dollars per year, including by:

(a) Increasing total biodiversity related international financial resources from developed countries, including official development assistance, and from countries that voluntarily assume obligations of developed country Parties, to developing countries, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing States, as well as countries with economies in transition, to at least US$ 20 billion per year by 2025, and to at least US$ 30 billion per year by 2030;

(b) Significantly increasing domestic resource mobilization, facilitated by the preparation and implementation of national biodiversity finance plans or similar instruments according to national needs, priorities and circumstances

(c) Leveraging private finance, promoting blended finance, implementing strategies for raising new and additional resources, and encouraging the private sector to invest in biodiversity, including through impact funds and other instruments;

(d) Stimulating innovative schemes such as payment for ecosystem services,green bonds, biodiversity offsets and credits, benefit-sharing mechanisms, with environmental and social safeguards

(e) Optimizing co-benefits and synergies of finance targeting the biodiversity and climate crises,

(f) Enhancing the role of collective actions, including by indigenous peoples and local communities, Mother Earth centric actions and non-market-based approaches including community based natural resource management and civil society cooperation and solidarity aimed at the conservation of biodiversity

(g) Enhancing the effectiveness, efficiency and transparency of resource provision and use;

TARGET 20

Strengthen capacity-building and development, access to and transfer of technology, and promote development of and access to innovation and technical and scientific cooperation, including through South- South, North-South and triangular cooperation, to meet the needs for effective implementation,particularly in developing countries, fostering joint technology development and joint scientific research programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and strengthening scientific research and monitoring capacities,commensurate with the ambition of the goals and targets of the framework.

TARGET 21

Ensure that the best available data, information and knowledge, are accessible to decision makers, practitioners and the public to guide effective and equitable governance, integrated and participatory management of biodiversity, and to strengthen communication, awareness-raising, education, monitoring, research and knowledge management and, also in this context, traditional knowledge,innovations, practices and technologies of indigenous peoples and local communities should only be accessed with their free, prior and informed consent (20), in accordance with national legislation.

TARGET 22

Ensure the full, equitable, inclusive, effective and gender-responsive representation and participation in decision-making, and access to justice and information related to biodiversity by indigenous peoples and local communities,respecting their cultures and their rights over lands, territories, resources, and traditional knowledge, as well as by women and girls, children and youth, and persons with disabilities and ensure the full protection of environmental human rights defenders.

TARGET 23

Ensure gender equality in the implementation of the framework through a gender-responsive approach where all women and girls have equal opportunity and capacity to contribute to the three objectives of the Convention, including by recognizing their equal rights and access to land and natural resources and their full, equitable, meaningful and informed participation and leadership at all levels of action, engagement, policy and decision-making related to biodiversity.

Opened for signature in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources.

With 196 Parties, the CBD has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services,including:

threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous peoples and local communities, youth, women, NGOs, sub-national actors and the business community.

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing are supplementary agreements to the CBD. The Cartagena Protocol, which entered into force 11 September 2003, seeks to protect biodiversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.

As of today, 173 Parties have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Nagoya Protocol aims to hare the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies. Entering into force 12 October 2014, it has been ratified by 135 Parties.


Loss and Damage in (Para 44-47) Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan Draft decision

Written By mediavigil on Saturday, November 19, 2022 | 8:46 PM

The draft decision on Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan of COP-27 deals with Loss and Damage caused by unsound and unsustainable industrial and developmental practices of some 40 countries since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Out of 94 paragraphs of the draft decision, paragraphs 44-47 deals with loss and damage. It notes with grave concern, according to information in the contributions of Working Groups II and III to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the growing gravity, scope and frequency in all regions of loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, resulting in devastating economic and non-economic losses, including forced displacement and impacts on cultural heritage, human mobility and the lives and livelihoods of local communities, and underlines the importance of an adequate and effective response to loss and damage.

The draft decision expresses deep concern regarding the significant financial costs associated with loss and damage for developing countries, resulting in a growing debt burden and impairing the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.

It welcomes the consideration, for the first time, of matters relating to funding arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including a focus on addressing loss and damage, under the Conference of the Parties and the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement and also welcomes the adoption of decisions on matters relating to funding arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.

It also welcomes the adoption of decisions establishing the institutional arrangements of the Santiago network for averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change to enable its full operationalization, including supporting its mandated role in catalysing technical assistance for the implementation of the relevant approaches at the local, national and regional level in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, and affirms its determination to select the host of the secretariat of the Santiago network by 2023 through a selection process conducted in an open, transparent, fair and neutral manner.

Draft decision of COP27 on matters relating to finance of Loss and Damage due to past dangerous interference with climate system

The 27th Conference of the Parties (COP-27)serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including a focus Change, in line with other best available science, concluded that the gravity, scope and frequency of loss and damage will continue to increase with every additional fraction of a degree of temperature increase.

The decision on matters relating to finance of Loss and Damage due to past dangerous interference with climate system acknowledges that existing funding arrangements fall short of responding to current and future impacts of climate change and are not sufficient to address the existing funding gaps related to providing action and support in responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.

It adopted “Matters relating to finance: matters relating to funding arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including a focus on addressing loss and damage”.

It acknowledged the urgent and immediate need for new, additional, predictable and adequate financial resources to assist developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in responding to economic and non-economic loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including extreme weather events and slow onset events, especially in the context of ongoing and ex post (including rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction) action.

It decided to establish new funding arrangements for assisting developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, in responding to loss and damage, including with a focus on addressing loss and damage by providing and assisting in mobilizing new and additional resources, and that these new arrangements complement and include sources, funds, processes and initiatives under and outside the Convention and the Paris Agreement.

It also decided, in the context of establishing the new funding arrangements to establish a fund for responding to loss and damage whose mandate includes a focus on addressing loss and damage.

It establishes a transitional committee on the operationalization of the new funding arrangements for responding to loss and damage and the fund established, in accordance with the terms of reference contained in the annex, to make recommendations based on, inter alia, elements for operationalizatio for consideration and adoption by the Conference of the Parties at its twenty-eighth (COP-28) session (November—December 2023) and the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement at its fifth session (November-December 2023) with a view to operationalizing the funding arrangements.

It agrees that the recommendations to operationalize the funding arrangements and the fund shall consider, inter alia: (a) Establishing institutional arrangements, modalities, structure, governance and terms of reference for the fund; (b) Defining the elements of the new funding arrangements; (c) Identifying and expanding sources of funding;(d)— Ensuring coordination and complementarity with existing funding arrangements.

It decides that the Transitional Committee will be informed by the following, inter alia: (a) The current landscape of institutions, including global, regional and national,that are funding activities related to addressing loss and damage, and ways in which coherence, coordination and synergies among them can be enhanced;(b)‘The gaps within that current landscape, including the types of gap, such as relating to speed, ability, adequacy and access to finance, noting that these may vary depending on the challenge, such as climate-related emergencies, sea level rise,displacement, relocation, migration, insufficient climate information and data, or the need for climate-resilient reconstruction and recovery;(c) The priority gaps for which solutions should be explored; d) The most effective ways in which to address the gaps, especially for the most vulnerable populations and the ecosystems on which they depend; (e) Potential sources of funding, recognizing the need for support from a wide variety of sources, including innovative source.

It also decide to undertake the following activities for informing the recommendations: (a) Request the secretariat to conduct two workshops in 2023, with the participation of a diversity of institutions, relevant to addressing loss and damage associated with climate change impacts; (b) Request the secretariat to prepare a synthesis report on existing funding arrangements and innovative sources relevant to addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change; (c) Invite Parties and relevant organizations to submit via the submission portal’ by 15 February 2023 views on topics for and the structure of the Glasgow Dialogue and the workshops; (d) Invite United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations, and bilateral, multilateral and international financial institutions to submit inputs on how they might enhance access to and/or the speed, scope and scale of availability of finance for activities relevant to addressing loss and damage, including potential limitations and barriers and options for addressing them;support from existing funding arrangements relevant for, inter alia, responding to economic and non-economic losses, slow onset events and extreme weather events, and that they will inform the work of the Transitional Committee.

It invites the United Nations Secretary-General to convene the principals of international financial institutions and other relevant entities with a view to identifying the most effective ways to provide funding to respond to needs related to addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change;

It invites international financial institutions to consider, at the 2023 Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, the potential for such institutions to contribute to funding arrangements, including new and innovative approaches, responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.

It reiterates decision 1/CMA.3, paragraph 64, in which developed country Parties, the operating entities of the Financial Mechanism, United Nations entities and intergovernmental organizations and other bilateral and multilateral institutions, including non-governmental organizations and private sources, are urged to provide enhanced and additional support for activities addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change. 

It request the President of the Conference of the Parties at its twenty-seventh session,in collaboration with the incoming President of the Conference of the Parties at its twenty-eighth (COP-28) session, to convene ministerial consultations prior to the twenty-eighth session of the Conference of the Parties and the fifth s n of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement to advance consideration and understanding of a possible outcome on this matter at that session.


Loss and Damage (Para 48) in Draft Decision reveals failure of COP 27 ?

The Draft Decision of the 27th Conference of the Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which serves as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement recalls Article 2, paragraph 2, of the Paris Agreement, that provides that the Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances. It reaffirms the outcomes of all previous Conferences of the Parties to UNFCCC, Conferences of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol and Conferences of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement. 

It notes the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including in forests, the ocean and the cryosphere, and the protection of biodiversity, recognized by some cultures as Mother Earth, and also noting the importance of ‘climate justice’, when taking action to address climate change. 

This draft decision has 100 paragraphs. It's paragraphs 44-48 deal with "Loss and Damage". It notes with grave concern, according to information in the contributions of Working Groups II and III to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the growing gravity, scope and frequency in all regions of loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, resulting in devastating economic and non-economic losses, including forced displacement and impacts on cultural heritage, human mobility and the lives and livelihoods of local communities, and underlines the importance of an adequate and effective response to loss and damage. 

In paragraph 45, it expresses deep concern regarding the significant financial costs associated with loss and damage for developing countries, resulting in a growing debt burden and impairing the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Paragraph 46 welcomes the consideration, for the first time, of matters relating to funding arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including a focus on addressing loss and damage, under the Conference of the Parties and the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement and also welcomes the adoption of decisions -/CP.27 and -/CMA.4, on matters relating to funding arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change. 

In para 47, it welcomes the adoption of decisions -/CP.27 and -/CMA.4, establishing the institutional arrangements of the Santiago network for averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change to enable its full operationalization, including supporting its mandated role in catalysing technical assistance for the implementation of the relevant approaches at the local, national and regional level in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, and affirms its determination to select the host of the secretariat of the Santiago network by 2023 through a selection process conducted in an open, transparent, fair and neutral manner in accordance with the process outlined in paragraphs 17-18 of decisions -/CMA.4 and -/CP.27. 

The paragraph 48 of the draft decision has been left blank to provide space "for funding arrangements decision". This reveals the outcome of COP-27. Unless this empty paragraph is filled with substantive content, COP-27 will be deemed a total failure. Some rich countries who are non-parties to several international environmental treaties and human rights treaties and who have been non-parties to Kyoto Protocol are resisting steps to meet the need for climate justice, equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. These countries who either own nuclear weapons or host them have have no sense of morality. Besides their position on liability for past climate damages and losses, their stance with regard to UN treaty on nuclear disarmament and binding UN treaty for transnational corporations and other business enterprises establishes their adversarial relationship with Mother Earth and natural persons as a consequence of their total capture by artificial persons, the body corporates.    


UNFCCC's Draft Text for addressing loss and damage due to climate crisis released

Written By mediavigil on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 | 4:30 PM

The draft text released at the COP-27 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) underway at Egypt's Sharm-el-Sheikh since 6 November "on matters relating to funding arrangements for addressing loss and damage" on 14 November 2022 is available at: https://unfccc.int/documents/621636 (Photo:Draft text for addressing loss and damage due to climate crisis)

It has to be read with the Report of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts published on 25 October 2022. The report is available at: https://unfccc.int/documents/609162

The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage adopted at the 19th Conference of Parties (COP-19) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2013 promotes the implementation of approaches to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts. The mechanism is established under the UNFCCC to assist developing countries that are vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate crisis by enhancing knowledge and understanding of comprehensive risk management approaches to address loss and damage, strengthening dialogue, coordination, coherence and synergies among relevant stakeholders and enhancing action and support, including finance, technology and capacity-building. This is being done to implement Article 8 of the Paris Agreement adopted at COP 21 of the UNFCCC. 

The Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism guides the implementation of those functions through its work plan, and with the support of thematic expert groups. The current work plan has five strategic work streams, addressing loss and damage associated with climate change impacts. In compliance with its mandate the Executive Committee has developed initiatives, such as the Fiji Clearing House for Risk Transfer that connects experts and those looking for risk transfer solutions in order to build tailor-made responses.

The recent origin of "loss and damage" can be traced in the Report of COP-13 held in Bali, Indonesia in December 2007 published in March 2008 when Kyoto Protocol signed in 1997 at COP-3 was still in force. The report is available at: https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2007/cop13/eng/06a01.pdf

The concept of "loss and damage" is essentially modeled on 1963 Brussels Supplementary Convention on Third Party Liability from Nuclear Energy, which could not be incorporated in the text of the UNFCCC in 1992 when it was adopted and signed was signed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the Earth Summit n Rio de Janeiro. It entered into force in 1994. The COP-1 was held in Berlin in 1995. The journey of climate law from Berlin to Sharm-El Sheikh has been incomplete without the provision for liability of some 40 rich countries for the loss and damage caused by their "dangerous interference with the climate system". 

The text addressing loss and damage due to climate crisis is likely to be finalized before the conclusion of the COP-27 on 18 November. 

Gopal Krishna


Unaddressed questions of constitutionality make Aadhaar Act and Election Law (Amendment) Act controversial

Written By mediavigil on Thursday, September 29, 2022 | 6:24 AM

Ahead of the upcoming elections in three states, petition in the Supreme Court challenging Section 4 and 5 of Election Law (Amendment) Act and Union Government’s notification dated June 19, 2022  linking UID/Aadhaar Number with Voter ID Number seems to have reached a competent High Court. In line with Election Law (Amendment) Act 2021, Registration of Electors (Amendment) Rules, 2022 under Representation of People Act, 1950 comes into force from August 1,2022 as per notification dated June 19, 2022 to link UID/Aadhaar number with Voter ID number. 

Prior to this a 10 page long The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 in the Lok Sabha by Kiren Rijiju, Minister of Law on 15 December, 2021. The Bill's statement of objects and reasons reads:  “The Representation of the People Act, 1950 (the RP Act, 1950), inter alia, provides for the allocation of seats in and delimitation of constituencies for the purpose of election to, the House of the People and the Legislatures of States, the qualifications of voter at such elections and the preparation of electoral rolls, etc. The Representation of the People Act, 1951 (the RP Act, 1951), inter alia, provides for the conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislatures of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections, etc.” It claimed that “Based on the proposals taken up by the Election Commission, it is proposed to amend the provisions of the RP Act, 1950 and the RP Act, 1951.

The Election Laws (Amendment) Act provides for—(i) amendment of section 23 of the RP Act, 1950, enabling for the linking of electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem to curb the menace of multiple enrolment of the same person in different places; (ii) amendment of clause (b) of section 14 of the RP Act, 1950 specifying the 1st day of January, 1st day of April, 1st day of July and 1st day of October in a calendar year as qualifying dates in relation to the preparation or revision of electoral rolls; (iii) amendment of section 20 of the RP Act, 1950 and section 60 of the RP Act, 1951 for substitution of the word "wife" with the word "spouse" making the statut
es
 gender neutral; (iv) amendment of section 160 of the RP Act, 1951 to enable the requisition of premises that are needed or likely to be needed for the purpose of being used as polling stations, for counting, for storage of ballot boxes, voting machines (including voter verifiable paper audit trail) and poll related material after a poll has been taken accommodation for security forces and polling personnel for such period as are notified under section 30 of the said Act. The President gave his assent to the Bill on  29 December, 2021. It was published in the Gazette of India on 30 December 2021. 

The 3-page long Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 has inserted sub-sections in Section 23 of the 1950 Act. The sub-sections states that "The electoral registration officer may for the purpose of establishing the identity of any person require that such person may furnish the Aadhaar number given by the Unique Identification Authority of India as per the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016: Provided that the electoral registration officer may also require the Aadhaar number from persons already included in the electoral roll for the purposes of authentication of entries in electoral roll and to identify registration of name of the same person in the electoral roll of more than one constituency or more than once in the same constituency." It also inserts the provision saying "Every person whose name is included in the electoral roll may intimate his Aadhaar number to such authority in such form and manner as may be prescribed, on or before a date to be notified by the Central Government in the Official Gazette. No application for inclusion of name in the electoral roll shall be denied and no entries in the electoral roll shall be deleted for inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar number due to such sufficient cause as may be prescribed: Provided that such individual may be allowed to furnish such other alternate documents as may be prescribed." 

This law and the rules framed under it were challenged by Randeep Singh Surjewala, a leader of the Indian National Congress in the Supreme Court. The writ petition (civil) was filed on 8 April, 2022. It was registered on 2 May, 2022 and verified on 10 May, 2022. secretary, legislative department, ministry of law and election commission of india were made respondents. The office report noted that similarity found in the present case is based on Justice K.S.Puttaswamy (Retd) v. Union of India (2018). This petition was called on for hearing on 25 July, 2022 before the bench of Dr. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice A.S. Bopanna. The petitioner was represented by Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Upon hearing the counsel, the Court passed made the order. It reads: “The PIL-petitioner seeks to challenge the constitutional validity, inter alia, of Sections 4 and 5 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2021. An efficacious and alternate remedy is available before the High Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. In view of the remedy which is available in law, we grant the liberty to the petitioner to move a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India before the competent High Court.”

Unless a competent High Court declares Sections 4 and 5 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2021 or the entire Act as unconstitutional, those citizens who are already in Voters List are at a liberty to intimate their UID/Aadhaar number "voluntarily" by April 1, 2023.

Given the fact that the constitutionality of Aadhaar Act is itself before a yet to be constituted Constitution Bench, constitutionality of provisions under Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2021 which require linking of Aadhaar number with Voter ID number raises grave questions of legitimacy of this enactment.    

Aadhaar number database, a tool for electoral ‘surveillance’, remains a Weapon of Mass Destruction for citizens and a national security threat

Written By mediavigil on Monday, September 26, 2022 | 9:03 AM

 

Briefing Paper

 

Aadhaar number database, a tool for electoral ‘surveillance’, remains a Weapon of Mass Destruction for citizens and a national security threat 

 

Aadhaar Act is a mini-Constitution   

 

States, opposition parties clueless even after four years of Section 57 of Aadhaar Act being declared unconstitutional  

 

Five years after Supreme Court’s verdict, no right to privacy law in sight, audit of UIDAI & Aadhaar schemes by CAG reveals Aadhaar Act as Black law   

 

26 September 2022: Disregarding the ten fathom deep burial of the notorious majority opinion of the Supreme Court Justices P. N. Bhagwati, A.N. Ray, M.H. Beg and Y.V. Chandrachud in ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla (1976) case that had suspended a person's right to not be unlawfully detained by 9-Judge Constitution Bench in Justice Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017), the majority opinion of Justices A. K. Sikri, Ashok Bhushan, A.M. Khanwilkar and  D. Misra in  Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2018) resurrected the notorious verdict by declaring Aadhaar Act to be partially constitutional on 26 September 2018. Court declared Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act which enabled body corporate and individual to seek authentication is held to be unconstitutional. Section 57 which was titled “Act not to prevent use of Aadhaar number for other purposes under law” has been “Omitted by the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Act 2019”. Section 57 provided that “nothing contained in this Act (Aadhaar Act) shall prevent the use of Aadhaar number for establishing the identity of an individual for any purpose, whether by the State or any body corporate or person...” So far State governments have failed to rescind their MoUs with UIDAI in the light of the judicial and legislative decisions. Opposition parties are yet to factor in the “incomplete” audit of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) of CAG and the audit of Aadhaar based Direct Benefits Transfer that creates a compelling logic for repeal of Aadhaar Act as has been done with UK’s Nation ID scheme which was cited as an example for India to emulate.

 

UIDAI's Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) of UID/Aadhaar Numbers and related sensitive information is akin to what Cathy O'Neil refers to as Weapons of Math Destruction while explaining the societal impact of the algorithm. It reveals how the use of big data and algorithms in a variety of fields, including education, and policing, insurance and advertising can lead to decisions that harm the poor, facilitate profiling for the minorities of all shades, reinforce racism, and amplifies inequality and creates a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Her book won the Euler Book Prize of the Mathematical Association of America in 2019. Features used by UIDAI and its foreign technology solution providers are opaque, unregulated, and difficult to contest. They are also scalable, thereby amplifying any inherent biases to affect increasingly larger populations. These Weapons of Math Destruction are essentially Weapons of Mass Destruction.

 

Giorgio Agamben, the 74-year-old Italian philosopher who has been teaching at the University of Venice and New York University, predicted in 2004 that the ‘bio-political tattooing’ is the precursor to what would later turn into a normal identity registration of a good citizen. It provides a continuity between the world of the Nazi concentration camp and contemporary democracy. It paves the way for a genocidal liberal order. Biometrics ‘concerns the enrollment and filing away of the most private and incommunicable aspect of subjectivity,which results in the capture of the human body by the authorities for good. Till now such assault on the private human body was an exception, now it is becoming the norm. Surveillance has been used as a tool to shape the relationship between the citizen and the State. Both identification and surveillance have co-existed since time immemorial, but it is now assuming frightening architecture with the marriage of statistics of biological characteristics, and biometric technology with digital sculpture.

 

Aadhaar Act is aimed at making citizens entitlements like subsidies, benefits and service conditional on their identification based on “biometric information” such as “photograph, finger print, Iris scan, or such other biological attributes”. It suspends citizens’ right to not be denied their entitlements by their servant, the government although “Aadhaar number”is irrelevant for rights and entitlements of citizens.

 

Under Aadhaar Act “Aadhaar number” is an identification number issued to an individual who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to one hundred and eighty-two days or more in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment.  

 

Notably, before abandoning its ID project, the UK used to cite Estonia as an example. Estonia has a population of 13 lakh people. It has come to light that 750,000 ID and e-residency cards of Estonians posed a security threat because it allowed private keys to be inferred from public keys resulting in the vulnerability of all systems depending upon the privacy of such keys facilitating identity theft or spoofing. It compelled the Estonian government to suspend these IDs. ID card manufacturer Gemalto, a Dutuch company failed to inform the Estonian government about the vulnerability. It has also come to light that Gemalto and the Estonian government have reached a compromise agreement after  the former agreed to pay 2.2 million EUR in compensation.  

 

It may be recalled that Gemalto is part of World Bank’s eTransform Initiative launched in partnership with Microsoft, Safran, Pfizer, IBM, France and South Korea. India’s UID/Aadhaar scheme is part of biometric experiments underway in 14 developing countries. As a Member of Parliament from Bihar, K.C. Tyagi had raised the issue of threat from “Use of Aadhaar Cards as proof of address for procuring new SIM cards” manufactured by Gemalto, world biggest Sim card manufacturer on 13 March, 2015 in the RajyaSabha and referred to “I.B. red flag over ADHAR based SIM card”. Drawing the attention towards  reported hacking into the data of this SIM card manufacturer by US and British intelligence agencies posing a national security threat as the majority of phones in India may have SIMs of that company. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, K C Tyagi, the Janata Dal-United MP said American and British spy agencies have hacked into the database of Dutch company Gemalto. Gemalto's SIM cards are widely used in India including by bureaucrats and the defence establishment. He added that the government's decision to link Aadhaar data base with SIM cards could potentially compromise strategic information. It poses a major national security threat. Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, the Trinamool Congress MP from West Bengal associated himself “with the concern expressed by Shri K. C. Tyagi.” Notably, the West Bengal assembly has passed a unanimous resolution against Aadhaar.

 

Examination of the official documents indicates that the Indian UID/Aadhaar project was pushed by an ID cartel as a reaction to scrapping the National ID project of the UK. The technology solution providers like i. IBM, ii. Microsoft, iii. Oracle, iv. Computer Associates, v. Novell, vi. Honeywell, vii. HP, viii. Red Hat, ix. ILANTUS Technologies, x. MPhasis and xi. PwC were part of the 35 member task force constituted by the union government for identity management in 2006.  

 

The concerns over the breach of citizens’ data has prompted several state governments to halt the ongoing data collection process for a National Population Register (NPR).  The fear is that the information sought under NPR is much wider in scope and could potentially be used to target a section of the society.

 

What the anti-NPR advocates do not realise is that there are more solid reasons to fear the NPR because it is not just a census exercise, but a larger data convergence project that can result in the government putting its citizens under surveillance, that is unwarranted and dangerous to the secular and constitutional credentials of the country. NPR's linkage with Aadhaar number plays a central role here.

 

In fact, MHA's NPR and MEITY's UIDAI's CIDR of UID/Aadhaar numbers are aimed at creating an architecture for indiscriminate mass surveillance of the present and future voters who are being structurally coerced to give their consent to the immoral and illegitimate exercise of their profiling for countless times.

 

It has turned every newborn into a suspect. There is a file being created to track and profile him for good. Like Indian NSA's threat to his adversaries about having a file on them, having a UID/Aadhaar number and NPR automatically creates a file of the Indian residents in question. Even infants are not spared in this cruel scheme of things.

 

In a country where no intelligence chief or official has held accountable for the assassination of two of its Prime Ministers and for betraying nation's secrets, can it be hoped that all those who compromised India's data security will be made liable for their treacherous acts of transferring the sensitive data of present and future citizens including ministers, soldiers, judges and ministers?

 

There is a compelling logic for setting up a High Powered Commission of Inquiry to probe the ongoing bartering of citizen's databases and transfer of national data assets to foreign entities.

 

The States should un-sign the MoUs they have signed with UIDAI and discontinue both UID/Aadhaar and NPR exercise to resist the emergence of an unlimited government, unlimited by the Constitution of India and Constitutionalism.

 

Here are some reasons for repealing Aadhaar Act:

 

1. The majority order of the Supreme Court's 5-Judge Constitution Bench on September 26, 2018, has pointed out that the UID/Aadhaar Number project and NPR project are part of the one database convergence scheme. NPR has been mentioned at least on eight occasions in the order to underline the same. A centralized database is the most vulnerable entity in the digital world. The leakage of the database of UK’s children has revealed the old maxim, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, has been given a very public burial”. This has been thoroughly debunked. This maxim is attributed to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Database State, a report from the UK, states: ‘In October 2007, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (Department) lost two discs containing a copy of the entire child benefit database.’ Only blind faith in a Utopian State can persuade people to think that they have nothing to fear after trusting their personal sensitive information to a Database State and non-State actors like Safran, Ernst & Young and Accenture.

 

2. One of the earliest documents that refer to UIDAI, a 14-page document titled 'Strategic Vision: Unique Identification of Residents' prepared by Wipro Ltd for the government envisaged the close linkage that the UIDAI's Aadhaar would have with the electoral database. The use of the electoral database mentioned in Wipro's document remains on the agenda of the proponents of UID/Aadhaar.

 

3. The 41-page Wikileaked document titled 'Creating a unique identity number for every resident in India' that declared itself to be a 'Confidential- property of UIDAI' states, "The Unique ID or UID will be a numeric that is unique across all 1.2 billion residents in India. The UID number will not contain intelligence. In older identity systems, it was customary to load the ID number with information related to the date of birth, as well as the location of the person."

 

This document reveals that from day one the Prime Minister wanted to create a file on each of "1.2 billion residents", the division of work between Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)'s NPR and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY)'s UID/Aadhaar was/is merely an attention diversion tactics to outwit citizen's scrutiny.

 

The ongoing merger of the electoral database with UID/number debunks UIDAI's claim that UID/Aadhaar number "will not contain intelligence" and "the location of the person."From these disclosures, it seems that the government has adopted an adversarial role vis-a-vis Indians and acting beyond its constitutional mandate in order to pander to the interests of the commercial czars, non-state actors and foreign intelligence companies.

 

4. In an RTI reply dated October 25, 2013, UIDAI shared a truncated contract agreement with Ernst & Young. The contract agreement states that "the Unique ID will be a random 12-digit number with the basis for establishing uniqueness of identity being biometrics". It announces that "we will provide a Unique Identity to over 113.9 crore people."

 

This is evidently a fraudulent announcement because UIDAI with which the agreement has been signed had the mandate to provide Unique Identity to only 60 crore residents of India, and not to 113.9 crore people.

 

It is evident that while the government kept Ernst & Young informed about its motive, it kept states, citizens, the parliament and the Supreme Court in the dark. The contract agreement reveals that "biometric systems are not 100 % accurate" and "uniqueness of the biometrics is still a postulate." This admission pulverizes the deceptive edifice on which MEITY's UID/Aadhaar and MHA's NPR rests.

 

5. Section 57 of un-amended Aadhaar Act, 2016 stated that "Nothing contained in this Act shall prevent the use of Aadhaar number for establishing the identity of an individual for any purpose, whether by the State or any body corporate or person, pursuant to any law, for the time being in force, or any contract to this effect".

 

It implies that UID/Aadhaar of "over 113.9 crore people" has been shared with foreign private body corporates like Ernst & Young. It is only after the horse had escaped the barn that the door was closed through Section 25 of Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019 in compliance with the Court's order dated September 26, 2018.

 

Section 25 of the Amendment Act 2019 states that Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 has been omitted with effect from July 24, 2019.

 

6. At paragraph 8 of the majority order authored by Justice A K Sikri, it is recorded that "a Processes Committee was set up on July 03, 2006, to suggest the process for updation, modification, addition and deletion of data and fields from the core database to be created under the Unique Identification for BPL Families project.

 

This Committee, on November 26, 2006, prepared a paper known as 'Strategic Vision Unique Identification of Residents'. Based thereupon, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) was set up on December 04, 2006, to collate the National Population Register under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Unique Identification Number project of the Department "of Information Technology.

 

Subsequently, "a Committee of Secretaries was formed. The said Committee gave its recommendations which were discussed by EGoM. After approving the Aadhaar Scheme in principle, it instructed the Cabinet Secretary to convene a meeting to finalise the detailed organisational structure of the UID.

 

After considering the recommendation of the Cabinet Secretary, Notification No. A-43011/02/2009-Admn.I was issued on January 28, 2009, by the Government of India which constituted and notified the UIDAI."  Annexure 1 of this notification that constituted UIDAI deals with the Role and Responsibilities of UIDAI. The fourth point in this notification reads: "implementation of UID scheme will entail" taking "necessary steps to ensure collation of NPR with UID (as per. approved strategy)".

 

7. The minutes of a meeting of the Committee of Secretaries held under Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary November 23, 2015 talks of "integrating the twin approaches under NPR and Aadhaar."

 

The "integrating the twin approaches under NPR and Aadhaar" which is referred here is the same as taking "necessary steps to ensure collation of NPR with UID (as per. approved strategy)" underlined in the notification mentioned in the Aadhaar Act.

 

8. A Ministry of Home Affairs communication dated July 19, 2019 states that "The National Population Register (NPR) thus prepared, was seeded with Aadhaar number during its updation exercise in 2015 along with a collection of demographic details of new household members. Approx. 60 crores Aadhaar numbers have been seeded in NPR Database."

 

This communication discloses that "It has now been decided by the Ministry of Home Affairs to update the existing NPR database during April 2020 - September 2020 along with House listing & Housing Census phase of Census 2021. While updating the NPR, the Aadhaar number of all the individuals whose Aadhaar number is not available in the NPR Database will also be collected along with various other items. Necessary notification for updating NPR in 2020 will be issued shortly."

 

9. The Court's order reveals that "A core group was set up to advise and further the work related to UIDAI...The core group, inter alia, decided that it was better to start with the electoral roll database of 2009 for undertaking the UIDAI project." If an UID/Aadhaar-enabled Biometric Attendance System is indeed a ‘digital equivalent’ of an ‘age-old attendance register,’ why did the National Human Rights Commission object to a radio collar which can also be argued by sophists to be a ‘digital equivalent’? It may be recalled that the Union ministry of external affairs had agreed with the NHRC’s assessment. The Union minister of external affairs informed Parliament that some 18 students were detained and released in the US with radio monitoring devices on their ankles, pending completion of investigations for possible involvement in irregularities. ``We have also strongly protested the radio collars as unacceptable, which should be removed immediately.’ If the ‘digital equivalent’ means biometric equivalent as well, then radio collar and DNA-based identity and attendance will also be deemed equivalent to ‘age-old attendance register.’ It is quite evident that such claims are deeply misleading.

 

10. The reference to ‘such other biological attributes’ in Section 2 (g) of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, and the definition of ‘biometrics’ under the Information Technology (Reasonable security practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011 under section 87 read with section 43A of Information Technology Act, 2000 underlines that it includes ‘the technologies that measure and analyse human body characteristics, such as “fingerprints”, “eye retinas and irises”, “voice patterns”, “facial patterns”, “hand measurements” and “DNA” for authentication purposes.’ It is abundantly clear that the plan of UID/Aadhaar-based surveillance does not end with the collection of fingerprints and iris scan, it goes quite beyond it. If surveillance is not a big deal, why is Edward Snowden in Moscow since June 23, 2013? Why is Australian journalist Julian Assange one of the 675 prisoners in Belmarsh, a category A prison, in London since April 2019 and why was he in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since July 19, 2012? If surveillance is indeed such an innocent act, then why are the entire US and European establishments paranoid about surveillance including electoral surveillance from Russia?

 

A confidential document of UIDAI titled 'Creating a unique identity number for every resident in India', leaked by Wikileaks on 13 November 2009 reveals that "One way to ensure that the unique identification (UID) number is used by all government and private agencies is by inserting it into the birth certificate of the infant. Since the birth certificate is the original identity document, it is likely that this number will then persist as the key identifier through the individual's various life events, such as joining school, immunizations, voting etc." There was never an occasion wherein there was an all-party meeting to seek the consent of all the political parties with regard to merger of UID/Aadhaar database with "electoral roll database". The amendment to Section 182 of the Companies Act, 2013 has taken away the restriction that contribution can be made only to the extent of 7.5% of net average profit of three preceding financial years, enabling even newly incorporated companies to donate via electoral bonds. "This opens up the possibility of shell companies being set up for the sole purpose of making donations to political parties, with no other business consequence of having disbursable profits", according to the Election Commission of India. The amendment to Section 182(3) abolished the provision that companies should declare their political contributions in their profit and loss accounts. This requirement is diluted to only showing the total expenditure under the head. This would "compromise transparency" and pave the way for the "increased use of black money for political funding through shell companies". It is evident that the provision of Electoral Bonds in the Companies Act and the merger of Voter-ID Number and Aadhaar Number through amendment in Aadhaar Act is an exercise in merger of electoral database and Aadhaar database that will lead to total control of the extinguish political and civil rights of present and future generations by such rewriting of the political geography of the country with hitherto unknown adverse consequences.   

 

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, surveillance means ‘close observation, especially of a suspected person’. So far the Supreme Court has not had the occasion to examine the most glaring aspect of unlimited-cyber biometric surveillance, which entails close observation of all the present and future Indians indiscriminately as suspects. The yet to be constituted 7-Judge Constitution Bench will have the opportunity to pronounce the verdict on the constitutionality of
biometric-electoral surveillance through UID/Aadhaar database. Like UK’s opposition parties India’s  opposition parties have the last opportunity to promise repeal of Aadhaar Act, a mini-Constitution emulating the example of 44th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1978 because in the name of biometric identification, civil death of citizens is being normalised and naturalised as if Article 21 of the Constitution has been abrogated.   

 

 

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), Mb: 9818089660, E-mail: krishnagreen@gmail.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.org 

 

 
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