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Biodiversity and International Negotiations on Climate Change: Mumbai and COP27

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By Ayadi Mishra

· 4 min read

The COP27 has concluded, and the COP15 on CBD is set to begin in early December after delays from 2020. The connection between the environmental and climate change agendas is well acknowledged. Natural resource extraction and processing already account for 50% of global emissions and 90% of the loss of biodiversity, with repercussions for human settlements and the likelihood of disasters. Mumbai being A coastal city, the ramifications are even more significant. Considering the significance of local perspectives from all across the globe, Mumbai is in an intriguing position to integrate its biodiversity while also being the financial capital of India - to build transformative economic systems and informal supply chains in accelerating climate action.

At the UN Climate Conference (COP27), a number of nations and groups engaged in negotiations attempting to reopen texts that had already been agreed upon and disclosed discussions that were not widely held among parties. While the slogan was a rather optimistic one - "together for implementation," quickly turned tense as rifts appeared, eventually collapsing when the European Union threatened to leave.

The policies, which are driven by fossil fuel companies and powerful financiers, systematically muffled the voices of the global South and placed the brunt of the emissions on weaker populations and territories, they led astray from the hope youth and indigenous communities had in walking towards the conference, the isolation of biodiversity from the discussions caused a serious plight on what science already shows.

One thing is very clear, current solutions do little to counteract the fossil carbon emissions and even less to restore biodiversity at a time when entire ecosystems are in danger of collapsing, which would have catastrophic effects on humans and the environment. Being in the Global City and still classified as one of the developing countries, India is the third-largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world holding a unique position.

The current discussions about loss and damage are essential, both inside and outside of COP. Natural resource extraction and processing already account for 50% of global emissions and 90% of the loss of biodiversity, with repercussions for human settlements and the likelihood of disasters. And Mumbai being A coastal city, the ramifications are even more significant.

Amidst all this, published in March by the BMC is The Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP), which comes as the Indian government prepares to update more of its climate commitments from those made under the2015 Paris Agreement.

Harbouring the solutions which pertain to being unimplementable and its core being non-statutory As these solutions are not enforceable by law, it effectively means that stating "climate action" will be left to the well-intentioned efforts of bureaucrats. The launch of such a plan has further prompted scientists and climate activists in the area to examine the policies and promises, which bring support for the Arrey forest and the Mangroves in the different parts of Mumbai as organizations like the Fridays for future Mumbai and numerous alliances continue to bring forth voices of the communities who have dedicated their livelihoods on them for generations.

Several ecologists have also pointed out the government’s misleading numbers about the tree cover coming from plantations outside the legally protected forest area, causing the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Control (MOEFCC) to launch the subsequent investigation.

While Bombay looks at significant infrastructure projects, these not only become causes for the lost ecology and exacerbate weather issues but also rip away livelihoods and communities that have lived there for generations.

Historically, "relentless building" is often seen as a solution to old problems in Mumbai. The coastal road, an ongoing effort to create the first 9.8km and fill in a portion of the city's shoreline, is best understood as an old mistake applied to a new issue. The supposed tropical megalopolis is consistently paving over some of its most important ecological features as we face the direct impacts of climate change due to the loss of these natural features - the reducing wetlands, and open spaces, and claiming more ocean footprint for a low-lying coastal town is an antithesis in itself.

One still relies on the British-era drainage system, built when the wetlands and open green spaces were still in great supply, despite the fact that the city's once-flowing rivers have turned into sewers, the cyclone-protecting mangrove cover is dwindling, and the city battles flooding and waterlogging every season.

Regardless of the local actions, the seeming "climate solutions" are still driven by the interests of the rich. Supporting local knowledge and ideas, on the other hand, takes a back seat as the market drives any policy and negotiation. Extreme weather and rising temperatures affect some individuals more severely than others due to systemic ruptures and structural issues - we know that inequality and marginalization, poverty, pollution, etc are felt differently everywhere.

Mumbai across scales has tirelessly demonstrated the value of interdisciplinary bases that combine traditional knowledge, scientific information, and the intimate, practical knowledge of a community's environment - now the policies need to take that heed.

Climate change is bound to alter how we view ourselves as a society on this planet and heighten our inequalities, it rests on us on whether we choose to rise together or sink - quite literally.

Future Thought Leaders is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of rising Energy & Sustainability writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Ayadi Mishra is a computational designer and a climate activist, working for inclusion and climate justice. She has been working in the construction and urban finance industry as a young professional where for multiple campaigns she has been the Asia-Pacific Liaison, Research on public policy and circular systems for Mumbai as an SDSN Fellow. With YOUNGO and MGCY, she works as a Policy lead for Nature WG, and as a constituency member for the Stockholm+50 TF. 

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