What does India want?

LIKE OTHER countries, India's strategy at global environmental negotiations is to protect its national interests while safeguarding environmental space for future development needs.

Climate Change: India played a leading role within the Group of 77 countries in pushing the issue of equity and stressed that the countries that are responsible for environmental degradation should be the ones to take corrective measures. "Because developed countries with high per-capita emissions of greenhouse gases are responsible for incremental warming, it follows that they have a corresponding obligation to take corrective action," the Indian representative told the negotiating session.

India takes the position that developing countries should not be asked to bear the blame for what they have not caused nor be saddled with responsibility for taking corrective action, especially as they lack the means.

But to deflect criticism that India is using this argument to avoid taking action at home, Indian diplomats maintain that while it has no legal responsibility in this regard, it would "take corrective measures, according to its national plans, priorities and objectives."

Biodiversity: The biodiversity convention enjoys highest status in the ministry of environment and forests (MEF). Its policy is to ensure the sharing of profits and technology from the commercial application of biological material emanating from India. The MEF and diplomats contend that access is needed to financing equally the benefits that the international community derives from the preservation of biodiversity.

Indian officials are adamant that they will oppose the biodiversity convention if India is denied or given only restricted access to biotechnologies developed from Third World resources and knowledge.

On technology transfer, India wants industrialised countries to take legislative measures to ensure "... the private sector facilitates access, joint development and technology transfer...for the benefit of both governmental institutions and the private sector of developing countries."

Forest principles: This is where Indian diplomacy scored its biggest success by avoiding a global forest convention, using the argument that a global, top-down, legally binding rigid solution to deforestation is fraught with danger. Indian representatives insist that different cultures and communities use forests differently and the way local agroecological systems deal with forests needs a decentralised regime, instead of a centralised, global one. Though the battle is likely to get tougher, Indian diplomats say that if a convention is indeed signed, the international community will bend over backwards to accommodate Indian views.

GEF: As the money from this fund, established primarily for environmental activities, is likely to be substantial, the issue is being handled by the economic affairs department in the ministry of finance, which has the responsibility of obtaining as much aid as possible from GEF.

Ozone: India has ratified the Montreal Protocol and presently exercises significant clout in its management, as its chairperson is the environment minister. The Indian demand for equal sharing of the atmosphere was articulated initially at this convention, though it was made more forcefully at the climate change convention. India wants more time than the industrialised countries to phase out production of ozone-depleting substances and has asked for funding to acquire new replacement technologies.

Related Content