ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ten Years of the Biological Diversity Act

As India plays host to the Convention on Biological Diversity's 11th Conference of the Parties in Hyderabad in October 2012, this article takes a closer look at the country's legislation on the subject - the BiologicalDiversity Act (2002).

India’s Biological Diversity (BD) Act was enacted in 2002. There is now a decade of its existence to reflect on. The genesis of the law can be traced to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was signed at the Rio Summit in 1992. While assessing the 10 years of the Act, one has to be mindful of how India itself has undergone change in these years. By the time the Act came into force, trade imperatives had begun to influence environmental law and policy-making both at the national and global level. The final shape of the Act and the manner of its implementation through the BD rules issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in 2004 reflect that bent.

The “economic reforms” introduced in 1991 meant greater reliance on market forces, encouragement of the private sector and restructuring the role of the government. In 1995, the country had also become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This, among other things, meant changes in the country’s intellectual property (IP) regime. Economic liberalisation has created many new challenges for local communities. Situating the 10 years of the BD Act in this post-“reforms”, post-WTO context, helps to better understand the direction it has taken.

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