Hyderabad biodiversity talks: day 5 diary

By Tierney Smith
RTCC in Hyderabad 

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Fog of COP: Heavy mists swirled around the conference centre last night (see below) as talks closed for the day, choking some participants. Locals told us mosquito repellant is released at night in vast quantities. There is no malaria in Hyderabad but mosquitoes are a huge problem due to the number of lakes. Fellow delegates suggested the mist was derived from DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), the insecticide that was first highlighted by Rachel Carson in Silent Spring. Surely not at a biodiversity conference?

The main entrance to the HICC was shrouded in a thick grey mist last night

Dying lake: Hyderabad is famous for its lakes – and two are making the headlines here. COP11 conference centre organisers have been accused of dying the lake green to mask its polluted state. This comes on the back of reports that a local power company cut down 40 healthy trees next to the centre.

Holy lake: The second patch of water in the news is the Hussain Sagar Lake in the centre of the town. It looks stunning but is now contaminated as a result of the recent Ganesha Festival. The end of this holy event sees worshippers line up to throw their statue of Ganesh into the lake. The unintended and devastating consequence is that thousands of plaster of paris (PoP) statues line the bottom of the lake, causing silting which eventually kills marine life. Toxic paints used to paint the statues pollute the water and cause allergies.

Inside the talks: Significant progress has been made during the first week of the COP11 summit in Hyderabad according to the The UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity. Working Groups have already been able to agree on four texts. These focus on on plant conservation, taxonomy, biofuels and incentives. In his morning briefing CBD Communications officer David Ainsworth also said talks have been “advancing efficiently” in other areas, such as oceans.

Funding: “Significant difference of opinion” still remains when it comes to finance, according to Ainsworth. A contact group comprising of interested parties has been convened to discuss this topic in more depth this morning. Negotiations will continue over the weekend.

Poverty: Parties are discussing whether they should endorse, make notes or simply recognise (all UN jargon) the links between poverty eradication and the environment – including the Rio+20 Summit outcomes and process of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Video of the day: Patricio Bernal, coordinator of the IUCN’s Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (GOBI) tells RTCC about a new “health assessment” for the world’s oceans due in 2013.

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