Hyderabad biodiversity talks: day 7 diary

By Tierney Smith
RTCC in Hyderabad 

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Understanding our oceans: Since COP10 in 2010, scientists for the IUCN and partner organisations have been tracking the biodiversity of the sea. They have discovered 120 new biodiversity “hotspots” which they are now calling on the convention to endorse, pushing for more international action to protect them. The “hotspots” are defined by a number of criteria including their vulnerability, their productivity and their uniqueness.

Countering Coal: Greenpeace, Kalpavriksh and Amnesty International have all called for a moratorium on new coal mining in India. They say that many new coal mines and plants in the country are encroaching on forestry and are displacing local communities without their prior consent.

Green relay: A drive to raise environmental awareness across Asia was launched at the weekend by UN biodiversity chief Braulio Dias. Organised by the Living Planet Foundation, the ‘Green Kumbh Yatra’ biodiversity pilgrimage will travel 1,125km from Hyderabad to South Korea, arriving in time for the COP12 summit in 2014. Dias was presented with a brass pitcher by spiritual leader Tridandi Chinna Jeeyer Swami to mark the beginning of the journey.

PM in town: Security is visibly tightening ahead of India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit tomorrow. Two new helipads have been constructed for his arrival – workers were busy painting a large H on one of the tarmac circles when we arrived this morning. Singh plans to address the main plenary and open a biodiversity park.

Protests: Not everyone is welcoming his arrival. The skies of Hyderabad will be dotted with black balloons tomorrow as part of a local separatist protest. Telaganga activists want to have their own state independent of Andhra Pradesh. Singh is not expected to come into contact with them – and press conferences will be screened for any journalists who could pose awkward questions on this issue.

Golf: Another group of activists staged a protest at this weekend’s COP11 golf tournament. They handed out leaflets to delegates taking part in the contest, detailing impacts of the course on the city’s biodiversity. They say its construction has caused water shortages, damaged a local heritage area and created a huge build-up of waste.

Ocean alert: Fish stocks along the Andhra Pradesh area have declined by 40%, according to a new report, published in the Times of India today. It blames pollution, trawler activity and weak governance for this drop in catches. Fishing is a vital industry for many communities living along the coast.

Extra Power: The State government of Andhra Pradesh has called on the National Union Government to supply additional power and fuel to the region to overcome an increasing supply gap, following frequent power outages. A state official has said inadequate coal and reduced inflows into hydro systems are responsible for the shortage.

Picture of the day: Here’s one seahorse you would not want to meet in the ocean

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