According to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), biodiversity is defined as: “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species and ecosystems.” Biodiversity thus encompasses genetic diversity, species richness and habitat heterogeneity. Marine biodiversity is changing rapidly as a result of natural and human pressures. Such change can lead to environmental, economic, and ultimately social problems, but also to new opportunities for people and industry. Biodiversity underpins the health of the oceans and their productive ecosystems which, in turn, support sustainable fisheries and provide enormous possibilities for new biotechnological applications. To explore, conserve, and make better use of marine biodiversity, a deeper understanding of its origin, its composition and its role in ecosystem functioning is the need of the hour.
The Non-Aligned Movement has taken stock of the situation and has reaffirmed the importance of measures to ensure the sustainable management of marine biodiversity and ecosystems, including fish stocks, which contribute to food security and hunger and poverty eradication efforts, including thorough ecosystem approaches to ocean management, and to address the adverse effects of climate change on the marine environment and marine biodiversity.
The Algiers NAM Ministerial Declaration 2014 recognized that millions of the world’s inhabitants depend on the health of coral reefs and related marine ecosystems for sustainable livelihoods and development as they are a primary source of food and income and also provide for protection from storms, tsunamis and coastal erosion. In this regard, the Ministers of NAM Member States appreciated regional initiatives on the protection of coral reefs and related ecosystems, including the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF), the Micronesia Challenge, the Caribbean Challenge, the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape Project, and the Indian Ocean Challenge, West-African Conservation Challenge and the Regional Initiative for the Conservation and Wise Use of Mangroves and Coral Reefs for the Americas Region. Non-Aligned Movement has urged the developed countries parties, international organizations and other relevant stakeholders to take all practicable steps to promote, facilitate and finance, as appropriate, the transfer of, or access to, environmentally sound technologies and know-how to develop countries, to enable them to take all necessary actions including comprehensive for the coastal zones management and protection of coral reefs and related ecosystems. The movement has called on all countries to promote and cooperate in the full, open and prompt exchange of relevant scientific, technological, technical, socio-economic and legal information related to the protection of coral reefs and related marine ecosystems.
Many prominent NAM Member States have put in effective mechanisms to ensure sustainable management of marine biodiversity. Like the Caribbean nations, South Asian countries too have implemented significant regional initiatives.
The most prominent among these is the South Asian Seas Action Plan (SASAP), which was developed under the umbrella of the UNEP Regional Seas Programme and adopted in 1995 by the five South Asian maritime countries, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The objective of SASAP is to protect and manage the marine environment and related coastal ecosystems of the South Asian Seas (SAS) region, through the promotion of sustainable development. The SAAP emphasizes the need for establishing a regional cooperative network of activities concerning concrete subjects of mutual interest for the whole region.
Another major initiative towards sustainable marine biodiversity management is the Network of Aquaculture Centre in Asia-Pacific (NACA). A number of NAM Member States like India, Iran, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar are actively involved in this initiative, which is also a prominent example of North-South cooperation. NACA seeks to improve the livelihoods of rural people, reduce poverty and increase food security. The ultimate beneficiaries of NACA are farmers and rural communities. NACA implements development assistance projects in partnership with research centres, governments, development agencies, farmer associations and other organizations. NACA supports technical exchange between members, capacity building, institutional strengthening and policies for sustainable aquaculture development and aquatic resource management. Thus, it can be seen that the significance of marine diversity in maintaining biological diversity has been recognized by the NAM Member States, and they have implemented mechanisms for enhanced regional collaboration in shared natural marine and coastal biodiversity management.