On the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity, CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR), New Delhi, organised a webinar — ‘We’re part of the solution’ on 27 May 2021.
The distinguished speakers of this webinar were Prof. S.K. Gakhar, Vice-Chancellor, Indira Gandhi University, Meerpur, and Prof. Saroj K. Barik, Director, CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow and CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow (Additional Charge). The occasion was also graced by Prof. Ranjana Aggarwal, Director CSIR- NISCAIR, and CSIR-National Institute of Science, Technology & Development Studies (NISTADS), New Delhi.
In the welcome address and introductory remarks, Prof. Ranjana Aggarwal talked about how biodiversity and environment were two sides of the same coin and how anthropocentrism has contributed to the decline of biodiversity. “When we say we are a part of the solution, we also need to understand that human beings are a part of the problem as well. Human beings need to identify the problem to identify the solution to stop extinction and for sustainable biodiversity conservation,” Prof. Aggarwal stated. She also highlighted the strengths and initiatives taken by CSIR-NISCAIR in biodiversity conservation.
The Chief Guest of the programme Prof. Saroj K. Barik delivered the Keynote address on “Biodiversity-based solution for health and food security”. He talked about biodiversity not only in terms of plants but also the rich cultural diversity that exists in India in terms of plant diversity conservation. Prof. Barik stated that human development has been at the cost of extensive degradation of the earth’s ecological & biogeochemical systems which in turn negatively affect human health, e.g. the COVID-19 pandemic. Anthropogenic disturbance and biodiversity loss have been strongly linked to increased prevalence and elevated risks of zoonotic disease from a variety of pathogens.
Talking about climate change and food security Prof. Barik mentioned the growing need for increased production of food to cope with the increasing population and how climate change is expected to cause a significant reduction in crop production and nutritional content. He shared how biodiversity can help with this through methods such as plant domestication and bioprospection. He also mentioned Aahaar Kranti — an initiative for tackling malnutrition by popularising local food for solving the malnutrition problem. Prof. Barik informed the audience about the work being carried out at CSIR-NBRI. He concluded his speech by emphasising on the need for sustainable use of our natural resources to conserve the threatened species.
Prof. S.K. Gakhar’s talk focused on the importance of diversity, threats to wildlife, Aichi biodiversity targets and the proposed solutions. He spoke about global biodiversity and threats to wildlife by overexploitation, expanding land usage for agriculture, human habitats and climate change. He further added that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that conservation of nature and biodiversity is essential to protect from future pandemics. Prof. Gakhar concluded his talk with some proposed solutions during 2021-2030 or the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration such as the importance of economic models to value the ecosystem, using eco-friendly agriculture, and focusing on coexistence of habitats, wildlife and wild spaces, investing in nature’s infrastructure, and the need for governments to prioritise biodiversity conservation as an agenda.
The vote of thanks was proposed by Shri R.S. Jayasomu, Chief Scientist, CSIR-NISCAIR.
The programme was coordinated by Dr Charu Lata, Senior Scientist, CSIR-NISCAIR and Dr Paramananda Barman, Scientist, CSIR-NISCAIR.