16 December 2022, Montreal Canada - As the deadline looms for 196 parties of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to finalise and endorse a post 2020-Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), Fiji has called on world leaders and delegates to “do the right thing” to return our natural world to a path of stability and restoration.
In the beautiful city of Montreal, Canada on Friday evening, thousands of delegates, including many from Pacific countries, continue negotiations for an agreement that remains elusive, as the temperature drops with a snowstorm picking up pace outside the Palais des Congress.
With the meeting scheduled to end on Monday, developed nations want developing countries to agree to their marquee target to conserve 30 per cent of the world's land and marine areas by 2030. But developing nations want better financing, and for all Pacific countries, easier access to new and real financing.
This is one of several issues delegates are trying to iron out with two days of negotiations remaining.
The Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations, His Excellency Satyendra Prasad, said delegates cannot walk away from what he described as the “most consequential Biodiversity Conference in our generation” without a GBF, cautioning that this could only lead to a future of economic devastation and widespread biodiversity collapse.
“We can, on the other hand, walk away with an alternative and a better outcome – an outcome where we give our natural world; our lands and our ocean a fighting chance - and ultimately humanity itself a fighting chance,” Ambassador Prasad said.
He addressed the High-Level Segment of COP15, reminding leaders and delegates they are called by history to be in Montreal do the right thing. “The right thing at this point in history when our biodiversity and natural world faces near collapse is to deliver a CBD framework that gets the job done. And that is to return our natural world to a path of stability and restoration. That is what we are surely here to do. We are called to get the job done,” he said.
“Getting the job done includes highly protecting 30 percent of the Worlds ocean. It means protecting 30 percent of our lands - globally. Not a percent less. Getting the job done will mean that we collectively shift our extractive and exploitative mindset that orders our approach to the natural world to one that places nature and ocean at the heart of everything we do.
“Getting the job done means - that to those who must - offer resources on scale and in ways that are accessible by small island states like Fiji. Getting the job done means for those who can — to offer significant new investments to support our global effort to return our planet and life on it to a pathway of stability.”
He implored delegates that getting the job done in Montreal will give future generations a fighting chance for survival.
“We are now in overtime zone - code red. We know there are no penalty kick options to kick our natural world onto a path of stability. We only have us - the 196 member states to the CBD and we have this rapidly closing window of opportunity during which we can still exercise leadership and offer hope.”
Ambassador Prasad assured of Fiji’s support to work with the international community to deliver a Kunming-Montreal Moment for Nature, and implement the GBF. He highlighted what is already being done to conserve biodiversity in Fiji. This includes expanding protection across Fiji’s pristine 2.3 million square kilometers of the Blue Pacific to a highly protected 30 percent within a 100 percent managed framework overall.
“We are committed to highly protecting 50 terrestrial and ocean biodiversity areas, we are expanding our primary forest cover, we are expanding the protection of vital reef systems, we are expanding protection of our mangroves,” said Ambassador Prasad.
“We are harnessing the energy of our young; of our coastal communities by launching a far reaching “jobs for nature” programme with an initial target of 10,000. We are advancing ecosystem restoration and nature-based solutions to our infrastructure.
“We are extending our moratorium on sea bed mining. We are working together with our fellow small island developing states – because together the Blue Pacific is home to more than 10 percent of global terrestrial biodiversity and over 40 percent of the ocean biodiversity. This is what is at stake for us in the Blue Pacific and indeed for the World.”
Ambassador Parasad said Fiji and Pacific nations stand to lose all this if the world leaders and delegates in Montreal do not do the right thing.
The Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) is held in Montreal, Canada from 7 – 19 December 2022. Chaired by the Government of China, the CBD COP15 will result in a new Global Biodiversity Framework that will continue the Biodiversity Targets with the global goal of halting biodiversity loss.
Fourteen Pacific Islands countries are Party to the CBD. They are contributing to a unified One Pacific Voice on collective issues at COP15. The countries present in Montreal are the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Led by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), support to Pacific island countries has been implemented with technical input through the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRT), and includes a One Pacific approach involving support from the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, and the Pacific Community at COP15 with financial assistance from the Government of Australia and the ACP MEA Phase 3 Project funded by the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States for the ACP countries.