This CBD COP 15 side event made a call to action to enhance the means of implementing ambitious objectives for nature in SIDS under the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
Several small island developing states (SIDS) have agreed to form the SIDS Coalition for Nature in view of the implementation of the new global biodiversity framework (GBF), which is expected to be adopted in Montreal by CBD COP 15. The coalition, which is being led by Cabo Verde, Samoa, and the Seychelles will advocate for enhanced means of implementing ambitious objectives for nature in SIDS.
The aim of the side event was to formally launch the Coalition for Nature, and make a Call to Action for “Enhancing Means of Implementing Ambitious Objectives for Nature in SIDS under the post-2020 GBF.” The technical rationale behind the Coalition and the Call for Action emerged from a policy-oriented assessment undertaken by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) on Gaps, Challenges and Constraints in Means of Implementing Biodiversity Objectives in SIDS, developed in close consultation with the CBD National Focal Points from SIDS.
The event was moderated by Fatumanava-O-Upolu Luteru, Permanent Representative of Samoa to the UN. Welcoming participants to the high-level session, Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, noted that SIDS are pioneers of biodiversity, demonstrating an intrinsic link to nature. She said they host 19% of the world’s coral reefs and that their geographic isolation safeguards an array of endemic plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth.
Gilberto Silva, Minister of Agriculture and Environment, Cabo Verde, said “nature is the lifeline of our socioeconomic development,” but that small land mass, small population, geographic isolation, a limited resource base, and the vulnerability of low-lying areas puts small-island states at a disproportionate risk to external shocks, as illustrated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alfred Prospere, Minister, Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security, and Rural Development, Saint Lucia, speaking on behalf of Caribbean SIDS members of the Coalition, stressed the cultural and social value that biodiversity plays for small island states and that the cost of losing biodiverse ecosystems will be much greater than the cost of protecting them.
Lord Zacharias Goldsmith, Minister for Overseas Territories, Commonwealth, Energy, Climate and Environment, UK, expressed the UK’s commitment to make SIDS, climate change, and nature top international priorities, including by doubling the commitment to climate finance and through a USD 500 million Blue Planet Fund to help SIDS develop blue economies. He said that small islands are stewards of unique wildlife including almost a third of the world’s Ocean and their voices, through the Coalition, will push for the highest ambition. He reiterated that the UK is committed to supporting SIDS in this effort.
Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, Minister, Tourism and Natural Resources and Environment, Samoa, speaking on behalf of the Pacific SIDS members of the Coalition, highlighted reef-restoration projects, mangrove rehabilitation, and bans on single-use plastics as leading efforts in marine coastal restoration.
Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, Special Envoy for the Ocean for French President Emmanuel Macron, said France is “glad to be a friend of the SIDS Coalition,” stressing his country’s role in ensuring that the Ocean is at the forefront of international sustainable diplomacy.
Denis Matatiken, Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Seychelles, speaking on behalf of Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea SIDS members of the Coalition, said that “islands are living laboratories of evolution and biodiversity hotspots,” with the value of nature being integral to island identity and culture. He said the Coalition is crucial to catalyze the financial and technical support to achieve global biodiversity objectives, extending his invitation to other SIDS who have not yet joined it to do so.
Luteru then presented a short video showcasing how several SIDS have been awarded the most ambitious UN World Restoration Flagship for being among the best examples of large-scale ecosystem restoration, led by Saint Lucia, Vanuatu, and the Comoros Islands.
Júlio César Freire De Morais, Permanent Representative of Cabo Verde to the UN, presented the Call to Action to enhance means of implementing ambitious objectives for nature in SIDS. He called for
- increasing SIDS’ access to concessional finance and finance solutions for biodiversity conservation, including by supporting blended and innovative finance mechanisms, solutions, and associated policy frameworks to incentivize and de-risk investment;
- supporting SIDS’ technical cooperation, technological transfer, and data management capacities by enhancing national capacities for creating science-policy interfaces with a focus on national environmental accounting systems, valuation tools for ecosystem services, and usability/accessibility of existing data banks;
- accelerating biodiversity mainstreaming across sectors and synergies across the three Rio Conventions; and
- strengthening SIDS-SIDS interregional and intraregional cooperation, peer learning and policy dialogue on nature conservation to expand SIDS best practices and nature-based solutions at scale.
Joseph Appiott, CBD Secretariat, speaking on behalf of the CBD Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, underscored that SIDS have an outsized burden to care for biodiversity and are responsible for an Ocean area 28 times the size of their land mass. He stressed that the GBF requires an “all of society” approach and cannot place undue burdens on SIDS to solve climate and biodiversity problems alone.
Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, lauded the Coalition and Call to Action. He stated that the Coalition is a window to widely communicate SIDS’ best practices in nature conservation, and encourage the development of SIDS-SIDS cooperation schemes, which will pave the way for the uptake and expansion of innovative solutions by and for SIDS. The advocacy role played by the Coalition will be a key contributor to the Fourth International SIDS Conference in 2024 and to the 2025 UN Ocean Conference, he said.
The SIDS Coalition for Nature is co-led by the Government of Cabo Verde, Seychelles, and Samoa, with the support of the SIDS Unit of UN DESA.
The current members of SIDS Coalition for Nature are (in alphabetical order): Belize, Cabo Verde, Comoros, Dominican Republic, Guinea Bissau, Kiribati, Samoa, Saint Lucia, São Tomé and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. As of December 14th ,the Friends of the SIDS Coalition for Nature are (by alphabetical order): Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Organizers: Governments of Seychelles, Samoa, and Cabo Verde
Contact: Maximilien Pardo Y Fernandez [email protected]
For more information: https://www.cbd.int/side-events/5105
Written and edited by Tallash Kantai, Vijay Kolinjivadi, PhD, and Deborah Davenport, PhD.
All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For this event, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Natalia Mroz
To receive free coverage of global environmental events delivered to your inbox, subscribe to the ENB Update newsletter.