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International Cooperation, Durable Partnerships Vital to Safeguarding Biodiversity of Small Island Developing States, Says Deputy Secretary-General

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the launch of the Small Island Developing States Coalition for Nature, in Montreal today:

I thank the Governments of Cabo Verde, Seychelles and Samoa for organizing this event and for their invitation.  As we gather in Montreal to shape a global biodiversity framework, we have the opportunity to secure a historic landmark for nature.

In this wave of global support for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, small island developing States are pioneers of biodiversity, demonstrating their intrinsic link to nature, fundamental to their livelihoods and identity.

Simply put, small island developing States have shown that when you talk about nature, you talk about small island developing States.  They harbour 19 per cent of coral reefs, while 30 per cent of oceans and seas are included in their exclusive economic zones.  Their geographic isolation also means they are home to an array of unique and endemic plants and animals, some found nowhere else on Earth.

Despite a host of development challenges, they have made protecting biodiversity a top priority — leading by example to overcome hardships, increase their environmental resilience and protect their socioeconomic development, which depends on biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources.

Let me underscore some remarkable examples.  Palau has created one of the world’s largest areas of protected ocean.  Within the sanctuary, which covers 80 per cent of national waters, all extractive activities such as fishing and mining are now prohibited.

In the Seychelles, we witnessed a major undertaking with the issuance of the world’s first sovereign blue bond, to channel funding to ocean-friendly projects.

At twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties, Barbados steered a game-changing credit enhancement transaction, through its conservation and climate commitments, to improve coastal management and resilience and advance local economies and fiscal positions.

And Belize was the first country in the Americas to execute a debt-for-nature swap, using dedicated investments to enhance the protection of its marine ecosystems.

In every case, the starting point was a country’s own national environmental goals.  But, it is also clear that to scale up conservation and sustainable use, small island developing States need support from the global community.

International financing is crucial for building a sustainable, just and inclusive blue and green economy and implement the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.  Small island developing States also need cutting-edge technical and technological support to prepare for and counter the unprecedented effects of climate change, while ensuring that ocean and land biodiversity continue to create decent employment and benefit local economies.

Delegates in Montreal are working hard to reach a planetary agreement that enables all countries to conserve, sustainably use and restore biodiversity — and the multiple goods and services nature provides.  Without bold action, and profound changes in how the world values nature, we will not be able to address broader sustainable development goals, including contributing to climate action.

Finally, I wish to recognize the formation of the Small Island Developing States Coalition for Nature.  International cooperation and durable partnerships will be instrumental to safeguard the spectacular biodiversity of your countries, for the benefit of all humanity.

I urge for stronger collaboration around this newly established platform with existing alliances to promote integration across key international agendas that are critical for the small island developing States communities — particularly on ocean, biodiversity, water, energy and climate.

I wish you all the best for this initiative and hope this event will usher in a new era of support for nature in small island developing States.

For information media. Not an official record.