Press Release - Ministers and Heads of Delegation attending the 21SM renewed their commitment to biodiversity conservation and affirmed that biological diversity is the foundation of the well-being of our communities and cultures.The Meeting expressed concern over the increasing challenge of reducing biodiversity loss and declared the need for all to work together to use biodiversity wisely and maintain the health of natural ecosystems.
The link between climate change and biodiversity was also raised at this meeting. Delegates noted that the loss of biodiversity is compounded by the overwhelming threat of climate change and affirmed that responses to climate change must be linked to efforts to conserve and manage the region's species and ecosystems. Maintaining a strong and healthy environment will ensure better resilience of the region to the impacts of climate change.
Efforts of SPREP Member countries and territories to strengthen and conserve important biodiversity sites were highly praised, in particular those that were successful with inscribing World Natural Heritage Sites.
Of particular mention were the world's largest marine protected area, Kiribati's Phoenix Islands Protected Area; New Caledonia's lagoons and coral reefs; and the USA's Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, all of which have been inscribed as World Natural Heritage Sites in the past two years.
This meeting of Pacific environment leaders encouraged all Pacific island countries and territories to take similar action as those with World Heritage Sites, to conserve and manage important terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
The Meeting also welcomed the collaborative effort of the Micronesia Challenge which brings together the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands and Palau in a combined effort to conserve 30% of their nearshore marine resources and 20% of their terrestrial resources by 2020.
The next important step for the Pacific region is attendance at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10) in Nagoya, Japan. The meeting of Ministers and heads of delegation noted the importance of a 'One Pacific Voice' at this international meeting, to ensure that decisions made will take into account the needs of the Small Islands Developing States.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme will be providing support and assistance to member countries at the CBD COP10.