MONTREAL (SPREP) — The sombre reality of biodiversity loss is simply not acceptable and the Republic of Palau has called on world leaders to set concrete goals and tangible actions to forge a new relationship with the environment.

A critical part of this new relationship is the need to endorse a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) by Monday this week, when the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Montreal, Canada, ends.

The call comes from Palau’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment, Steven Victor, as the UN biodiversity negotiations enters the critical stage for reaching an outcome document.

More than 30 delegates from Pacific Island countries are amplifying our One Pacific voice and country priorities, demanding an effective and coherent GBF that reflects the needs of Pacific islands nations to conserve their unique biodiversity.

Speaking during the High-Level Segment at the Palais des Congress on Friday, Victor drew contrast between the beautiful city of Montreal, which was snowing when he addressed the plenary, and the sad reality of biodiversity in his homeland and around the world.

“My presence here today and for the rest of the week is primarily motivated by the sombre reality – a reality we can no longer ignore as a global community. The trajectory of biodiversity loss on this planet is simply not acceptable,” Minister Victor said.

In Palau, and in all Pacific countries, culture and livelihoods are inseparable from land. This intimate link between people and nature has been at the heart of island culture and remains so even to today, although it is increasingly coming under threat.

“The triple threat of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution demonstrate our vulnerabilities as island communities and remind us that the resilience of our ancestors depended on the resilience of our land and ocean. And this is true not just for islands but all members of the global community,” said the Minister.

As negotiations continue on difficult issues concerning the GBF, Palau called on leaders and the COP15 Presidency to establish concrete goals, tangible actions for nature and people. He highlighted the importance of Target 3, one of 20 targets being negotiated to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.

Target 3 exists to ensure that at least 30 percent globally of land areas and of sea areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and its contributions to people, are conserved.

“Palau is here to ensure Target 3 of the GBF enshrines our aspirations, and our duty to protect at least 30 percent of our natural world, in particular 30 percent of our Ocean, a critical target for Small Island Developing States (SIDS),” Victor said.

“For Palau, we believe that this aspiration should also include high quality protection. We are not asking any more from others than we do of ourselves and Palau has demonstrated steady progress toward this target for more than a decade. I caution here however that the push towards this target should not be simply a race to get to a number, it should be a collective and calculated progress that is inclusive, informed by science, leverages the necessary resources and builds capacity at all levels of society.”

The Minister also drew attention to the critical need to ensure targets on finance and capacity building are included in the GBF, including the means of implementation, which recognises the needs and special circumstances of SIDS.

Victor added: “We need to ensure that the indicators for the monitoring framework incorporates a suite of subregional as well as national indicators that are contextualized to nature and people, and is accompanied by funding mechanisms to support the required work to collect and report on these indicators. And to support the implementation of the GBF, it is critical that the island biodiversity programme of work continues and is updated as necessary…. PACNEWS

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