Today, heads of state and government of six countries and a foundation made bold commitments to preserve natural resources that provide livelihoods, food, protection from natural disasters and other benefits to people.
The commitments were made at an event in Rio co-hosted by Indonesian President Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Thomas of Grenada. The event was organized by The Nature Conservancy and the Global Island Partnership.
“These commitments demonstrate vision and leadership in making the ideal of sustainable development real,” said Glenn Prickett, Vice President of External Affairs for The Nature Conservancy. “The value of natural capital has emerged as perhaps the most important theme of the Rio+20 conference. These leaders are taking tangible steps to invest in that value and that’s real cause for celebration.”
The participating leaders committed to:
Antigua and Barbuda, Prime Minister Winston Baldwin Spencer
Antigua and Barbuda has committed to protecting 20 percent of their near shore marine area and 15 percent of their terrestrial area by 2020, thereby formally joining the Caribbean Challenge Initiative. The country has also committed to creating the Antigua and Barbuda Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (ABCCAT) and developing sustainable finance mechanisms such as user fees and debt-for-climate adaptation swaps to provide a sustainable source of funding to protect marine and costal resources and adaptation to climate change.
Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Australia has made a national commitment to establish the world’s largest and most comprehensive network of marine reserves – placing more than 3 million square kilometers of Australia’s oceans under conservation management. They will also help other countries achieve the “blue economy” by almost doubling their longstanding support of the Coral Triangle Initiative, to $8 million (AUS) and an additional $25 million (AUS) in funding for fisheries and climate change adaptation in the Pacific.
Colombia, Vice Minister Soto on behalf of President Juan Manuel Santos
Colombia committed to put in place an innovative nationwide mitigation program that will ensure that environmental impact compensation are made in the most strategic locations and actions. The framework will enable companies to plan ahead and implement their offsets in an efficient way and ensure the greatest return on investment for nature. Colombia also committed to taking an integrated planning approach to development of the Magdalena River Basin. The country will also create new programs to reduce deforestation and increase significantly its 1.2 million hectares Chiribiquete National Park to enhance protection of the Colombian Amazon basin.
Grenada, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas
Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas announced that he will co-host a Caribbean Political and Business Leaders Summit with Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group, along with Premiere Orlando Smith of the British Virgin Islands in 2013. The Summit will build and expand on the Caribbean Challenge Initiative commitments of placing 20 percent of near shore marine area under protection by 2020 and developing sustainable finance mechanisms to finance the management of protected areas.
Indonesia, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
President Yudhoyono declared that, for the sake of food security, we need to ensure the health of our oceans and coasts. He committed to strengthen Indonesia’s efforts to build a “blue economy” that will ensure sustainable growth with equity in all oceans and coastal areas. He reaffirmed his leadership of the Coral Triangle Initiative for coastal livelihoods, food security and climate change and outlined a multipronged approach to recognize the value of nature for coastal communities and Indonesia’s economy.
Seychelles, Vice President Danny Faure
The Republic of Seychelles stated that if they were able to complete a debt for adaptation to climate change swap that created a funding stream of at least US$2.5 million per year, the Seychelles would establish 30% of their coastal zone as marine protected areas, with half of this area in no take zones. Seychelles further committed to providing three years of financial support the Global Islands Partnership and to continue to support the launching of the West Indian Ocean Challenge.
The Nippon Foundation, Chairman Yohei Sasakawa
The Foundation committed to provide resources to nations that have made “blue economy” commitments at Rio+20. The Foundation, which has provided expertise and resources to improve ocean management in 110 countries, has committed to launch a new initiative involving a ten-year, high-level dialogue process and the development of new programs to advance sustainable use of ocean resources.
The Nature Conservancy, which works in each of these countries to preserve natural resources, committed to help the leaders implement the commitments to ensure the greatest benefit for people and the natural resources necessary for sustainable and equitable growth. Key actions will include facilitating debt-for-nature swaps and other innovative finance mechanisms.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.