Protecting our biodiversity, the Pacific islands share their stories on global stage

1 December, 2016, CBD COP13, Cancun, Mexico - Pacific island protected areas will be highlighted at a biodiversity conference bringing together over 10 thousand delegates from 190 countries and organisations, all united in their commitment to halt the loss of biodiversity.

Fourteen Pacific island countries are Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity for which the 13th Conference of the Parties starts at the end of this week in Cancun, Mexico (CBD COP13). All have committed to achieving the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets with the ultimate goal of reducing biodiversity loss.

CBDCOP13 Generic3Moon Palace Arena, Cancun, Mexico - venue of the CBD COP13

"We want to share our actions that reflect our commitment and intent to protect our biodiversity, in particular reaching Aichi Targets 11 and 12 – to have area based conservation measures in place and to prevent the extinction of known threatened species," said Mr. Stuart Chape, Director of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

"Our island region has actively worked on strengthening protected areas as we all know too well just how important our biodiversity is to us, as Pacific islanders. It is the backbone of cultural traditions, helps feed us and is the source of livelihood for many. We understand the Pacific Way of Life is at stake unless we work to protect it."

Of over 720 recorded animal extinctions in the last 400 years, half of these were island species. Aiming to make a difference, the Pacific islands are working towards achieving the Aichi Targets to make a significant difference by the year 2020.

This coming week will see all Parties come together to assess actions and negotiate a path forward to ensure thee targets are met within the next three years.

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What's ahead?

On Friday and Saturday, 2 – 3 December, the High Level Segment of the CBD COP13 will take place, bringing together country leaders and ministers to discuss the ways to effectively Mainstream Biodiversity into Agriculture, Tourism, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Forestry sectors. Discussions will be conducted through roundtable sessions over the period of two days. A key outcome of the HLS will be the adoption of the "Cancun Declaration on Mainstreaming the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity for Well-being".

From 4 – 17 December the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP13) will be held, as well as the eighth Conference of the Meeting of the Parties (COP-MOP) of the Cartagena Protocol (COP-MOP 8) and the second COP-MOP Nagoya Protocol (COP-MOP 2).

The Cartegena Protocol on Biotechnology Safety is to ensure the handling, transport and safe use of living modified organisms resulting from the application of modern technology and can have adverse effects on biodiversity. Ten Pacific island counties are parties to the Cartegena Protocol, these are Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Tonga.

The Nagoya Protocol on access to genetic resources and fair and equitable participation of benefits arising from their use. The Pacific island parties to the Nagoya Protocol are Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Samoa and Vanuatu.

Both of these are linked to the CBD COP overall and feed into achieving the goals of the Convention for which the Pacific parties are the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Tonga.

"The outcomes of the meetings are significant for our region in knowing where we are at in meeting the global biodiversity targets and key decisions on further actions and resources available to take to achieve these," said Mr Chape.

"We are doing our part in contributing to the achievement of the global targets and our successes and actions taken will be shared and showcased throughout the meetings."

A special side event showcasing the Pacific islands will be held on Monday 5 December, 2016 titled - Our Pacific Voyage: Navigating our way towards the implementation of the Aichi Targets. This will feature the perspectives from the Pacific as they work towards strengthening the Protected Areas in their islands.- #PacificProtectedAreas

The CBD COP13 is held in Cancun, Mexico from 4 – 17 December, 2016. To learn more about this please visit: http://cop13.mx/en/
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