Statement by H.E. Ambassador Henry Mac Donald, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Suriname to the United Nations On the Occasion of the “High-Level Meeting on the International Year of Biodiversity” 23 September 2010 U. N .Q
21 October 2010 / 12:53
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Republic of Suriname I wish to express my appreciation to the General Assembly for organizing this timely high level conference.
I also wish to use this opportunity to thank the Secretary General, H.E. Ban Ki-Moon, for providing the background report for this very important event.
The historical impact of this meeting should not only be the fact, that this is the first occasion for Heads of State and Government from all over the world to address the global challenges on biodiversity. It should also go down in history as the moment of reinvigoration of the commitment of world leaders at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 to reduce biodiversity loss by 2010.
In contrary it is a sad conclusion that despite this pledge, biodiversity continues to be lost worldwide at unprecedented rates, and thereby threatening the capacity of the planet to provide goods and services that we as humans rely on for our livelihoods.
Biodiversity is not only an environmental issue and should therefore not be left for the sole consideration of environmentalists. Maintaining all life forms on Earth contributes to our enjoyment of the atmosphere, of our health and our social, economic, cultural and spiritual life. It is furthermore indeed a fact that the survival of future generations depend on continued existence of biological diversity. Therefore there could not be chosen a better theme to observe “the International Year” then: “ Biodiversity is life. Biodiversity is our life”.
In this regard it is paradoxical that biodiversity loss and the possibility of mass extinction of species are attributed to human behavior. We could thus be placing our own survival and that of our descendants very much in jeopardy.
The international community can no longer afford to ignore the negative impact of this behavior to the world’s resources, resulting in famine and increasing poverty.
The Republic of Suriname as party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is committed to biodiversity conservation and understands its significance for human welfare, economic development and poverty reduction. Suriname also formulated its National Biodiversity Strategy in a participatory way, including all stakeholders. We will build upon this strategy and endeavor to expand this strategy in a “National Biodiversity Action Plan” also involving all stakeholders.
Since the 1950s nature conservation has been essential to the protection of the environment in the Republic of Suriname. As a direct consequence over 90% of the land area is still covered by rainforest of which 13% is formally classified as nature reserves of which the Central Suriname Nature Reserve of about 1.6 million hectares has been designated by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for nature.
Suriname possesses one of the largest stretches of pristine tropical rainforests on Earth, and is one of eleven countries worldwide with a categorization as a “high forested, low deforestation country”. Consequently, we are fully aware of our value and potential in terms of biodiversity conservation for the global community.
Suriname is home to many, rare, endangered and endemic species, such as the dendrobatus azureus or blue poison- arrow frog, the “cock of the rock”, the harpy eagle, the giant otter, jaguar, just to name a few examples. Many international migrating species such as the scarlet ibis, snips and swallows spend significant time in Suriname. Suriname’s beaches have been chosen for ages by 4 endangered species of sea-turtles to lay their eggs. A study done by scientist in this month in the south-eastern part of the country found more than 40 new species as a contribution to science.
Nowadays biodiversity-loss ranks very high on the global agenda and together with climate change it is a defining challenge of our time.
We are also well aware of the crucial role of maintaining our forests as lungs of the Earth. However, preservation and protection of this valuable resource should not lead to forgoing important development opportunities, thereby undermining sustainable development of our People and slowing down the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Although we increasingly respect and apply principles of sustainable forest management, we still face serious challenges in regard to gold mining and logging practices that result in significant land degradation and mercury pollution.
Our progresses made in the conservation of biodiversity are being threatened by our lack of capacity in sustainable natural resources planning and management and the implementation of commitments to international conventions and treaties. Suriname faces serious challenges in updating and revision of legislation, development of strategies and action plans and strengthening of national institutions.
One very important challenge is the process of granting of land tenure and land titles to indigenous and forest dependent tribal communities. We are further of the intrinsic view that the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and tribal peoples and local communities should be respected, preserved and maintained. Traditional lifestyles relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity should be promoted for their wider application with the approval and involvement of their holders, encouraging equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their utilization.
My country have placed “Sustainable Forest Management” among its highest priorities, including in its bilateral and international cooperation, and is closely pursuing the processes within the context of the United Nations Forum on Forests(UNFF) in regard to the implementation of the “Non-Legally Binding Instrument (NLBI)” on all types of forests, including the strengthening of enabling policy environments and forest-related governance and management and in particular Financing for Sustainable Forest Management.
Many forest-rich countries require immediate financial resources, as well as improved technology and capacity, to implement sustainable, participatory forest management and conservation practices that are consistent with national development strategies.
This can be done by providing stronger incentives for the conservation of forests, which contributes to the mitigation of climate change.
Suriname is actively involved with the developments on REDD+ and advocates strongly that the world community should award (carbon) credits to countries, which for decennia have upheld an excellent track record in conserving their forests, and in promoting sustainable forest management, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation, as carbon sinks and providing additional ecological services.
In conclusion, my delegation calls upon the world community, not to merely place heavy emphasis on complex procedures and calculations, but especially to make a simple decision in partnering with developing countries and to provide funds to support their sustainable development efforts.
We are of the opinion that this message should resonate loud and clear during the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties of CBD, which will take place, in Aichi-Nagoya Japan and at the closing ceremony of the International Year of Biodiversity, to be held in December of this year in Kanazawa, Japan, which will coincide with the launch of the 2011 “International Year of Forests” to be organized in partnership with the Secretariat of the UNFF. The message should also be carried forward to the Sustainable Development Conference, the so called Rio plus 20 Conference, to be held in Brazil in 2012.
Finally Mr. President,
After all, the General Assembly’s proclamation of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, will only have significance if it became the turning point in history, leading mankind to live in harmony with nature, thereby engaging people all over the world, from science, media, political, private industry, citizens, and NGOs communities, but especially youth and children in the fight to protect life on Earth, in particular by supporting the disadvantaged and those living in poverty to realize sustainable development.
I thank you for your kind attention.