I have the honor to address the Committee on behalf of the Marshall Islands. As this is the first time I am speaking, please accept my delegation's congratulations to you and the other members of the bureau on your election.
My delegation fully associates itself with the statements delivered by South Africa on behalf of the G-77 and China and by Saint Lucia on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). We would also like to commend the Secretary-General for his informative report on the implementation of United Nations environmental conventions (A/61/225).
Today, I wish to address the Committee on the issues of climate change and biological diversity.
Firstly, I wish to reiterate our critical concern regarding climate change, a serious and long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the world. A growing scientific consensus, along with the visible impacts of recent disasters, both underline the fact that SIDS are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including severe climatic conditions. Despite contributing the least to climate change, SIDS are the least able to adapt to its dramatic impacts such as sea-level rise and changing weather patterns.
My own country, the Marshall Islands, has a tiny land size of approximately 180 square kilometers, consisting of low lying atolls that are an average of 2 meters above sea level. Our small atolls and islands are dwarfed by our surrounding Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ), which consists of approximately 2 million square kilometers of ocean. While we rely on our ocean as a means of sustenance and survival, it becomes our biggest concern during increasingly severe weather conditions, and we fear that ultimately, sea-level rise will threaten the very existence of our islands. Survival in the face of sea-level rise is a challenge shared by many other low-lying Pacific island nations, and the loss of our collective environment and cultural resources is of global concern.
Therefore, we reiterate our call for urgent actions to be taken at the global level to halt and ultimately reverse these devastating impacts. Without such global action, our national efforts at sustainable development will be rendered meaningless.
While we are committed to playing our part, strong leadership is required by the major industrialized countries. We once again renew our support for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, and we call upon all States that have not yet done so - in particular the major emitters - to ratify the Protocol without further delay. We also call upon the international community to assist SIDS in developing and implementing comprehensive adaptation strategies. We look forward to participating actively in the twelfth Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, where we hope to see a stronger international commitment to addressing the causes of, and mitigating the effects of climate change, especially with regards to SIDS.
It is our view that the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in general and marine biodiversity in particular, plays an integral part in the socio-economic development of the Marshall Islands. As a nation whose single most important productive sector and key export is fisheries, the state of the world's oceans and fish stocks, and how these vital resources are being exploited remains our utmost concern. We are very concerned about the prevalence of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, both within and beyond our EEZ, and about the adverse effects of destructive fishing in areas that have a high concentration of underwater seamounts and vulnerable ecosystems.
The consequences of these activities are two-fold: on the one hand, they are viewed to have a significant negative impact on the region's marine biodiversity, and, on the other hand, they gravely undermine the livelihood of our people that rely on fisheries resources as their primary means of survival. Thus, we reiterate the need to enhance and strengthen regional and international cooperation and coordination to address these practices. Efforts should focus on assisting SIDS in building capacity for monitoring and surveillance, as well as on assisting small island nations to develop domestic fisheries, so as to ensure the adequate conservation and management of the region's fish stocks.
Thank you, Madame Chairperson.