International Agreement spotlights the world’s islands

At the recent meeting of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), governments of the world adopted a comprehensive Programme of Work for the conservation of Island Biodiversity. Island nations also made some very exciting conservation announcements.
The meeting that took place in Curitiba, Brazil lasted for 10 days and ended on March 30th. Nature Seychelles was represented by Rachel Bristol, Science Coordinator who said, “it was extremely encouraging to witness the level of global support for island biodiversity. All parties adopted the programme of work with no significant amendments. This in stark contrast to other issues such as genetically modified trees and access and benefit sharing where parties are unable to come to agreement.”

Leaders from a number of island nations around the world have agreed to significant national conservation commitments to protect the future of islands, and launched a “Global Island Partnership” aimed at enhancing marine and terrestrial protected areas.

 The President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau, launched an agreement called the Micronesia Challenge. This aims to protect 30 per cent of marine and 20 per cent of terrestrial resources on the islands by 2020. It represents more than 20% of the Pacific Island region and will protect 10% of the global reef area and 462 coral species representing 58% of all known corals.

The President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, announced the establishment of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area as a national park. It is the world's third-largest marine park and the first protected area with deep-sea habitat, including underwater mountains. Two NGOs, the New England Aquarium in the US and Conservation International are helping set up an endowment to pay for the park's management costs and compensate the Government for revenue lost.  

Inspired by its counterparts in the Pacific the Caribbean nation of Grenada made a Declaration to put 25 per cent of near-shore marine and 25 per cent of terrestrial resources under effective conservation by 2020. The Declaration will lead to a nine-fold increase in the total area of protection in Grenada's marine environment and more than double protection of its terrestrial environment.

The world's islands are home to more than 600 million people and represent one quarter of the nations of the world, 16 per cent of the planet's known plant species and more than half of the world's  tropical marine biodiversity.  Half of the species in the world that have become extinct have been island species. Without immediate action, islands face continued damage to
species, biodiversity and human inhabitants' way of life.

“Many governments and NGOs are eager to step up conservation efforts in islands, whose extremely threatened biodiversity is the basis for the livelihoods of millions of people,” said Martha Chouchena-Rojas, Head of the delegation for the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
Nature Seychelles’ Rachel Bristol said, “The NGO community has responded enthusiastically, promising to provide technical and financial support to help islands meet their commitments. Nature Seychelles will be working with BirdLife International, one of the sponsors of the Global Island Partnership event, as well as other international partners to do this”

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