For the first time the EU’s overseas entities have come together at a meeting in Reunion Island, calling for action on climate change impacts to help preserve nature, says IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) at the Reunion Conference on Climate Change and Biodiversity in EU Overseas Entities (7-11 July).
With mounting pressure on the environment and people’s livelihoods better management and research is needed to identify the threats posed by climate change, allowing for appropriate adaptation measures in EU overseas entities.
“IUCN is fully aware of the exceptional importance of biodiversity in EU overseas entities when compared with continental Europe, and their particular vulnerability to climate change,” says IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre. “Whether in Reunion, Greenland or Tahiti, biodiversity is one of the main assets for the well-being of the populations and the economic development of these territories.”
Considering the high degree of plant, bird and animal species found nowhere other than within these entities, specific climate scenarios must be developed for each, supported by regional modelling which should build on EU-backed research programmes.
EU overseas entities are facing up to not only the threat of climate change impacts but also other, often interrelated, environmental factors such as invasive alien species, illegal fishing, overexploitation of resources, pollution and habitat destruction. Now combined with climate change, these threats put at risk the economies and the unique cultures of the EU overseas entities.
Taking into account the socio-economic consequences and risks of these threats, the EU must provide the finances to guarantee environmental security to residents, with regard to their security, health and well-being.
“The representation of EU overseas entities in relevant international and regional fora must be improved,” adds Marton-Lefèvre. “And then we must improve access to global, EU and regional financing mechanisms.”
Many of the EU overseas entities – like Reunion island itself - have ambitious and exciting plans for renewable energies. In the implementation of these plans it is crucial to take into account the potential impacts on biodiversity
All concerned EU member states and the EU itself should realize that having such a network of 28 overseas entities spread across the world’s oceans provides a unique opportunity for environmental action in key parts of the world.
“Much of what can be done to reduce the impacts of climate change on EU overseas entities can be scaled up for application in mainland Europe. What we need now from the EU is research, investment and action,” says Marton-Lefévre. “This meeting has been a wonderful opportunity for representatives from across the world to come together and move us one step forward to a workable solution to the ever-pressing problem of climate change and biodiversity loss.”
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