A range of new and significant commitments to conserve nature in Europe’s overseas islands and regions were announced at Island Innovations, a dynamic high level event held during the UN Conference on Biodiversity (CBD COP11), in Hyderabad, India. Those include the continuous support of the European Parliament to the EU's BEST Preparatory Action and the British Virgin Islands’ involvement in the Caribbean Challenge Initiative.
Island Innovations showcased the leadership and commitment to action of island countries and countries with islands to developing solutions to environmental and poverty challenges.
The Honorable Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) announced that BVI will co-host a Caribbean Political and Business Leaders Summit with Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group and the Prime Minister of Grenada in 2013 as part of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative. The Summit will build on the visionary commitments of Caribbean Challenge countries to protect near shore marine areas by 2020 and in developing sustainable finance mechanisms to support these goals.
The Honorable Mr Maurice Ponga, Member of the European Parliament from New Caledonia announced that the European Parliament will support a third phase of the European Union (EU) funding of 2 million Euros under the Voluntary Scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services in Territories of European Overseas (BEST) and push to better integrate EU overseas biodiversity conservation and resource management in EU policies.
Island ecosystems are critical to the health of the world. The earth’s 175,000 plus islands are home to 600million plus people and support 20% of global biodiversity, including a huge number of species found nowhere else. For example, most of the EU's biodiversity is found in its overseas islands and regions. Located outside the European continent and spread across all oceans, they cover a land area equivalent in size to continental Europe and have a combined Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of over 15 million km², the largest in the world.
The increasing challenges facing islands are massive, threatening the very existence of some islands. Yet islands are taking action and making progress to conserve their unique and invaluable environments.
“Islands are working together, getting results and showing the way to achieve the Aichi targets,” stated Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), "but further action is urgently needed to conserve and protect the unique island ecosystems and surrounding seas."
Dr. Rolph Payet, Minister for Environment & Energy of Seychelles reinforced this statement affirming, “The time for action is now. We must continue to take leadership, to make visionary commitments and ensure these commitments are implemented on the ground. We must scale up the bright spots emerging from islands and invest in what works. We must continue to work together as a Global Island Partnership.”
The event, co-hosted by Seychelles and India, demonstrated how islands are an example of global leadership and rapid progress in addressing environmental and poverty challenges. They are also inspiring others around the world by implementing a variety of successful large-scale initiatives including world-class marine protected areas, multi-country conservation commitments, progressive biosecurity planning and innovative financing mechanisms to support these programs.
Island Innovations was coordinated by the Global Island Partnership and Rare with the support of the Japan Biodiversity Fund, the Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat, the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) through the BEST Preparatory Action, as well as the ISLANDS Project funded by the EU through the Indian Ocean Commission.
- Please download the full GLISPA/Rare press release for the list of all commitments announced during the event;
- Please contact the IUCN Europe Overseas Programme for more information on the engagement of Europe overseas in this and other events held during the CBD COP 11.