Protecting Overseas Entities - new report

31 May 2010, Brussels. Mr Russell Mittermeier, Vice President of IUCN and President of Conservation International on Monday launched the IUCN publication: ‘Climate Change and Biodiversity in the European Union Overseas Entities’.

Russ Mittermier

“This is the first time that any publication deals with environmental issues in all overseas territories. These areas are an opportunity to address at scale the management of the links between biodiversity, climate change, human wellbeing and ecosystem services” Mr Russell Mittermeier, Vice President of IUCN and President of Conservation International.

The report looks at the importance of these overseas territories which although scattered across the globe are still linked to Europe. The 28 regions and territories are generally overlooked by the global community although they host an outstanding diversity of landscapes, ecosystems and species. They also play a key role in climate mitigation and adaptation. These regions and territories are home to far more biodiversity than the European continent itself.

This report comprehensively looks at the ecological challenges facing all 28 EU overseas entities. The objective of this publication, which is intended as a reference document, is to establish the current state of existing knowledge on the impacts of climate change on the biodiversity of the European Union overseas entities. This document starts with a thematic analysis of European overseas biodiversity, the reality of climate change, the new threats it presents for natural resources, and the resulting socio-economic implications. This analysis presents a general overview of the global and sectoral data related to overseas territories, and highlights certain notable examples in the individual regions. The document then provides a geographical analysis of the impacts of climate change on biodiversity in the 28 European Union overseas entities. These have been divided into seven large geographical areas: the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, the South Pacific, Macaronesia, the Amazon, the Polar Regions and the South Atlantic. For each entity a non-exhaustive overview of the current state of biodiversity, observed or potential impacts of climate change on the natural resources, and the resulting socio-economic implications are presented. For some regions, examples of strategies to adapt to or mitigate the effects of climate change that deserve particular mention have been highlighted.

The publication is available to download from the IUCN website in both French and English and will be soon available in Spanish.

As a follow-up to the very successful 2008 Reunion Island Conference, entitled «The EU and its Overseas Entities: Strategies in the Face of Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss», this publication represents a major effort to raise awareness and inspire action at local, regional, national, European and global levels.

“Only through cooperation and action within the EU, regionally and internationally, can we address these challenges. IUCN would like to thank the government of France for its generous support of the programme’ said Dominique Benzaken, Programme Coordinator - EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries Territories at IUCN.

Until quite recently these regions have been overlooked both by the EU and the global community, and funding from traditional sources has been difficult as they are officially part of wealthy European Nations. However, awareness is now growing that the seven Outermost Regions (ORs) and twenty-one Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) of the EU are of great global ecological importance, that they face serious challenges, and that they should receive specific attention and funding.

In 2008, IUCN convened with the support of the government of France and the Regional Council of the Island of the Reunion the first conference on EU Overseas Entities. The conference brought together governments, the European Commission, experts and civil society to develop a plan of action to address biodiversity loss and the impacts of climate change in Europe’s Entities. The message of la Reunion which was endorsed at the conference proposed a series of concrete proposals to protect overseas entities biodiversity, their economies and way of life. 

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