Statement by Senator Simon Stiell, Minister for Climate Resilience, Environment, Forestry, Fisheries, and Disaster Management.
Today, we recognise World Environment Day during these unprecedented times, with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic being felt globally.
Covid-19 originated in the wild, and has shown us how the overexploitation of nature can have negative consequences for humans. During the lockdown that followed, we were also forced to appreciate how dependent we are as humans, on nature. As part of a global community we are also aware of the mounting scientific evidence that nature is in serious decline and is now at crisis point.
The science tells us that we are losing species, habitats and ecosystems at unprecedented rates. And the science is clear that the drivers of these losses are getting more and more aggressive; drivers like climate change; habitat loss and conversion; deforestation; loss of our wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs; plastic pollution, over exploitation of hunted species, and the spread of invasive species, are now having devastating impacts on our economies, our health and our livelihoods.
The data indicates that biodiversity decline is now affecting our fresh water and food security; exposing our coastal zones and increasing our vulnerability to natural disasters; which in turn affects our health and well-being, and destabilises our economies.
In other words, these steep declines in biodiversity greatly affect the ability of nature to continue to provide the goods and services we need and depend upon.
For us, this translates to impacts to our fisheries, tourism and agriculture sectors – not just today but for generations to come.
With respect to the UN Sustainable Development Goals – there is now clear evidence that biodiversity and nature based solutions are critical to addressing poverty, health, hunger, energy, water, sanitation, and sustainable cities. The Convention on Biological Diversity reminds us that “Our Solutions are in Nature” and we can turn our challenges into an opportunity to do better. A chance to move beyond the business as usual approach to nature, and development, and reach for a new and more transformational approach to building back better with nature as a key partner.
Grenada remains committed to leadership in a post Covid-19 world – leadership in the spheres of the blue economy, innovative community centred ecosystem-based adaptation solutions, and resilience building, in this UN Decade of Restoration.
My World Environment Day message to you is simple: Our Solutions ARE in Nature! Let us take advantage of this opportunity to change the script – and shape our future to the one we want. If we take care of nature and manage it sustainably, it will take care of us. Nature provides the solutions – from food security to climate mitigation and even pandemic control – our solutions are in nature!