Kia ora koutou katoa.
I want to thank China for hosting this critically important Conference of the Parties.
We are all here for the same reason. Biodiversity loss, and the ongoing degradation of nature, are accelerating at an unprecedented rate. These losses are causing irreparable harm to our planet’s ability to sustain life.
This makes it vital that we adopt an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework. It will be a key step towards transforming society’s relationship with nature and reversing the trend of loss.
Many of the solutions are mutually supportive. Protecting our oceans for example also helps protect vulnerable migratory species like albatross – a taonga, or cultural treasure – while adopting smarter, more sustainable fishing practices will ensure the long-term viability of these vital industries and livelihoods.
Biodiversity loss and climate change must also be addressed together, for example through nature based solutions which protect and restore our native, carbon-rich ecosystems.
But getting the framework right is just the first step. How each of us then champions and implements the new framework will determine its success. We must be wary of targets becoming the new proxy for action: delivery will be critical.
COVID-19 has been destructive in so many ways. But it has also caused us to stop, reimagine and plan for a stronger, more enduring future, with nature as its foundation.
New Zealand has chosen to put nature at the very heart of its future. The $1.2 Billion Jobs for Nature programme brings thousands of people into nature-based employment, and strengthens the conservation sector. It is exciting to see other countries investing in similar ways.
The new Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, Te Mana o te Taiao, also provides a bold direction for restoring nature and provides both a pathway and a call to action for Māori, community, business, and government.
The global biodiversity framework is an opportunity to elevate partnerships with indigenous peoples. It can reinforce the importance of biodiversity to indigenous peoples, their role as guardians and the place of traditional knowledge in restoring nature.
Another action with potentially transformative power is recognising the rights of nature. This innovative approach to governance has been applied in New Zealand, and gives indigenous peoples and local communities a stronger voice in how natural resources are conserved and managed.
New Zealand stands ready to work creatively with all of you towards an ambitious and truly transformational post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
I’ll leave you with this thought:
Toitū te marae a Tāne, toitū te marae a Tangaroa, toitū te tangata.
If the land is well and the sea is well, the people will thrive.