Speech | 13 Jun, 2024

Message from IUCN Regional Director Oceania: Embracing the Theme "Be Part of the Plan"

As we commemorate World Biodiversity Day this year, it's essential to embrace the theme "Be Part of the Plan." This theme underscores the collective responsibility we all share in safeguarding biodiversity and ensuring a sustainable future for our planet.

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Photo: IUCN Oceania Regional Director Leituala Tago at the Opening of the Protected and Conserved Areas Workshop in Sydney.

"Be Part of the Plan" invites individuals, communities, governments, and organizations to actively engage in biodiversity conservation efforts. It recognizes that everyone has a role to play, whether it's advocating for policy changes, participating in conservation projects, or making sustainable choices in our daily lives.

At IUCN Oceania, we wholeheartedly embrace this theme as it resonates deeply with our mission and values. We believe that biodiversity conservation is not just the responsibility of environmentalists or policymakers but requires the collaboration and commitment of all stakeholders.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Oceania, in collaboration with the BIOPAMA programme, stands at the forefront of these efforts, significantly advancing conservation initiatives across Oceania and bolstering institutional and technical capacities at regional, national, and site levels.

BIOPAMA's role is pivotal, facilitating access to crucial data and information that empower stakeholders to make informed decisions, thereby strengthening conservation endeavors. This collaborative endeavor has led to a notable increase in Protected and Conserved Areas (PCAs), with approximately 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas and about 10% of the global ocean now under protection.

Encouraging consultation and dialogue among stakeholders is paramount for IUCN Oceania. The organization convenes members to strategize on supporting conservation interventions and meeting global targets. Recognizing the holistic nature of conservation work, IUCN emphasizes integrated oceans management, climate adaptation through nature-based solutions, and environmental law and governance.

IUCN is actively supporting Pacific Island countries in advancing the 30 x 30 agenda, utilizing the State of Protected and Conserved Areas Report to inform policy development. While progress has been made, challenges remain, necessitating a rethinking of regional approaches and national efforts to better achieve targets.

Drawing from indigenous wisdom, the journey towards conservation success requires internal solutions and collective action. PCAs play a vital role in biodiversity conservation, contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation while fostering social, economic, and environmental benefits. IUCN's global scope encompasses terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine PCAs, reflecting its expanding role over the years.

For over half a century, IUCN and the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) have led global efforts on PCAs, preserving critical habitats and biodiversity-rich areas crucial for climate adaptation. Looking ahead, fostering collaboration and leveraging international commitments are imperative to safeguarding our planet's biodiversity.

As we celebrate progress on World Biodiversity Day, let us renew our commitment to protecting the rich tapestry of life that sustains us all. Through collective action and unwavering dedication, we can forge a sustainable and resilient future for generations to come.