Niue Explores Opportunities To Address Invasive Species At COP15

By Sosikeni Lesa 13 December 2022, 11:00AM

At the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Montreal Canada, Niue has thrown its support behind the Pacific region’s call for an effective and coherent Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) that reflects the needs of our communities, to conserve our unique biodiversity.

As negotiations to finalise a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework continues at the plenary halls, side rooms and corridors of the Palais des Congrès, Niue believes delegates from 193 countries must use the opportunity in Montreal to adopt a framework that addresses biodiversity challenges, especially the problem of invasive species.

“In Niue, the biggest challenge we face in terms of biodiversity is invasive species,” said Mr Hayden Talagi, of Niue's Department of Environment. He is among more than thirty delegates from Pacific countries amplifying our Pacific voice and priorities at the meeting.

“Invasive species is quite a big challenge not only in trying to manage them but we also struggle with eradication, monitoring and access to resources. We can talk a lot about the issues and set up marine protected areas but there is no point if invasive species continue to damage our environment and increase in numbers.”

Mr Talagi sees COP15 as an opportunity to secure financial assistance to help his country address the problem of invasive species, as well as other biodiversity challenges.

“Niue as a Small Island Developing State faces unique conditions in the effort to manage biodiversity and conservation, thanks in large part to our geographic situation, limited land, and vast ocean spaces,” he said.

“It is wonderful be here this week although it is very, very cold. For me and Niue, I am looking at opportunities, especially accessing the financing we need to protect our biodiversity. It is one thing to talk about action, which is okay because we need to act now, but we need adequate resources and finances to get the job done.”

In 1996, Niue ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity, showing the country’s commitment to the preservation of its biodiversity. But with the impacts of climate change and waste pollution adding to biodiversity losses, Mr Talagi said the Government is working very hard to try and resolve these challenges.

“Niue and SIDS are at the forefront of the impacts of not only climate change but pollution and biodiversity loss. So it is very important that we are represented at these international forums where our voice is heard,” he said.

“While all countries have a sovereign voice, I believe we can be stronger together as a group of countries, helping to further amplify our voice on the issues that matter to our people back home. If we don’t come to these meetings and fight for the needs of our communities, we will miss out on a lot of resources, access to technical support as well as the financing opportunities that present themselves to help us.”

And for Niue, Mr Talagi said dealing with invasive species is a priority, of which he wants to leave Montreal with a tangible outcome.

“This is very important for us because we know that in my country and in many Pacific nations, invasive species are a lead cause of species extinctions and have many negative impacts for our biodiversity, health and economies. So managing invasive species builds our island resilience we believe,” he said.

“I am here to represent the interest of our Niue people, and my job is to get best outcome from this meeting for them, in terms of what is best for them. So I need to leverage resources, whether it be financing, technical and other opportunities that present itself here in Montreal.”

According to UNEP’s 2022 State of Finance for Nature, current finance flows to nature-based solutions must double by 2025 and triple by 2030 to halt biodiversity loss, limit climate change to below 1.5 ˚C and achieve land degradation neutrality, and resilience to climate impacts such as heatwaves and flooding. These investments should support restoration efforts by sub-national governments.

Mr Talagi agrees and reiterates that Pacific islands need investments in capacity to manage and monitor the status of biodiversity and of human actions influencing native biodiversity.

As for the current discussion on the post 2020 GBF, Mr Talagi is optimistic that a framework will be adopted by the end of next week.

“It’s not going to be easy. There are going to be some contentious issues but I’m optimistic that we can secure and adopt a new framework in Montreal and start implementing. We want all the countries to get on the same page and do what they have committed to in terms of protecting the environment and our biodiversity.”

By Sosikeni Lesa 13 December 2022, 11:00AM
Samoa Observer

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