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Govt. report warns of loss of terrestrial biodiversity

The Government has warned that the loss of Samoa’s terrestrial biodiversity is worsening despite the progress that is being made in achieving most of its environmental goals.

The concerns about the loss of the nation’s terrestrial biodiversity were raised in a Samoa Government-authored report titled “Samoa’s Second Voluntary National Review on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals”, which was prepared by the S.D.G. Taskforce and published June 30, 2020.

The report has recommended that the relevant agencies look at consumption and production patterns, especially in relation to terrestrial biodiversity.

The effects of climate change on Samoa also continues to be an ongoing challenge, though the report emphasised that the solution lies in having global commitment to address the issue.

“Despite progress in most environmental goals, the loss of our terrestrial biodiversity is worsening, and a significant portion of our remaining forest cover is non-native. Ensuring further improvement in sustainable consumption and production patterns are critical,” the report states. “The biggest challenge is despite all our mitigation efforts, to fully address the climate change issue, it is significant global commitment that is important. Otherwise, disasters continue to regularly disrupt our development efforts and cause losses of lives, livelihoods and public infrastructure setting us back years and exacerbating hardship situations.”

The country’s vulnerability to environmental threats has enabled lessons to be learnt over the years, which the report says has resulted in further investment in “building resilience and learning to build back better.”

“The goals that protect our planet and our environment are clearly integrated into the work of the environment sector and is a cross cutting priority for the Government. Samoa with the support of all its partners continues to build resilience to disasters and climate change by strengthening our adaptive capacity, early warning systems and disaster risk planning and response.”

The Government continues to engage with the community, non-government organisations, youth, children and the private sector in a bid to boost its climate-resilience building efforts through mitigation and adaptation initiatives.

“These initiatives also help improve their livelihoods, food security and women and youth empowerment. Our communities are also fully engaged in our marine and terrestrial sustainable protection and development efforts which include significant marine protected areas, national park reserves and marine sanctuaries,” the report reiterated.

The push to promote the conservation of Samoa’s flora and fauna will also boost tourism, the report emphasised as well as complement what the Government described as “healthy living”.

“We have also taken leadership in the fight against plastics with a national ban on plastic bags in 2019 and on Styrofoam plates, containers, and cups by June 2020. We are also on track to meet our nationally determined contributions and maintain our commitments to the Paris Agreement, the UNFCCC, and all the multilateral environmental agreements.”

The report stressed that with the support of all its partners, Samoa “continues to build resilience to disasters and climate change by strengthening our adaptive capacity, early warning systems and disaster risk planning and response.”

However, even “all the best laid plans” are not possible without appropriate financing, resources and capacity, the report warns. It said even the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is “ambitious” and is unlikely to be implemented unless there is a sector-wide approach.

All the best laid plans cannot happen unless there is adequate financing, resources, and capacities to implement. The S.D.Gs are ambitious and for a SIDS like Samoa with its inherent challenges and limited resources, better coordination, identifying synergies and interlinkages is key. Implementing all the S.D.Gs will rely on effective means of implementation through a sector wide and whole of society approach.”

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