Following breakfast we got on a coach to the conference centre with the parliamentarians from GLOBE international. My presentation was first. I described the goods and services provided by the oceans, everything from fish to eat to the recycling of nutrients and oxygen production. I then went on to describe the major threats to the oceans including overfishing, pollution, climate change and invasive species. The talk was followed by a presentation by Professor Takeuchi on the Japanese Satoyama / Satoumi initiative. This is a new idea for managing human activities on land and in the sea and is based on a concept of living in harmony with natural ecosystems. There followed a presentation by Député Jerome Bignon on France’s efforts to conserve the marine ecosystem. The Honourable Noah Idechong, Speaker of the House in Palau, then stood up and presented the Marine Ecosystems Recovery Plan Part 2 (Coral Reefs) to the gathered parliamentarians. He then said something very touching:
He followed this with a call to immediate action to legislators to play their part in protecting the oceans. There followed an opportunity for interventions from the parliamentarians. These were numerous and showed that our presentations had generated a great deal of interest amongst the delegates. Germany started things rolling by asking whether we wanted to ban all fishing and perhaps replace it with aquaculture. I replied saying that coming from a fishing family I would not like to see a prohibition on fishing. The whole point of the Marine Ecosystems Recovery Plan was to restore fish stocks and make them more productive. I many cases around Britain we were fishing for the last few percent of fish stocks and in the EU 80% of fisheries were overexploited compared to about 25% elsewhere. Japan, Chile, Indonesia, Guinea Bissau, Sri Lanka, Greece, Angola all followed and contributed to a lively discussion. This ranged in topics from sustainable aquaculture, the Satoumi Initiative, marine protected areas, monitoring control and enforcement, EU partnership agreements, and the situation in individual states with respect to work to conserve the marine environment.
Because of the interest generated we continued with questions until a coffee break at 11.00. I then went to a side event on Ecosystem-Based Approaches for Adaptation and gave a presentation on the Marine Ecosystems Recovery Plan II (Coral Reefs). Other presentations were on World Meteorological Organisation work on predicting coral bleaching events, manatees, invasive species and the Global Environment Facility. During the question and answer session following these presentations a delegate from Malaysia described the terrible impacts of the coral bleaching event this year and how they had to close many of their MPAs to tourists because all the corals were bleached. Another delegate asked about geoengineering solutions to CO2 emissions from the oceans. I got back to the GLOBE conference room just in time to catch the coach to lunch. In the afternoon there was a presentation of the reports associated with The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) programme by its leader Pavan Sukdev. The TEEB reports show how the natural capitol of the world can be valued and then how this information can be used to inform decision making. For example, coral reefs may be worth as much as $189,000 US/hectare/year for natural hazard management and as much as $1 million US/hectare/year for tourism. There followed a panel attended by Dr Ahmad Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary for the CBD, Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, Ms Monique Barbut, President and CEO of the Global Environment Facility and Ms Inger Andersen, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank. The Japanese Minister for the Environment also turned up during the session. Ahmad Djoghlaf welcomed the parliamentarians from GLOBE and pointed out that this was a unique event, combining the work of parliamentarians and the CBD. Achim Steiner talked about the importance of TEEB in “making the invisible, visible”, referring to the fact that the reports would help decision makers to recognise the value of biodiversity and conserve it rather than mining it. He stated that we risked losing biodiversity before we fully understood its value. He also made the point that in the twenty first century we had become actually more dependent on the environment as opposed to less because of the stress placed on naturally ecosystems and an increasing population. He also said that we needed to take oil out of the economy and make the transition to a less polluting society. Monique Barbut pointed out that legislators were often missing from conservation work meaning that many projects failed and the International Commission on Land Use Change and Ecosystems was helping to make sure governments participated in GEF projects. She said the scientists, economists and legislators of GLOBE were able to send a simple but effective message to parliamentarians to act on environmental issues. We were all very pleased to hear that our work on forests, marine ecosystems and on valuing natural capitol was much appreciated and that she was looking forward to working with the ICLUCE / GLOBE on phase two of the project. Inger Anderson pointed out that the World Bank had been trying to push the Natural Capitol agenda since the 1990s but now this was possible. She stated that we had failed to hit the 2002 targets (to slow down the rate of biodiversity loss) but that there was an army of economists waiting to work with ministers of finance in valuation of natural capitol projects. There followed a question and answer question. GLOBE then approved the Nagoya Declaration. The working day was completed by a video presentation by the Nobel Laureata Wangari Maathai and a showing of the Zoological Society of London’s “Stories for Our Children The World in 2050”. This is a very hard-hitting series of images where the planet starts off healthy in the 1960s and then by 2050 dies as humankind overexploits and destroys the natural resources of the planet. It ends by saying “Parents, grandparents, schoolteachers, doctors, lawyers, dog walkers, politicians, zookeepers, children’s book writers, bankers, religious leaders and the military all knew this was happening, but not enough was done. Sorry”. You could have heard a pin drop at that point, it is a very disquieting piece of film / animation. It did go onto say that it is possible to avoid this fate and pointed to: http://www.zsl.org/solutions , a website which has both the film and a click on menu for a whole range of solutions that help people to reduce their impact on Earth and information on sustainability. I suggest you try it – but I’m warning you, the video is depressing….
Following the meeting we went to a very restaurant with very beautiful walled gardens, including one with a 1000 year old tree. I sat down to dinner with Kawada Ryuhei, a member of the Upper House of the Japanese Parliament (House of Councillors) and Mr Kondo Shoichi, a member of the Lower House of the Japanese Parliament (House of Representatives). With an interpreter at the table, a delightful lady who led the team of translators at the GLOBE meeting, we discussed marine ecosystems and their conservation. Mr Shiochi was interest to know what we felt about Satoumi and we also discussed marine protected areas and whether such areas should be placed in the high seas. We then had some speeches and returned to the hotel after which the GLOBE team went out for a welcome drink and relaxing chat.