The Ministry of Planning and Development has recommended that Trinidad and Tobago sign the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature which calls for a reversal of biodiversity loss by 2030.
The pledge put forward ahead of the United Nations (UN) Summit on Biodiversity on September 30, 2020, describes biodiversity loss as one of three major factors that has pushed the world into a state of planetary emergency.
The pledge states that “the interdependent crises of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and climate change – driven in large part by unsustainable production and consumption – require urgent and immediate global action.”
So far, 77 political leaders have signed the pledge, taking up the call-to-action. This includes three representatives from the Caribbean nations of Barbados, Belize and St Lucia with Belize being the first in the region to sign.
In a virtual address to the summit which took place under the theme “Urgent action on biodiversity loss for sustainable development,” the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belize, Wilfred Elrington, explained his nation’s decision.
“We remain guided by what science has already clearly articulated: nature is essential for human existence and good quality of life.”
Reinforcing this idea, Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, told listeners that over 1 billion jobs are linked with nature.
He commended the signatories on the target they set of protecting 30% of land and marine resources by 2030.
The pledge states that adopting nations hope to send a united signal to step up global ambition and encourage others to match their collective ambition for nature, climate and people with the scale of the crisis at hand.
The Ministry of Planning and Development endorses the Leaders’ Pledge
Cari-Bois Environmental News reached out, on October 13th, to Kendal Fontenelle, Communications Director at the Ministry of Planning and Development (MOPD), who said that while T&T has not yet signed, the Ministry supports the “spirit and content of the Leaders’ Pledge.”
Fontenelle said that a recommendation for T&T’s endorsement was forwarded by the MOPD to the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, but that a timeline for a decision on the matter cannot yet be confirmed.
On September 29, 2020, the day before the UN summit, Omar Mohammed, Chief Executive Officer of The Cropper Foundation, sent a letter to the Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development, urging that Trinidad and Tobago sign the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature. Mohammed stated that such a commitment would serve to “further establish and make clear the Cabinet’s commitment to a sustainable and environmentally-centred recovery.”
The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) joined the call via a press release that praised Belize for being the first Caribbean nation to opt in and highlighted the fact that the Caribbean is one of 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world where nature is key to the livelihoods of our population of approximately 44 million.
T&T has yet to sign the Escazú Agreement
Similarly, CANARI, the Cropper Foundation and several other civil society organisations (CSOs) continue to urge the Government to also signal its commitment to environmental sustainability by becoming signatories to the Escazú Agreement, which is a groundbreaking treaty that deepens the link between environmental protection and human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The agreement guarantees the public’s right to information on environmental issues, while at the same time ensuring their right to informed participation in the environmental planning process. The agreement also eliminates obstacles to environmental justice and requires support for people or groups in vulnerable situations.
By acceding to the agreement and taking robust steps to implement it, countries of Latin America and the Caribbean would signal the region’s commitment to sustainable development, human rights and democracy.
With Argentina ratifying the agreement on September 27, 2020, the Escazú Agreement is now closer than ever to taking effect as it requires at least 11 signatures to become a reality. The tally currently stands at 10. Trinidad and Tobago is among a small group of countries in the region whose leadership has not given any public consideration to the matter.
We are at war with nature and nature is fighting back
In his opening remarks at the UN Summit on Biodiversity, UN Secretary-General Guterres declared that humanity is at war with nature and nature is fighting back.
“Oil Spills are devastating marine ecosystems, deforestation and forest fires are killing people and destroying habitats with incalculable economic costs. Even the covid-19 pandemic speaks to our dysfunctional relationship with nature,” he said.
Guterres lamented the fact that the world had failed to meet any of the Aichi biodiversity targets set under the ‘Strategic Plan for Biodiversity’ implemented from 2011 to 2020.
Guterres challenged political leaders to set higher ambitions in time for the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-15) which takes place from May 17-30, 2021, in China.
He said the world is counting on all leaders – government and private sector alike – to make decisive commitments to protect the planet and all life on it.
Using the link below, you can view a playlist leaders from politics, civil society and the business world taking the Leaders’ Pledge For Nature.