As a Pacific Islander, attending large political conferences like the CBD can be overwhelming. Back home in Fiji, I wear sandals every day, so running around in heels while carrying bags filled with documents and computers is hard to get used to in the first few days. The sheer size, grandeur, pomp, ceremony and complicated language (diplomatic-speak) might be enough to force any sane islander into a passenger seat role.
This is not the case for the Pacific Island nations that are part of the CBD- they are here in Nagoya, Japan tfighitng to protect our Pacific Ocean— the waters that have for generations sustained so much life under the waves and on land. We are here as Pacific Island people to ensure that our oceans are protected expeditiously and effectively.
Greenpeace is a partner along with the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), other environmental groups and the Environmental Defenders Office— all here to ensure that all of the life that is dependent on the Pacific- human and otherwise, is given the chance to survive.
There are four areas, or "pockets" of international waters that flank more than a dozen Pacific island countries which have already been declared off limits to purse-seine fishing by eight island countries: Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. Purse-seining is one of the most destructive fishing methods out there- one that must be stopped.
Large ocean states of the Pacific urgently require protection as it is integral to the lives of Pacific Islanders who are dependent on it. It is critical that our oceans are protected so that we maintain a healthy economy through a sustainable tuna fishing industry, help alleviate the impacts of climate change and create a better future for us and our generations to come.
Eight years ago, governments committed to significantly reduce biodiversity loss by 2010 and they have failed. The people of the Pacific who need healthy oceans and forests for survival need solutions, not another political failure. This meeting in Nagoya must produce the solutions to enable our planet to sustain future generations. Time is running out. The Pacific, our Planet and our Cchildren need more than empty promises.
Greenpeace wants a strong CBD Strategic Plan which creates a global network of marine reserves, a legally-binding protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) that that takes into account indigenous and local rights and which have strong compliance mechanisms.
If our planet is to sustain life on earth in the future and be rescued from the brink of environmental destruction, we need action by governments to protect our oceans and forests and to halt biodiversity loss.
Join me and the other Pacific Island communities in demanding more areas of our ocean set aside for the future- for all of us- as marine reserves. Together, we can tell the CBD that creating a rescue plan for our planet Can Be Done.
Seni Nabou is a Greenpeace Australia-Pacific Political Advisor, based in Suva, Fiji. She is currently part of the Greenpeace delegation at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan working to create healthy, living oceans for the future.