Australia is proud to have co-hosted such a successful IUCN World Parks Congress and equally proud of our own commitments in its major outcome – the Promise of Sydney.
Our promises range from banning capital dredge disposal in the Great Barrier Reef and a historic agreement with China to ban mining in Antarctica, to new initiatives to recover the rainforests of the Asia-Pacific and to halt threatened species loss in our national parks.
It has been an inspirational Congress and now it is time to deliver the innovative solutions to the challenges facing our planet.
Australia’s key commitments include:
• We will ban capital dredge disposal in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
• Yesterday we signed an historic agreement with China to ban mining in Antarctica.
• I have pledged Australia’s support for the international effort to fight wildlife crime. We will help develop a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly to prevent poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking.
• We announced $2 million to boost threatened species protection in national parks, $6 million to support Coral Triangle marine protection and $6 million to combat illegal logging across the Asia-Pacific. We also announced $100,000 for a new university-led initiative to boost the skills of rangers, both in Australia and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
• We committed $1.2 million for Bush Blitz – an innovative species discovery program borne out a partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia. This programme has already uncovered more than 825 new species.
• We dedicated $700,000 from our $40 million Reef Trust to clean up marine debris across the Great Barrier Reef.
• We committed to working with the United Nations General Assembly to protect the biodiversity of the high seas.
• We announced a new initiative that will see Australian universities getting together to better plan out training, including business training, for rangers and park managers. By next year, the Protected Areas Learning and Research Collaboration will be offering these courses to students in Australia and across the Asia-Pacific region.
The Promise of Sydney captures the boldest and most strategic thinking of the past few days. It clearly states that nature really is the foundation of our lives, our economy and our aspirations.
Australia has had involvement in the World Parks Congress – both as co-host and through the many high-level discussions that have taken place.
The World Parks Congress only happens every 10 years and with more than 10,000 parks and protected areas in Australia, it was critical we played a major part.
Over 17 per cent of Australia’s landscape is now part of our country’s parks and protected area network, meeting global targets set for us in Aichi 2010.
I look forward to working with my colleagues from all walks of life to continue Australia’s global contribution to parks and protected areas. Parks and protected areas are helping secure a healthier future for the world. It’s important in turn we keep them healthy.
As the largest island nation in the world, we have a strong commitment to ocean conservation and management, particularly in our region, the Asia Pacific.
I commend everyone involved in making the 2014 World Parks Congress a great success.