Address to the Rio+20 Nature Conservancy "Blue and Green Economy" Breakfast, Rio de Janeiro
THU 21 JUNE 2012
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I welcome this historic opportunity to join with leaders of like-minded countries to renew our commitment to the marine environments of the world.
Oceans are the foundation of livelihoods, economies and cultures… a rich source of inspiration and life.
My island home Australia has a great stake in the life of our oceans.
The ocean is of profound innate value to Australians, who overwhelmingly live on the coast.
And Australia has a large stake in the Blue Economy.
So Australia welcomes the resolve expressed here at Rio+20 to step up our efforts for our oceans.
Our oceans are threatened.
Some threats vary in their size and scale in different regions – such as pollution, habitat destruction and overfishing – then there is the global threat that affects us all, climate change, including the significant resulting problem of ocean acidification.
And we know the ocean challenge is not simple.
Rather, it is a demanding and dynamic work of stewardship and ongoing management.
These are the challenges of sustainable development that governments have been attempting to manage for at least the last twenty years since the first Rio Earth Summit conference.
Australia is a committed guardian of the oceans for which we are responsible as a nation.
And we are a strong advocate for international action to ensure a sustainable future for the oceans of the world.
That is why my Government recently announced our plan to establish the world’s largest and most comprehensive national network of marine reserves…
Putting more than three million square kilometres of Australia’s oceans under conservation management.
Protecting the habitat for more than half of the world’s species of dolphin and whale, home to six of the seven known species of marine turtle and containing thousands of species of fish.
The marine reserves network will include marine creatures and habitats ranging from the great reefs and green turtles of the Coral Sea to the deeps of the Diamantina Fracture Zone to the Blue Whales of the Perth Canyon off Australia's south-west coast.
It ensures these remarkable natural treasures will be preserved for future generations and showcased for the peoples of the world and the many yearly visitors to our shores.
This achievement fulfils Australia’s “Johannesburg” commitment to establish a representative system of marine protected areas by 2012.
We have a strong tradition of working with neighbours in regional fisheries management organisations, especially in the Pacific, to support the sustainable management of their oceans.
Australia is committed to providing practical support for developing countries to achieve their sustainable development objectives. We have doubled our Pacific fisheries assistance over the last four years, to about $11.7 million this year [2011-12].
This funding is helping improve food security in those communities that depend upon fisheries for their livelihood, by working with those communities to better manage coastal fisheries and near shore marine resources.
We have also provided more than $160 million over the past four years to help Pacific Island countries adapt to the impacts of climate change… as well as supporting Caribbean countries to reduce the marine impacts of climate change too.
I am pleased to announce today that we will increase our support for the Coral Triangle Initiative which has been led by my good friend President Yudhoyono.
Over 300 million people in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste rely on healthy marine environments for food, livelihoods and economic prosperity.
The Coral Triangle Initiative is helping empower these communities to sustainably manage and utilise these resources.
We will provide a further $8 million in direct support over four years to augment the $5.4 million we have committed to date. This funding will provide support to Coral Triangle countries to help them effectively manage and utilise marine and coastal resources and ecosystems.
One project we are already funding is the provision of Landsat satellite imagery of Timor-Leste’s north coast to the Timor-Leste government. This is a first step in mapping and assessment of the coastal marine habitats of Timor-Leste… a foundation for sustainable coastal management.
And I am also pleased to announce today that, over the next four years, Australia will provide up to $25 million to support the Pacific Oceanscape Framework being developed by the Pacific Islands Forum.
This will fund improved coastal resource management including for fisheries and climate change adaptation, support to Pacific Island countries to ensure maritime boundaries are internationally recognised as well as increased assistance to help address the threat of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Australia is proud to be an advocate for the world’s oceans…
And we are proud to work with the peoples of the world who live near and depend on the marine environment; indigenous communities island communities or coastal communities.
The oceans of the world feed billions of our people, their wealth generates hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of millions of jobs.
They are a treasure we share – a treasure we can only benefit from by working together to ensure their sustainable future.