Remarks by Ambassador Hamamoto
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
It’s a real pleasure to welcome you to the U.S. Mission. We are very fortunate to have Inger Andersen with us tonight, Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
She and her team are here tonight to tell us more about the upcoming IUCN World Conservation Congress. And I’m very happy to co-host tonight’s event with Ambassador John Quinn from the Australian Mission. But before I turn it over to John, I just want to say a few things about the importance of the Congress that will take place this September in my home state of Hawaii – the first time the Congress is being held in the United States.
First, the Congress takes place only once every four years, so all of us – governments, scientists, civil society, and business – should seize this opportunity to shape the discussion on the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, from ocean protection and biodiversity loss to wildlife trafficking and climate change mitigation.
As Inger said herself, “The Congress will be a critical milestone on the road to true sustainability. It is where the policy makers meet the implementers… where solutions are showcased… where every sector of society brings its contribution.”
Last year, we made significant progress on many of these issues, in particular climate change, with the historic agreement reached in Paris last December. And the world also rallied around the Sustainable Development Goals, which, for the first time, apply universally to developed and developing countries alike. These are real breakthroughs.
But if 2015 was a year of commitment, 2016 is the year to take action. And the IUCN World conservation Congress is an important step in that direction, offering us all a chance to define the sustainable path for moving the Paris climate agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals from targets to achievements.
As I’m sure you all know, IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest environmental organization. With Inger at the helm, I’m confident that IUCN will help all of us set the course for some of the most critical issues we will face over the next few years. Inger has held leadership roles at the World Bank and the United Nations, bringing more than 30 years of experience in international development economics, environmental sustainability, and policy-making. She brings a passion for conservation and sustainable development that will be central to IUCN’s ongoing ambition of placing nature at the forefront of the global development agenda.
I am proud to have her as one of our Geneva Gender Champions, and I know that the role of women and girls will be central to the debates and decisions in Hawaii.
We are at a crossroads – our planet is at a crossroads. And that’s more than just the theme of this September’s Congress. As Inger reminded us recently, and I quote, “We are looking down two possible and very different futures. The path we choose will determine everything, and humanity will travel along this chosen route for generations and generations to come.” I know we’ll choose the right path –and your presence here tonight is a reminder that, together, we can create a better future… a future more respectful of nature and our environment.
So with that, I want to thank you again for coming. And it is now my pleasure to turn the floor over to the Director General of IUCN, Inger Andersen.