Climate Change Flotilla Welcomed To Sydney Harbour

admin's picture

Pacific Islands leaders sail in to join World Parks Congress

By Peta Yoshinaga and environment reporter Jake Sturmer

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 1322014) – New South Wales' Environment Minister Rob Stokes has welcomed Pacific Island leaders into Sydney Harbour, as the World Parks Congress begins with more than 5,000 delegates gathering in the city to participate in this once-in-a-decade event.

A flotilla of canoes from the Pacific Islands has reached Darling Harbour marking the end of a voyage to highlight the need for more action to tackle climate change, with their final destination being the International Union for Conservation of Nature Sixth World Parks Congress (IUCN).

The Vaka canoes of the Mua Voyage sailed across the harbour this morning with Pacific Island leaders from Kiribati, Cook Islands and Palau on board.

They sailed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge before arriving at the Australian National Maritime Museum for the official welcoming ceremony.

It is the first time a fleet of traditional voyaging canoes has sailed to Australia, with crews embarking on a 6,000 nautical mile journey.

The Mua voyaging canoes have navigated by the stars on the voyage from the Cook Islands, Samoa and Fiji to Coffs Harbour - and finally Sydney.

Indigenous land managers have big role to play: Greg Hunt

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the IUCN World Parks Congress brings together people from all walks of life to identify better ways of looking after our protected areas for future generations.

Delegates from 168 different countries, including 30 international environment ministers and five heads of state, will share knowledge and innovation, setting the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come.

Building on the theme of Parks, People Planet: Inspiring Solutions, the event will present, discuss and create original approaches for conservation and development, helping to address the gap in the conservation and sustainable development agenda.

"Australia's Indigenous land managers and rangers play a big role in this," Mr Hunt said.

"By managing parks and Indigenous Protected Areas they are keeping culture and country strong, benefitting all Australians, while providing meaningful jobs and business development opportunities back to their own communities.

"That's why it's important Australia contributes to the conversation at IUCN World Parks Congress."

Mr Stokes echoed his federal counterpart.

"Traditional owners continue to be an immense source of knowledge in the management of protected areas in NSW with almost a quarter of the state's parks estate now under Aboriginal joint management agreements," Mr Stokes said.

NSW announces new national park

During the launch of the Congress, the New South Wales Government announced it had created a new national park in the Northern Rivers region.

Mr Stokes said the park, called the Everlasting Swamp, was a crucial wetland area.

"[It] provides a critical role in terms of migratory bird habitat, and also in purifying the local waters that travel into the Pacific Ocean," he said.

"[It] is one of the largest coastal floodplain wetlands remaining in NSW and an intact ecosystem of this size is extremely rare and globally significant.

"The Congress will provide a wonderful opportunity to showcase to the world, the state's ... 865 national parks and reserves, further bolstering the approximately 38 million visitors our parks estate attracts each year."

The future of the Great Barrier Reef is likely to feature in many discussions at the meeting but the IUCN is optimistic that the Great Barrier Reef will not be placed on the World Heritage Committee's in-danger list.

The committee is currently deciding whether to recommend the reef be declared "in danger" at its meeting in Germany next year.

But IUCN director-general Julia Marton-Lefèvre said she believed the government was listening to the concerns raised by the committee and the union.

"I'm grateful for the fact that the Australian government has entered into a dialogue with us about this. So we will know next year but I think we're making progress together," she said.

Rate this article: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Add new comment