United Nations General Assembly: Our Common Agenda thematic debate - Protecting our planet and being prepared for the future

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Delivered by Permanent Representative, H.E. Ms. Carolyn Schwalger

Mr President,

New Zealand aligns itself with the statement made by Fiji, on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum. We will also deliver remarks in our national capacity.

“Protecting our planet and being prepared for the future” sits at the heart of the Our Common Agenda.

Climate change represents the single greatest threat to people’s livelihoods, security and wellbeing in the Blue Pacific.

We welcome the outcome of COP26, in particular the progress on coal and fossil fuel subsidies.

However greater action is urgently required this decade, in particular by major economies.

Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is critical.

New Zealand is committed to climate action compatible with the 1.5 degree temperature limit. We urge member states that have not already aligned their NDCs with 1.5 degrees to do so.

New Zealand recently quadrupled our 2022-25 climate finance pledge. Our priority is adaptation and meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in the Pacific.

The intersectionality between climate change and biodiversity is clear.

Nature benefits our lives and societies in innumerable ways. But nature is in trouble.

Adopting an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework which transforms society’s relationship with nature and reverses the trend of loss is a legacy we must leave future generations.

The IPCC report on the ocean and cryosphere and the second World Ocean Assessment are stark – human pressure is putting the ocean’s ability to provide services essential to human life at grave risk.

Member States have given ourselves appropriate opportunities to take the necessary action. We must:

-Conclude an effective, ambitious treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction in 2022;

-Use the second UN Ocean Conference to accelerate progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14;

-Take advantage of the UN Decade of Ocean Science to fill gaps in our knowledge; and

-Address marine plastic pollution, including through the recently launched negotiations on a global treaty.

New Zealand recognises the urgent need to put in place measures to ensure a crisis of the magnitude of COVID-19 never happens again.

The World Health Organisation must remain at the centre of global efforts to improve the legal framework for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. We support the vision of an independent, sustainably financed, well-governed and empowered WHO.

The Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response proposed that Heads of State and Government adopt a political declaration on pandemic preparedness at a General Assembly Special Session. New Zealand fully supports this proposal as a means to secure cross-sectoral commitments for pandemic preparedness at the highest level.

Finally, New Zealand wishes to reiterate that the concept of the Global Commons does not and cannot be applied to Antarctica and the seas surrounding it. The Antarctic Treaty System is the competent legal framework to address issues related to Antarctica

Thank you Mr President.


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