Statement by Minister for National Development of Singapore Mah Bow Tan at the High Segment of the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. We are all here because we believe in the cause and recognize the necessity and urgency of the task before us to conserve our biodiversity. But the journey to achieve our goal will be long and challenging.
2. With the unprecedented growth in urbanisation, cities will increasingly exert more pressure on our natural environment and resources. However, I believe that cities will be the key to the solution, not, as many have portrayed, part of the problem. Cities can be the springboard of innovation and ideas.
Creating an Urban Ecosystem
3. Let me share with you Singapore’s experience in biodiversity conservation as a city-state.
4. We are 5 million people living on an island of 700 square kilometres, which we share with over 2,000 native plant species, 360 bird species, 300 butterfly species, and 100 reptile species. Our waters are home to 260 hard coral species, which is one third of the global number, and 50 per cent of the seagrass species found in the Indo-Pacific region.
5. We believe that our rich biodiversity is an intrinsic part of our city’s character, attractiveness, and way of life. We strive to create an urban ecosystem, which allows humans, flora and fauna to co-exist in harmony, not only in our nature reserves but also our urban areas.
6. We have built a network of green corridors and green connectors in townships and city streets to link up our many parks. We are now constructing Southeast Asia’s first eco-linkway across a major motorway which will allow animals to cross between two nature reserves. We are creating new butterfly trails along our roadside and residential estates, and lakes and ponds for colourful bird and insect life in our new 100ha garden in the city centre.
Development of the City Biodiversity Index
7. Two years ago, when we met in Bonn at the COP-9 meeting, I proposed the idea of a tool to help cities identify and measure biodiversity. Today, I am pleased to report to you that Singapore, the CBD Secretariat and the Global Partnership on Cities and Biodiversity have jointly developed a City Biodiversity index now referred to as the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity. Over 30 cities from around the world are now in various stages of test-bedding the Singapore index.
8. Biodiversity can make cities stand out, and be a competitive advantage to attract talent and investments. It can drive economic growth, in areas such as pharmaceutical R&D, technology innovation and nature tourism. Notably, the Economics of Ecosystem and Biodiversity (TEEB) study team hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has highlighted the potential of using the Singapore Index to measure the economic benefits of biodiversity.
9. I am pleased to learn that the Parties will formally adopt the Plan of Action on Sub-national Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2011-2020) at the COP10 Plenary on 29 October 2010.
10. Closer partnerships between governments, non-governmental organisations, and businesses are key to implementing this Plan. Singapore strongly supports this Plan. As our commitment to forward this process, I would like to offer the World Cities Summit and the Mayors’ Forum held in Singapore, as platforms for sharing experiences and best practices on conserving biodiversity and addressing the pressing challenges facing cities today. As the World Cities Summit is held every two years in June, a few months before CBD COP, a Cities and Biodiversity Session within the Summit can serve as a preparatory meeting for cities to report on their progress in biodiversity conservation and the application of the Singapore Index. The deliberations of the session could then be reported to CBD COP.
11. Let us work hand-in-hand to build on our efforts towards successful biodiversity conservation in cities in the years ahead.
12. Thank you.
Source: National Parks Board