When climate, nature and human health intertwine, Singapore News & Top Stories


SINGAPORE – When I go for a run in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, I often pass by the lake where you can see the black swans.

For me, they are a beautiful representation of biodiversity on the planet. But they also serve as metaphors for ‘black swan’ events – unpredictable events with major impacts, like Covid-19.

The pandemic most likely had animal origins, and one lesson learned from the global epidemic is that globalization and the current socio-economic model should take more account of the natural world.

For too long, we have underestimated the economic impact of nature: almost half of the world’s gross domestic product depends on activities intrinsically linked to nature.

This approach was highlighted at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) congress held in Marseille, France earlier this month amid a global pandemic and an escalation of climate and biodiversity emergencies.

A conclusion can be drawn from the discussions between experts meeting in Marseille: Climate, nature and human health are inseparable.

The two sides of the same coin

Climate and biodiversity emergencies are not distinct, but two aspects of the same crisis.

If not carried out in a sustainable manner, human activity threatens the foundation of life on earth and our own survival.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that we cannot separate ourselves from nature – we are part of it and we depend on it for our lives and livelihoods.

Protecting nature can also help humanity cope with climate change.

Singapore has announced plans that show it is well aware of this, such as its plan to reforest its natural areas, including mangroves, to help sequester carbon as well as fight erosion and land elevation. sea ​​level.

Today humanity has reached a tipping point, and IUCN members have sent a powerful message to delegates gathered at the United Nations biodiversity and climate conferences in Kunming and Glasgow: Time for change is now.

The IUCN Congress focused on three main themes: the post-2020 biodiversity conservation framework, the role of nature in the global recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to transform the global financial system and direct investment in projects that benefit nature.

Resolutions adopted in Marseille include a call to protect 80% of the Amazon by 2025, to stop mining in the high seas across oceans, to take an ambitious one-health approach and the recognition of special emphasis on the rights and role of indigenous peoples. in conservation.

In total, IUCN has adopted 148 resolutions and recommendations such as:

• France’s commitment to reach 30% of protected areas at the national level by next year, and 5% of its Mediterranean maritime area to be under strong protection by 2027

• The agreement of more than 30 subnational governments, cities and partner organizations to expand universal access to high quality green spaces and to improve urban biodiversity in 100 cities, representing approximately 100 million citizens by 2025

• The commitment, under the leadership of the Western Indian Ocean States, IUCN and its partners to support the Great Blue Wall Initiative – the first network connected at the regional level to develop a regenerative blue economy in the benefit 70 million people, aiming to achieve the plastic-free oceans goal.

The need for systemic reform is urgent.

The Marseille Congress paved the way for stronger climate commitments at COP26 – the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November – and a global biodiversity framework to be addressed at COP15, the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity in Kunming next April.

In November 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping launched Beijing’s appeal for biodiversity conservation and climate change, reaffirming their firm commitment to strengthen international cooperation and recalling that climate change and loss of biodiversity also threatens global peace and stability.

Global action needed

A partial replica of the Earth during the IUCN congress in Marseille, in the south of France, on September 3, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

France has already acted in four crucial areas: preserving the soil, avoiding the use of pesticides, working to restore ecosystems, and preserving the forest and protecting the oceans.

The European Union’s strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific released this month aims to tackle the global agenda by forging specific cooperation initiatives in support of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

With its European partners, the future French presidency of the EU (January to June) will develop ambitious climate and biodiversity policies and long-term decarbonization strategies.

In South-East Asia, France has been a partner of entities in the field of the environment and research, and has supported decarbonization initiatives.

As a development partner of Asean since last year, France has put action in favor of the climate and biodiversity at the forefront.

In Vietnam and Indonesia, for example, France has set up several research projects with the French Development Agency, the Center for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development and the Research Institute for Development to achieve objectives such as reforestation and reduction of pollution by microplastics.

In Singapore, a joint collaboration between the Technological University of Nanyang and the French Commissariat for Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy was launched in 2018 to focus on the recycling of waste and the recovery of materials from electronic and plastic waste. and food.

Following the recent launch of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, which outlined Singapore’s goal of phasing out gasoline engines for cars, global French energy companies such as TotalEnergies, Engie and EDF have actively partnered with local businesses. to create more accessible charging points for electric vehicles. around Singapore.

Such collaborations with the energy production company Tuas Power and the transport company ComfortDelGro will enable France and Singapore to develop electric vehicle charging facilities and to provide innovative technologies and solutions to customers, leading to a smarter, greener and faster charging of electric vehicles around the island.

A history of cooperation

Indeed, cooperation between France, Singapore and the region to preserve biodiversity began 200 years ago.

When Sir Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore in 1819, he was accompanied by two French naturalists, Pierre-Médard Diard and Alfred Duvaucel, who took part in the island’s first natural history expeditions.

The drawings they commissioned to document the flora and fauna of Singapore and the region are distinguished by their scientific value.

These will be published in a book later this year, thanks to a successful collaboration between the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle in Paris, the National Library Board in Singapore and the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum in Singapore.

I firmly believe that France, the EU, Singapore and ASEAN will continue to strengthen their collaborations for the conservation of nature for generations to come.

  • Mr. Marc Abensour is French Ambassador to Singapore.


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