Esteemed members of the Malaysia Nature Society Council,
Excellencies Ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic corps in Malaysia
Tan Sri, Puan Sri,
Dato Dato, Datin Datin,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to be here today, and I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to the Malaysian Nature Society for inviting the United Nations to join this important commemoration.
I also take this opportunity to convey to you, former UN Resident Coordinator in Malaysia Stefan Priesner’s greetings and congratulations from Tehran.
He was humbled by the opportunity to contribute a few words to your impressive publication’s foreword. I am particularly happy to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Malaysian Nature Society’s with you today.
There can be few other Malaysian NGOs that have such a long and varied history, from its birth in colonial times, to celebrating the independence of Malaysia and its coming of age as a vibrant modern nation.
Happy birthday and long may MNS continue to contribute to the protection of the abundant wildlife in this beautiful country.
This is especially important, as environmentally, we live in very troubled times. The environment, both globally and locally, is coming under extreme stress.
This is not merely due to climate change, but crucially also, general degradation and pollution are accelerating biodiversity loss.
Taken together, these are often referred to as the triple planetary crisis, and I underline that climate and environment concerns are fundamentally entwinned.
I want to recognize and commend the work MNS is undertaking to address these challenges in Malaysia – through campaigns, education and via the use of new technologies.
Indeed, these on-the-ground efforts by NGOs and the work of thousands of volunteers throughout the world, are essential for whole of society actions to deliver lasting environmental change.
For today’s special event, as the representative of the UN Secretary-General in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, I wanted to make clear that organizations like MNS, the world over, are not alone, and that the UN stands with you and is working at the global political level to deliver real change.
Specifically, I wanted to report on three breakthrough developments which have taken place in the past 12 months alone, complementing, and strengthening ongoing efforts to protect the environment and deliver on the Paris Agreement.
The first is the United Nations Environment Assembly Resolution, ‘End Plastic Pollution: Towards a legally binding instrument’, adopted on 2 March 2022.
This resolution provides a strong message of hope that we can indeed protect the marine environment and eliminate, via multi-pronged approach and international cooperation, the scourge of plastic pollution, something which also blights Malaysia.
The second is the United Nations General Assembly’s historic unanimous vote to affirm that a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a human right for all.
The resolution, passed on 28 July 2022, has been a long time coming, as the process began with the 1972 Stockholm Declaration.
This is an important step in countering the alarming decline of the natural world, and it provides environmental campaigners more ammunition to challenge ecologically destructive policies and projects.
Third, just last week, and following the adoption of the Global Biodiversity Framework in Montreal in December 2022, an agreement was reached by delegates of the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.
Often referred to as the ‘High Seas Treaty’, this legal framework is the culmination of UN-facilitated talks that began twenty years ago. It ensures sizeable investment in marine conservation and governs access to and use of marine genetic resources.
The environment – protecting biodiversity and an estimated 1 million species threatened with extinction, ending the existential threat of climate change, halting land degradation – are all at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and absolutely central to the SDGs.
There are major direct and indirect links to other development objectives – including building food security and better nutritional outcomes, supporting advances in human health, and securing livelihoods, particularly for vulnerable populations via nature-positive investments to deliver green and inclusive growth.
There is a unique value in the global coming together with the local, and of the UN and Governments coming together with national NGOs and peoples, to work in tandem, to deliver ambitious and transformative changes.
These collective and joined-up efforts are vital, and the achievements of MNS, over the past 83 years, are a clear testimony of Malaysia’s firm commitment to live in harmony with nature and deliver a sustainable planet for future generations.