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Inauguration of the “Wild and Precious” exhibition on the occasion of World Wildlife Day (en)04.03.2014
Genf, 03.03.2014 - Rede von Bundespräsident Didier Burkhalter - Es gilt das gesprochene Wort
President of the General Assembly
Acting Head of the United Nations Office at Geneva
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to Geneva. Switzerland is proud to host the CITES Secretariat and it is an honour for us that the authors of the Convention chose our country as depositary state. It is a privilege to be involved with the organisation of this first commemoration of World Wildlife Day.
Headquartered in Geneva, the CITES Secretariat benefits from the proximity of a multitude of international organisations, UN agencies, first class academic institutions and an engaged civil society. The activities of all these actors are essential for making the most of potential synergies in sustainable development.
I can but confirm Switzerland’s increased commitment to maintaining the Lake Geneva region’s assets for the international community in a lasting manner.
Wildlife is increasingly threatened. The extinction of some species is natural, but it has taken on alarming proportions. We are the first generation on earth that can name the species which have become extinct in our lifetimes. Every year, more types of flora and fauna disappear and thousands of species are threatened with imminent extinction.
Biodiversity is at the core of the earth’s life support systems. Sustainable, wise management of the earth’s riches is crucial for poverty eradication, ensuring global food security and human health, and creating sustainable livelihoods and decent work.
Concern for wildlife, and sustainable use of wildlife, can make a difference to poor and vulnerable groups, which are often disproportionately affected by the consequences of unsustainable management of natural resources. The CITES – in conjunction with other international instruments – strikes a balance between the three dimensions of sustainable development and thus has the potential to make a difference to people’s livelihoods.
However, we must not let these efforts be frustrated by unlawful activities. Poaching and its potential ties to other criminal activities and even terrorism is a grave menace to sustainable peace and security. The growing links between poaching, weapons proliferation and regional insecurity are worrying.
Human rights and fundamental freedoms are essential for equitable and sustainable development.
I agree with the United Nations Independent Expert on human rights and the environment, John Knox, in stressing that human rights are vulnerable to environmental degradation, in that the full enjoyment of all human rights depends on a supportive environment. It is therefore important that we recognise the strong links between the activities of the Human Rights Council and your laudable efforts to overcome the current extinction crisis.
The challenge that the international community faces cannot be overcome unless all countries, developed and developing alike, cooperate and commit to action.
Governments will need to lead, but a truly effective global partnership will have to enlist all of society as active partners. In the knowledge that Switzerland has an important business sector that relies on the earth’s resources I count on the business community to join forces in decisive action.
When I contemplate the beautiful images to be unveiled in a few minutes, it really brings home the need to recognise the living value of species, which goes far beyond their value as a commodity.
Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten
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