The Summit on Biodiversity
Video statement by H.E. Mark Rutte,
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands,
NEW YORK, 30 September 2020
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me take you to the Markermeer, near Amsterdam.
It used to be a wild inland sea.
But now it’s a tranquil lake that provides drinking water and, with its dykes, protects us from floods.
Today, this lake is also home to one of Europe’s largest nature restoration projects: the Marker Wadden Islands, a unique group of artificial islands we started building four years ago.
The aim was to create a rich habitat for all kinds of birds, fish and plants.
And it’s working: in no time at all, many rare species have made themselves at home on these brand-new islands.
A few thousand kilometres to the west, in the Caribbean part of our Kingdom, the conditions are different, but the challenge is similar.
There, we are working to protect the magnificent coral reefs, which are so vital to biodiversity.
Together with conservation groups and businesses, we’re investing in ways to make the coral healthier and less vulnerable.
That’s good for the local economy as well as nature.
These examples show that we can turn biodiversity loss around, and help habitats recover.
COVID-19 has made clear how urgent this task is.
We have some catching up to do.
And that means putting our money where our mouths are.
Over the next ten years, the Netherlands will be investing five billion euros in the natural environment.
And we’ll be working hard to make agriculture – a major sector in our country – more sustainable.
After decades of putting productivity first, we’re now using our expertise to transition to circular agriculture.
Making the sector economically and ecologically sustainable for the future.
The financial sector can contribute too.
It can serve as a force for positive change in biodiversity, just as it can help tackle the effects of climate change.
In the Netherlands, this sector is developing ways to measure the impact of investment in biodiversity.
And our supervisory authority is charting the financial risks associated with the loss of nature.
It’s a first step towards steering financial flows in an eco-friendly direction.
At the same time, it’s important that countries continue working together to promote nature-related financial disclosure.
That benefits business and biodiversity.
All this underlines my message today: it’s time for action.
We can bend the curve, but we can only do it together: farmers, conservationists, scientists, governments, businesses and – crucially – young people.
Together we need to translate our ambitions into action: at both national and international level.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s the task we face, both before and after the Kunming conference: implement and deliver.
We can’t let the Global Biodiversity Framework simply be a paper tiger.
That’s one species we do want to die out!