Good morning, Mr. Emilio Sempris, Minister of Environment of Panama; Mr. Feliciano Jiménez, Vice Minister of Indigenous Affairs of Panama; Mrs. Gabriela Lara, general director of the Embassy of Activists for Peace; Ms. Mariam Wallet, president of the Permanent Forum of the United Nations for Indigenous Peoples; gentlemen, ladies; ambassadors; representatives of governments, organizations, academics, private sector, civil society, esteemed participants of this CUMIPAZ. Very good morning to all.
It is an honor to accompany you at the beginning of this Summit and to feel the joy and enthusiasm of all of you who have come from diverse places in our region and the world to reflect and discuss issues that are central to our present and our future, as part of this wonderful planet. It is the first time that UN Environment has the opportunity to participate in this meeting. Already our congratulations, Mrs. Lara, to you and all the GEAP team of collaborators for the excellent call and ability to coordinate an activity of this nature.
This Summit is a celebration of the diversity of our peoples and a great demonstration of the will to meet and rediscover ourselves as part of nature, and as committed and dedicated people to the welfare and good living of our peoples.
I was very touched today by the opening message of Mr. William Soto Santiago, executive president and ambassador of the Global Embassy of the GEAP, because it was an appeal to our souls, to the heart, it was a sign of love for humanity, love for the environment, the love for biodiversity; and it was an appeal to all of us to work for the good living of nature and of all humanity.
You know that our region has a bad reputation (I say "bad") because our region is the highest level of assassinations of defenders of the Earth, of environmental defenders, of defenders of biodiversity and nature. And these people who give their lives for the love of the planet, for giving us hope for the future, we have to do something, we have to support them, we have to make all peoples aware; we have to work with them, we have to support them, because the planet is our future.
So we have to re-dynamize our efforts for the protection of our planet, and many of those advocates are from indigenous peoples if they do not know it. A message from the heart.
UN Environment is the environmental voice of the United Nations. Our mandate is to work for the protection of the environment for the benefit of truly sustainable development; that is, the one that combines economic growth, social and civic equity of our Earth, our common home.
This vision of sustainable development, which is the commitment of the entire international community embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (adopted in 2015), places the emphasis on overcoming inequalities: not leaving anyone behind.
This means that we are all protagonists, that we have to pay attention to those who face situations of greater vulnerability and that we must work together as links in the same chain in order to achieve common goals, to achieve a life in harmony with nature, at peace with our surroundings.
And among the peoples of the world, the dominant patterns of production and consumption of modern life must change, and they must change urgently; because we have seen in a few decades how environmental problems derived from the way we produce and consume seriously impact our environment and seriously compromise our future and that of the Earth we inhabit. We talk about the loss of biodiversity, we talk about climate change, the pollution of our soil, air, and sea, all kinds of waste that we generate.
These environmental problems, sometimes due to the language we use, seem a little distant to our everyday life and that of our families and friends, but they actually directly affect us all, especially those who depend more on natural resources for their livelihoods, life and the populations that have more difficulties adapting to the changes.
That is why, together, we must seek and implement the best solutions to reverse the damage we are causing as a result of our unsustainable lifestyle.
This implies changes in our daily life to public policies that must be designed and implemented at political levels. For this, everyone’s access to information and participation is essential. That is why we ask all of you: to raise our voices loudly and commit ourselves to a world free of contamination.
This is precisely the central theme of the next United Nations Assembly for the Environment, within the United Nations at the headquarters of the UN Environment in Nairobi, Kenya. In less than two months the international community, including presidents, environment ministers, mayors, representatives of the main groups of society, will meet to determine the efforts we can make to move towards a pollution-free world; that is, a healthier world for us and our children, where it is possible to live in peace and well-being.
The Assembly will meet from December 4 to 6. In the previous days, we will have a global forum of representatives of the main groups, in which we hope that the Latin American and Caribbean region will actively participate based on the process that has been opened since a regional consultation meeting was held. in June of this year in Punta Arenas, Costa Rica, and in which we have the participation of the GEAP.
I encourage you to continue participating in these areas of UN Environment work with society, I encourage you to contribute to the message that the region will bring to the Assembly, and, above all, I encourage you to be protagonists of the Assembly through your personal commitment towards a world free of pollution.
To express these commitments, the Assembly has a public access platform. Two months before the Assembly, there are already more than 400,000 registered commitments, including citizens at a personal level, organizations, communities, governments, who are willing to assume responsibilities and continue the great change we are needing through concrete and measurable actions.
In our region, important steps are being taken at all levels, both governmental and non-governmental, including the private sector. Consider, for example, the growing number of cities and countries that are restricting the use of plastic bags. Congratulations, Minister, for the effort in Panama of the law of one-use plastic bags [Law 492 *]. It is a very important step.
The evidence of pollution in our seas is overwhelming, as a result of the plastics that we dump in them; it is very serious and it is something we can act on now; that is why UN Environment leads the "Clean Seas" campaign.
There is still a lot to do, and now is the time to act. I wish you the best success in this Summit that you are holding and your reasons to actively engage with a world free of contamination.
Thank you very much.