Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. I am sorry to have missed the opening on Monday but so pleased to be able to join now.
I understand you have had two sessions of rich discussion and presentations. The work you all do is inspiring and so important. Our collective efforts are critical to protecting coral reefs in the face of ever-increasing threats.
The United States is committed to addressing the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, with all the tools, assets, and commitment we can assemble.
With the recent United Nations Climate Change COP26 in Glasgow fresh in our minds, we need to use that momentum to accelerate progress toward our goals.
All nations left Glasgow with greater resolve than ever before toward ending the climate crisis.
Countries decided on steps to continue strengthening ambition through this decisive decade to secure a healthier planet for all.
We know COP26 was not the finish line. It was the catalyst for the sprint to 2030.
A lot more work remains to get where science tells us we need to be.
Protecting our ocean, our precious reefs, and the life – and the livelihoods – they support is a cause I’m proud to work on with all of you.
In the United States, we are working hard to implement President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative – a directive to conserve at least 30 percent of our land and waters by 2030. And we fully support conserving or protecting at least 30 percent of the global ocean by 2030.
Marine protected areas will be an important part of our efforts. MPAs are critical management tools to conserve biodiversity, safeguard the health of marine ecosystems and tackle the climate crisis.
Along these lines, I want to also mention the Kiribati Phoenix Islands Protected Area, also known as PIPA. It has been on our minds and in the media the last few weeks. Kiribati has been seen as a leader in creating this environmentally significant – UNESCO recognized – protection area.
While I haven’t had the privilege of seeing it myself (yet!), members of my team have, and they speak about the place with wonder and reverence. Giant fish crowd the reef. Corals show surprising and incredibly important resilience to climate events.
We have a long-standing relationship to PIPA, including arrangements between PIPA and the S. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and the U.S. Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
And if it remains protected, we would like to deepen that relationship.
Thank you again for your dedication, commitment, and persistence. I look forward to seeing your contributions to the proposed Plan of Action.
There is so much to be done. And the urgency is clear. So, let’s get to work! And I look forward to seeing you all in person in 2022!