To mark MOTHER EARTH DAY 2020, we join the impassioned plea of Libby Rogerson IBVM:
In the context of “educating ourselves on different issues and recognizing the impact of climate issues” Cecilia O’Dwyer IBVM, the CEO of the IBVM/CJ UN office, invited UN representatives to provide the office with information for advocacy. We were asked to choose two or three issues from a list of topics associated with Climate Change and write a response, from the perspective of our countries, in the form of a recommendation to the UN or to Member States:
I call on the Member States of the UN to recognise the interconnectedness of climate, biodiversity and the positive future of the planet. From the perspective of Australia, a prolonged period of drought, particularly in Eastern Australia, lasting anything from 1-7 years had a serious impact on biodiversity – there were repeated mass fish kills in over-heated and low water rivers, migratory birds did not appear in their usual nesting places and there was a rapid decline in water and estuary birdlife. Native animals were forced to move from their natural habitats and many did not breed. Frogs disappeared, there were fewer pollinators and the impact on food crops, orchards and animal breeding was enormous. Coral bleaching in Barrier Reef is destroying one of the world’s greatest coral reefs.
This drought was the preamble to the worst and most destructive fire season in the world’s history – 18 million hectares burnt, a billion animals lost, not to mention hundreds of millions of bats, insects and frogs, 33 lives and thousands of homes. Australia is one of the few mega diverse countries in the world, with 70% of the world’s biodiversity and conservatively has a quarter of a million species. Loss of species due to climate change, habitat destruction and farming practices were already threatening many unique species but post the fires some of our most iconic animals, such as the koala, are in danger of extinction.
If all the Member States do not take seriously their commitment to the Paris Agreement, if the wealthier nations do not support developing countries in their efforts to work against climate change and if research and data collection is not a priority then we give our children and grandchildren a very grim future.
I call on the United Nations to increase its efforts to bring industrialists and farmers together to discuss, plan and take action on that most fundamental of human needs – water. Last year Australia, the driest continent on the planet, saw a prolonged drought morph into the worst bushfire season in the world’s history. In December 2019 water storage levels across Australia had fallen to 48%, crops were failing and animals were being sold off. There were regional towns, for the first time in their existence, running out of drinking water. The lack of water caused rivers and lakes to dry up, massive fish kills occurred, frogs, aquatic animals and insects disappeared and serious tensions emerged between irrigators and non-irrigators, upstream towns and downstream towns and between States. Competition between industry and agriculture is unresolved. Water continues to be a serious and divisive issue.
The lack of water has had an enormous impact on agricultural practices as dry land farming declines, crops requiring irrigation have their water allocations reduced and smaller industries, such as the wine and horticultural industries have to make important changes in what they grow and where they grow it.
But lack of water, due to climate change, is a global issue, as we have seen in many countries, and it is imperative that the UN, as well as bringing industrialists and farmers together, continue its efforts to bring nations around the table to reduce emissions and support the SDGs.
Libby Rogerson ibvm
Province UN Representative and member of the Loreto Justice Network
To find out more about the Province’s commitment to climate justice, please explore our online resources.
To find out more about Mary Ward involvement at the United Nations, please access their social media platforms and climate justice resources here.
Mary Ward International Australia supports sustainability projects in Kenya, read more on pages 12 & 13 of SUSTAIN