His Excellency French Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives talks about “Sri Lanka’s Opportunity in Sustainability, with particular reference to France’s Climate Change initiatives” at BSL CEO Forum, 12th September at Ramada Colombo

Dear Mr Fernando, CEO of Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Biodiversity Sri Lanka,

Dear Members of the CEO Forum,

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

  • First of all, I would like to sincerely thank you for inviting me to the CEO Forum on Biodiversity. I am honored to contribute to this meeting because we will not win the battle for eliminating poverty without winning the battle against climate change! The whole French diplomatic network is working to this end.
  • I am just coming back from the Ambassador’s week in Paris where the French President, Emmanuel Macron, reminded us that we will have to continue our efforts to protect our planet. France has made a strong contribution to this commitment by hosting COP21 in 2015, which led to the Paris Agreement, an example of a new multilateralism, open to non-state actors and based on science. This Agreement has been as essential step, but time is running short, and our new President has urged us to take further major activities in the coming months, not only in terms of Rights but also in favor of Biodiversity.
  • France and the European Union rally together for this great cause and we have decided to devote the necessary means to achieve it. Here in Sri Lanka with the French Development Agency and its Sri Lankan partners, whose Agenda is exclusively devoted to ‘green’ projects. The EU is also working in that direction, not only here in Sri Lanka but everywhere on the planet.
  • One of the objectives of the Paris agreement was to ensure that the fight against global warming was not only a matter for states, which may vary in their commitments, but that this struggle in favor of a more sustainable development and a greater respect for nature was to be joint battle including civil societies, private sector, regions and cities. And it does work. This joint effort is at the heart of the French movie we screened on several occasions, and to different audiences in Sri Lanka. This Cesar Award winner movie whose title may well prove premonitory: Tomorrow!
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, today I would like to tell you about France’s efforts in mitigating the impact of climate change and about one particular initiative which could have relevance to Sri Lanka achieving the Sustainable Development Objectives. This is the 4 per 1000 Initiative.
  • So what is the 4 per 1000 initiative?

It has been launched by France during the COP21 in Paris, sets out to bring together all willing contributors in the public and private sectors under the framework of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda.  The aim of the Initiative is to demonstrate that agricultural soils can play a crucial role where food security and climate change are concerned. Based on robust scientific evidence, the Initiative therefore invites all partners to declare or to implement practical programmes for carbon sequestration in soil and the types of farming methods used to promote it. The goal of the Initiative is to engage stakeholders in a transition towards a productive, resilient agriculture, based on a sustainable soil management and generating jobs and incomes, hence ensuring sustainable development.

  • Every participant signing the joint declaration must state the target it has set for itself, the types of action taken, the relevant timetable and the dedicated resources.
  • A ‘4%’ annual growth rate of the soil carbon stock would make it possible to stop the present increase in atmospheric Co2. This growth rate is not a normative target for every county but is intended to show that even a small increase in the soil carbon stock (agricultural spoils, notably grasslands and pastures, and forest soils) is crucial to improve soils fertility and agricultural production and to contribute to the long-term objective of limiting the temperature increase. This initiative is intended to complement the necessary efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Today, the Initiative is supported by more than 150 signatories (countries, regions, international agencies, NGOs, private sector). I truly think that this Initiative could be an opportunity for Sri Lanka’s sustainability and of relevance to you.
  • There are many other initiatives for which Sri Lanka and France could work together. In 2018, the third international year for coral reefs will be held and this is the opportunity to highlight the fundamental role for the States that shelter these ecosystems in protecting them and achieving the Sustainable Development Objectives. This topic is particularly meaningful to France, the founder and current President of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI). ICRI aims to raise public awareness of the importance of coral reefs and their associated ecosystems (mangroves, meadows), particularly in the context of the achievement of the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
  • ICRI is one of the first initiatives of the Climate Change Initiatives Alliance, created in the wake of COP21, as part of the Ocean Climate Agenda., The Alliance is therefore fully integrated into the logic of the Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA) and responds to the priority objectives of both the Paris Agreement and the Agenda 2010 for the preservation of the oceans and its biodiversity. Other initiatives have been developed on these same themes, such as the Sustainable Island Initiative and the SIDS Initiative.
  • In 2018, as part of our FOCUS conferences, we are thinking about creating a platform for discussion on the topic of ocean protection, coral reef and mangroves, which is an urgent topic in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
  • Our FOCUS is an essential component of the scientific and cultural cooperation of the year. They are conceived as a platform to discuss and consider solutions applied in various countries and environments, in order to ensure sustainable development, promote green economy and raise awareness about how to adapt to and limit climate change effects. This year, we examine the challenges and practicable solutions applicable to the ‘Global City’. The second session of FOCUS debate about ‘Citizens’ engagement in tomorrow’s city’, the interactive seminar will take place on 15th September, at Galle Face Hotel.
  • So Ladies and Gentlemen, I urge you tonight to join hands to protect our planet and stop climate change. Let me conclude by quoting the newly elected French President, Emmanuel Macron, on this critical issue. ‘What could still be up for debate of a few years ago is now plain and obvious to everybody. If we do nothing, our children will know a world of migrations, of wars, shortages, the disappearance of archipelagoes and coastal cities. This has already begun. On climate, there is no plan B, because there is no Planet B. Make our planet great again!’