During her visit to Papua New Guinea, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised "the efforts that the government and people of Papua New Guinea are making to combat climate change and to protect this beautiful environment." Secretary Clinton made the remarks, November 3, at the Tubuserea Lavadai Mangrove Reforestation Project research center.
"These forests are just one piece of the extraordinary biodiversity that makes Papua New Guinea a place unlike any other in the world," said Secretary Clinton. She noted that that country is "home to the greatest marine biodiversity on the planet, thousands of kilometers of coral reefs and hundreds of animal species, including dozens that have only recently been discovered."
The mangroves have many benefits. They prevent tidal erosion. They protect coasts from storm. Their roots are an ecosystem in themselves, home to many sea creatures, and they generate oxygen and remove carbon from the atmosphere. Some say they serve as the lungs of the earth.
"Because they play several roles, the loss of mangroves and other tropical forests has broad and dangerous consequences not only for Papua New Guinea, but for the entire world," Secretary Clinton warned. "Deforestation of the world's coastal and interior forests accounts for between 15 and 20 percent of all the carbon emissions that are part of global warming." The solution, she noted, was clear: "if we can protect our forests, if we can prohibit illegal logging, we can make significant progress in protecting this island nation and others from the effect of climate change."
Secretary Clinton said the United States made a commitment at Copenhagen to work with others to combat climate change. "As part of our commitment, the United States has pledged to reduce our own carbon footprint and we want to help countries like Papua New Guinea to be able to adapt to climate change and to prevent its effects." She said the U.S. is already working through the Coral Triangle Initiative to protect marine biodiversity and improve Papua New Guinea's capacity to manage coastal areas. The U.S. Government is promoting innovations in the country's agriculture and has asked the U.S. Congress to approve more than $100 million in climate-related funding to small island development states, of which $20 million will be targeted specifically for Pacific island nations, including Papua New Guinea.
In protecting its unique environment Papua New Guinea will find a partner in the United States.