Remarks of Governor David Ige as prepared
September 1, 2016 – IUCN WORLD CONSERVATION CONGRESS Opening Ceremony
Aloha! Wow, what a grand opening to start this World Conservation Congress. On behalf of the State of Hawai‘i, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Hawai‘i host committee, and the people of Hawaiʻi, and all the ancestors who preceded us, and all the generations to come, aloha and welcome to our island home.
We hope that together – as more than 9,000 representatives of over 190 communities and countries from all around the world – we can use the next ten days of this World Conservation Congress to learn, to share, and to build lasting partnerships to better protect our shared home, Island Earth.
Hawai‘i is blessed with thousands of species of plants, birds, fish, marine mammals, and other wildlife found nowhere else on the planet. With our isolation in the middle of the Pacific, species arrived slowly and evolved uniquely here in the islands.
But today, these unique species, and the ecosystems that they depend on, are in peril. And Hawai‘i is often referred to as the endangered species capital of the world.
Our Hawaiian culture is deeply rooted in our natural environment – our forests, streams and reefs. We share a personal, ancestral, and spiritual connection with our natural and cultural heritage. We have a kuleana, a responsibility, to mālama, to steward, our natural and cultural resources.
Here in Hawai‘i, the health of our natural resources is critical to our way of life, our economy and our culture. We constantly strive to develop innovative solutions to the challenges we face and we also benefit from the knowledge of our neighbors in the Pacific and around the world.
Hawaiʻi’s natural environment provides the foundation of our livelihood. So many of our business sectors, including our critically important tourism economy, rely on a healthy environment.
Yet Hawaiʻi’s natural environment faces many threats, from invasive species, wildfires, development, unsustainable fishing practices, climate change, and so much more.
We, in islands, especially know the limits of our natural environment. We see the impacts of our actions very close to home. We are a microcosm of our planet earth.
Like the Hawaiian Voyaging Canoe, we are one canoe, one island, one planet. We cannot afford to mess this up. We need to change the downward trajectory of our natural resources, in Hawaiʻi and around Island Earth.
We in Hawai‘i have established ambitious goals for sustainability, through the Aloha+ Challenge, which sets concrete measurable targets for both public and private sectors. As part of this effort, I’m proud to announce my Sustainable Hawaiʻi Initiative.
We are proud to be hosting the World Conservation Congress in Hawaiʻi because we want to listen, and to share, to forge relationships, to learn from you about your places and your strategies. We want to work with you together, to solve our collective environmental challenges. Our planet is at a crossroads, and together, we can make a difference for our Island Earth.
Mahalo and aloha.