STAR ALLIANCE 10TH ANNIVERSARY
Remarks by Dr Peter Bridgewater, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen - this is an extremely important and significant occasion for the three partners on the " biosphere " side of the Biosphere connections initiative. It is an occasion where we are joining with the power of Star Alliance Network to build connections between places and people of the biosphere.
The three organizations from the biosphere side, UNESCO-MAB, IUCN and the Ramsar Convention already work together in various ways - but we are all conscious that we need to emphaise the need for connections in the biosphere.
Within the biosphere there are millions of connections every day: between species, flows of energy, flows of water, flows of nutrients. Our species, alas, is expert at breaking those connections - but luckily also expert at making them - as we know Star Alliance and its component airlines makes millions of connections every day ..
This new partnership between us all will build innovative areas of cooperation - more particularly it will make available widely information about our work, our aspirations, our challenges and our opportunities to the millions who daily connect with star alliance members.
Just a little word about each of us three from the biosphere side, because we are separate and different, even though we work together on various projects.
UNESCO-MAB is at once an old programme from the late 1960's and a visionary new programme for the current century. If may be permitted a personal note, I had the honour of serving as Director of the programme between 1999 and 2003. In recent years Governments have proposed and added many new Biosphere Reserves - important areas of the planet where people and nature co-exist, with core areas dedicated to the conservation of nature, and outer zones with greater interaction among people and nature. They are also places dedicated to linking science, nature and people. As of today there are 507 such reserves, in 120 countries.
The IUCN, also known as the World Conservation Union, has existed for almost 60 years: connecting people and organizations from different sectors for dialogue, science and action on sustainable development. Biosphere connections will help IUCN increase the awareness of these important natural areas, and bring together governments, Non-Governmental Organisations, public sector companies and independent scientists from around the world to develop wise futures for nature and people.
And the Ramsar Convention, also an old hand, deals with the wise use and conservation of the wetlands of the world - supporting member countries develop plans and actions to safeguard these wet but charismatic places which help us protect, purify and produce much of the world's fresh water. And, at the same time, provide permanent home for many species, and temporary homes, or vast open-air restaurants, for millions of migratory birds, some of which give Star Alliance a run for non-stop flights in terms of route miles!! At its heart the convention has a list, as of today, of 1670 wetland sites of international Importance, covering over 151 million hectares.
let me also note that it is good we are guests of SAS, as one of Scandinavia's most distinguished natural Scientists, Carl Linneaus, would have celebrated his 300th birthday next wednesday. His pioneers work in describing species led the way to our understanding the biosphere much better.
Stars usually are taken as signs of change and propitious events - I am sure today's launch by Star Alliance will work in the same way. This partnership will certainly benefit the special places for people and nature on the planet, by building and reinforcing better connections in the biosphere .
The way the world connects, in fact!
And now I invite Jan Albrecht to join me in a signing ceremony to set the seal on this agreement