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Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development

April 12, 2012

The Australian Government has made a commitment to provide up to $1 million to help small island and developing states, including our Pacific island neighbours, to participate in the Rio+20 Conference in June.

The Australian contribution to the Rio+20 Participation Trust Fund will help those most in need of financial assistance to participate in the conference.

The Rio+20 Conference is a significant international meeting convened to chart a path forward on sustainable development, including how the world’s oceans are to be managed sustainably.

The Rio+20 Conference will also deal with many other important issues, including sustainable livelihoods, food security and disaster risk reduction.

Small island developing states live most directly with the disastrous reality of climate change.

Now they are facing an additional threat from ocean acidification.

In my first speech to the Senate in March, I spoke of the looming risk posed by increasing acidification of the world’s oceans as they are burdened by higher concentrations of carbon.

Just as the first evidence of climate change began emerging almost 30 years ago, the degradation of the oceans, caused by higher concentrations of carbon, is now upon us.

Many of the nations most affected by climate change will also be amongst the first to feel the impact of ocean acidification.

Declining ocean water quality is already killing fish, other marine species and marine vegetation.

The world’s population depends on fish as a source of protein and acidification of the oceans is a grave threat to fish stocks.

It is therefore crucial that the countries with so much at stake at this meeting should be able to have their voices heard.

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