Dozens of conservationists and representatives from government, business and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) made an enthusiastic show of support for biological diversity—and, perhaps, a well-known actor—by attending the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund’s (CEPF) 10th anniversary book launch Tuesday night in Nagoya.
The fund was established in 2000 to provide grants for nongovernmental and private sector organizations to help protect biodiversity hotspots—Earth’s most biologically rich yet threatened areas—in regions as diverse as the Mediterranean, South Africa and Nepal.
The reception debuting CEPF’s book, Investing in Life, drew more than 100 attendees, thanks in large part to a speaker lineup that included Minister of the Environment for Japan Ryu Matsumoto; France’s Secretary of State for Ecology Chantal Jouanno; and, for closing remarks, actor Harrison Ford. The event also drew a number of journalists, with a steady beat of camera shutters keeping time throughout the evening.
Kicking off the event was Conservation International (CI) Chairman and CEO Peter Seligmann. CI is one the founding donor partners for CEPF; originally, the fund was Seligmann’s idea.
“We are obviously dealing with a global biodiversity crisis, and it can be overwhelming when you think about the scale of the challenges that we all face. So every once in a while it’s good to step back and think about what has actually been achieved and accomplished, and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is worth celebrating,” Seligmann said.
As one of the six donor partners behind CEPF, the government of Japan has been a long-time supporter of biodiversity conservation. In his remarks at the reception, Minister Matsumoto reconfirmed that commitment and encouraged other nations to join the partnership.
“The CEPF is a unique partnership where international NGOs, governments and multinational institutions meet. It has also demonstrated over the past decade that biodiversity conservation is compatible with the well-being of mankind and sustainable development,” the minister said.
Minister Matsumoto noted Japan’s status as a biodiversity hotspot, and said the loss of biodiversity is a serious concern for the Japanese people. “Japan is proud to be the first nation to become partner to the CEPF from its inception, and hopes to set an example for other nations considering the CEPF.”
Immediately following Minister Matsumoto at the podium was Harrison Ford, who is vice chair of CI’s board of directors. A longtime advocate for environmental conservation, Ford spoke about the importance of immediate action to protect our natural resources.
“I see opportunities to preserve the natural world slipping away, and I want to be involved in correcting the balance between the pressure of human population and the potential benefits to humanity of a healthy biodiversity. We are the problem; we are the solution,” he said. “Nature doesn’t need people; people need nature. So we’ve got to protect this most important resource. We’ve got to recognize our opportunity, we’ve got to recognize our responsibility and we have to take action now.”
Julie Shaw is a writer and editor for CEPF. In addition to the government of Japan and CI, CEPF’s donor partners include l’Agence Française de Développement, the Global Environment Facility, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. Learn more about CEPF’s projects around the world.