Minister Ley Speech at COP-15 CBD - Knowledge, innovation and benefit sharing

14 October 2021

Thank you to the Honourable Co-Chairs for convening this High-Level Segment as part of the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Today’s Roundtable on knowledge, innovation and benefit sharing is an important opportunity for us all as we witness the impact of extreme weather events on our environment and its biodiversity.

2021 has been a reminder of the challenges to biodiversity from extreme weather events. In Australia nearly two years ago, almost 8 million hectares were burnt in what we refer to as the Black Summer Bushfires. 

While the impacts of these fires were devastating, we do, however, continue to establish important learnings for recovery and for adapting to future threats. Some of those learnings have already been shared with Greece in the aftermath of their recent fires this year.

The Australian Government responded quickly to the impact of the bushfires with a $200 million commitment to support the recovery of native wildlife and habitat.

The speed and scale of this response has proven vital.

Partnerships we established with scientists, researchers, Indigenous peoples and community groups balanced the best available science, with Indigenous ecological knowledge and with local insight.

As a result of these targeted collaborations, we are seeing a steady, albeit an ongoing recovery, through a diverse range of innovative approaches.

They include the use of eDNA technology to help identify where iconic platypus communities had been able to survive when people had feared the worst, the use of drone technology to support the reseeding of koala habitat, the expansion of seed banks and the genetic stores of native plants to protect future regeneration, and the establishment or expansion of 17 captive breeding and insurance population programs with zoos. 

Our bushfire response brought into focus the knowledge and expertise that Traditional Owners bring to land management, like knowing how to best use fire to protect some areas and how to help other areas regenerate through cool burns that enhance the landscape and remove weeds.

Australia has the largest network of Indigenous Protected areas in the world and we are in the process of expanding that network by another 3.7 million hectares.

The growing partnership between Traditional Owners and modern environmental science is at the centre of restoring and protecting biodiversity.

Indigenous knowledge systems have formed and shaped Australia's environment and despite the dramatic changes of modern times, that knowledge and the hands-on role of Traditional Owners in biodiversity management is invaluable. 

Collaborations between indigenous rangers, environmental scientists, and technology companies are using artificial intelligence to map vast tracts of land for wildlife, identify invasive weeds and pests, and protect turtle nesting sites. 

As Australia invests in a new phase of our National Environmental Science Program, one that establishes biodiversity as a national priority, our focus is on partnerships, on working together to protect and enhance biodiversity and I look forward to working with you all as COP 15 progresses.

I am confident that, together, we can deliver an ambitious new global biodiversity framework that enables everyone to benefit from the sharing of knowledge, innovation and technology. This will help put nature on the path to recovery and safeguard our irreplaceable biodiversity for generations to come.