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Welcoming address to the workshop

by Dr. Gerald Thalheim

Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture

Given on the occasion of the International Workshop “Invasive Alien Species and the IPPC” at the Forum of the Federal Agricultural Research Centre (FAL) in Braunschweig on Monday, 22 September 2003.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our lives and well-being are based on plant growth and cultivation, plant products, the availability of natural resources and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Invasive alien species greatly endanger our food production, medication, renewable resources, living environment and ecosystems. This problem is aggravated by a lack of resources and coordination, plus great poverty.

Expanding global trade, tourism and climate change also increase the dangers. The impact of invasive alien species has serious implications for the economy and ecology. Hence, protective measures are needed to address this problem.

My Ministry is, therefore, delighted to open and to support this Workshop. We regard “invasive alien species” as an important topic in farming, the economy and the environment. We feel responsible if invasive alien species impair our ecosystems or the trade in plants or plant products. We also recognize that the IPPC - together with the CBD - is meeting its mandate of plant protection without any specific limitations.

More than 55 countries take part in this workshop. This highlights the global role of the issue of invasive alien species. I am delighted about the attendance of many developing countries. It is true that countries are not equally aware of the dangers posed by invasive alien species.

They differ in their priorities in control, practical experience and resources to solve the problem. However, invasive alien species are a danger in every country, ecologically and economically. Global solutions are needed to control invasive alien species.

The historical disaster of the Irish Potato Famine shows that we have to prevent the introduction of crop pests and take precautionary measures. We face a difficult task, indeed: the recent spread of the Western corn rootworm and the Asian longhorned beetle in Europe underlines the need for protective measures. They still have to be improved.

On a global scale, the protection of plants as a food source and as a pool of biological diversity is a key element of our policy. We aim at sustainability and economic and social fairness at national, regional and global level.

Good coordination and cooperation of all actors is essential to control invasive alien species or quarantine pests effectively. This process is currently underway in Germany. Based on the recent IPPC work on invasive alien species, we are defining our role in a national strategy as part of the action against invasive alien species.

Your Workshop applies the guiding principles by promoting capacity-building programmes to prevent and control invasive alien species in countries needing know-how and resources. You can support these countries in assessing and reducing the dangers. This will mitigate the impact of invasive alien species and help those countries to develop sustainably.

This Workshop unites experts of farming, forestry and biodiversity and enables a dialogue between developed and developing countries. The workshop offers all of us an excellent chance to share experience and exchange information and know-how.

I wish to encourage you to seize this chance to cooperate successfully and develop options for action.

I wish you every success and fruitful results.

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