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Biodiversity summit opens in southern France

by DANIEL COLE, SYLVIE CORBET AND CHRISTINA LARSON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | September 4, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Palais du Pharo, as part of a three day visit in Marseille, Southern France, Thursday Sept. 2, 2021. (Guillaume Horcajuelo / Pool photo via AP)

MARSEILLE, France -- French President Emmanuel Macron opened a global summit on biodiversity Friday, saying the world needs to act promptly and decisively to safeguard the Earth's natural resources.

"There is no vaccine for a sick planet," he warned.

In remarks at the World Conservation Congress in the southern city of Marseille, on France's Mediterranean coast, Macron also promised an EU-wide initiative to curb pesticide overuse, which damages ecosystems. He called for better protection of the high seas, which largely don't fall under any national jurisdiction but are threatened by overfishing and other human activities.

Macron urged world leaders and institutions to safeguard biodiversity as they work to curb climate change and support human welfare. "We must reinvent our trade policies so that they are coherent with our climate and biodiversity policies," he said.

The conference, held every four years, focuses on urgent action needed to protect wildlife. Thousands of people are set to attend the event, both in person and virtually, amid the covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to reporters, Macron announced the creation of a new global event meant to protect the high seas -- which cover about half the planet's surface. The One Ocean Summit will be organized in France in the coming months in coordination with the United Nations, he said.

"When we talk about oceans, 60% of these areas do not fall under a (national) jurisdiction," Macron stressed.

The summit will aim at creating an international ocean law, he said. "Because otherwise, some nations do whatever they want in the high seas and may destroy biodiversity and at the same time may also make choices which, from a geopolitical point of view, are bad."

Macron and other conference participants, including European Council President Charles Michel, took a boat to Calanques National Park, a marine reserve near Marseille known for its blue waters topped by high white cliffs.

Macron said he wants to extend the French parts of the Mediterranean Sea under "very high protection," which implies a ban on fishing. They now represent a very small area.

"We see that when we protect well, we succeed in regenerating species, regenerating biodiversity," Macron said after the trip to the reserve, which is home to dolphins, fin whales, turtles and a variety of fish. Its coastal area also includes 1,600 plant species and 25 protected bird species.

Macron wants to follow the path started at the One Planet Summit in January, which led 70 countries to commit to protecting at least 30% of the world's land and oceans over the next decade to halt species extinction and combat climate change.

The conference runs through Sept. 11. Topics include links between climate change and biodiversity loss, and the ethics of genetic enhancement to increase species' chances of survival.

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi walk before a dinner Thursday Sept. 2, 2021, as part of his three-day visit in Marseille, southern France. (Ludovic Marin, Pool photo via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi walk before a dinner Thursday Sept. 2, 2021, as part of his three-day visit in Marseille, southern France. (Ludovic Marin, Pool photo via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron arrives to board on the 7th Continent expedition sailing ship to go admire the Calanques National Park, a marine reserve known for its azure blue waters overhung by high white cliffs, near Marseille, southern France, Friday Sept. 3, 2021. Macron is expected to urge the world to better protect biodiversity as key to fight climate change and support human welfare at a global summit starting Friday in southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, pool)
French President Emmanuel Macron arrives to board on the 7th Continent expedition sailing ship to go admire the Calanques National Park, a marine reserve known for its azure blue waters overhung by high white cliffs, near Marseille, southern France, Friday Sept. 3, 2021. Macron is expected to urge the world to better protect biodiversity as key to fight climate change and support human welfare at a global summit starting Friday in southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, pool)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, French chef Gerald Passedat, left, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi meet before a dinner at the restaurant "Le Petit Nice" in Marseille, southern France, Thursday Sept. 2, 2021. (Ludovic Marin, Pool photo via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, French chef Gerald Passedat, left, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi meet before a dinner at the restaurant "Le Petit Nice" in Marseille, southern France, Thursday Sept. 2, 2021. (Ludovic Marin, Pool photo via AP)
European Council President Charles Michel arrives with French President Emmanuel Macron to board on the 7th Continent expedition sailing ship to go admire the Calanques National Park, a marine reserve known for its azure blue waters overhung by high white cliffs, near Marseille, southern France, Friday Sept. 3, 2021. Macron is expected to urge the world to better protect biodiversity as key to fight climate change and support human welfare at a global summit starting Friday in southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, pool)
European Council President Charles Michel arrives with French President Emmanuel Macron to board on the 7th Continent expedition sailing ship to go admire the Calanques National Park, a marine reserve known for its azure blue waters overhung by high white cliffs, near Marseille, southern France, Friday Sept. 3, 2021. Macron is expected to urge the world to better protect biodiversity as key to fight climate change and support human welfare at a global summit starting Friday in southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, pool)
French President Emmanuel Macron, with French Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili, looks on the 7th Continent expedition sailing ship to go admire the Calanques National Park, a marine reserve known for its azure blue waters overhung by high white cliffs, near Marseille, southern France, Friday Sept. 3, 2021. Macron is expected to urge the world to better protect biodiversity as key to fight climate change and support human welfare at a global summit starting Friday in southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, pool)
French President Emmanuel Macron, with French Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili, looks on the 7th Continent expedition sailing ship to go admire the Calanques National Park, a marine reserve known for its azure blue waters overhung by high white cliffs, near Marseille, southern France, Friday Sept. 3, 2021. Macron is expected to urge the world to better protect biodiversity as key to fight climate change and support human welfare at a global summit starting Friday in southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, pool)
French President Emmanuel Macron climbs on board the '7th Continent' expedition sailing ship to go admire the Calanques National Park, a marine reserve known for its azure blue waters overhung by high white cliffs, near Marseille, southern France, Friday Sept. 3, 2021. Macron is expected to urge the world to better protect biodiversity as key to fight climate change and support human welfare at a global summit starting Friday in southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, pool)
French President Emmanuel Macron climbs on board the '7th Continent' expedition sailing ship to go admire the Calanques National Park, a marine reserve known for its azure blue waters overhung by high white cliffs, near Marseille, southern France, Friday Sept. 3, 2021. Macron is expected to urge the world to better protect biodiversity as key to fight climate change and support human welfare at a global summit starting Friday in southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, pool)
European Council President Charles Michel, left, listen to French President Emmanuel Macron on board of the 7th Continent expedition sailing ship to go admire the Calanques National Park, a marine reserve known for its azure blue waters overhung by high white cliffs, near Marseille, southern France, Friday Sept. 3, 2021. Macron is expected to urge the world to better protect biodiversity as key to fight climate change and support human welfare at a global summit starting Friday in southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, pool)
European Council President Charles Michel, left, listen to French President Emmanuel Macron on board of the 7th Continent expedition sailing ship to go admire the Calanques National Park, a marine reserve known for its azure blue waters overhung by high white cliffs, near Marseille, southern France, Friday Sept. 3, 2021. Macron is expected to urge the world to better protect biodiversity as key to fight climate change and support human welfare at a global summit starting Friday in southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, pool)
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, stands on board the 7th Continent expedition sailing ship to go admire the Calanques National Park, a marine reserve known for its azure blue waters overhung by high white cliffs, near Marseille, southern France, Friday Sept. 3, 2021. Macron is expected to urge the world to better protect biodiversity as key to fight climate change and support human welfare at a global summit starting Friday in southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, pool)
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, stands on board the 7th Continent expedition sailing ship to go admire the Calanques National Park, a marine reserve known for its azure blue waters overhung by high white cliffs, near Marseille, southern France, Friday Sept. 3, 2021. Macron is expected to urge the world to better protect biodiversity as key to fight climate change and support human welfare at a global summit starting Friday in southern France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, pool)

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