Intervention by the Permanent Representative of the Argentine Republic, Amb. Martín García Moritán
Good morning friends and colleagues, Mrs. Kristine McDivitt Tompkins:
It is an honor and a privilege for my country to co-organize together with the Permanent Mission of Chile and UNEP the appointment of Mrs Kristine McDivitt Tompkins as UN Patron on Protected Areas. The contribution that Mrs Kristine McDivitt Tompkins and her husband, Douglas Tompkins, have done to improve and maintain the sustainability of the habitat in our region is paramount.
Mrs Tompkins has been a pioneer in her advocacy and contributions towards environmental conservation and mitigation of climate change. 25 years ago, when climate change issues weren’t still trending issues as they are today, Kristine and Douglas started their conservation mission. It is hard to find people who have such a calling for working selflessly and Kristine is one example, shown by the decision of donating lands to be transformed in National Parks so that everyone can experience and enjoy them.
The legacy that the Tompkins will leave us is groundbreaking in many areas: the achievements regarding saving biodiversity by rewilding landscapes, park creation, restoration, ecological agriculture and supporting grass root activism through rising awareness have allowed immense transformations.
Let me show her contribution with some figures:
Adding up all the protected areas in which the Tompkins Conservation have worked in Argentina and Chile, they add up to 13 National parks; I want to highlight that through their initiative 5 new National parks were already created and one have expanded.
These lands include the parks of Monte León National Park and El Rincón/ Perito Moreno National Park expansion in Santa Cruz; the future National Park of Iberá in Corrientes; El Impenetrable National Park in Chaco and El Piñalito Provincial Park in Misiones. As you know and see in the map it’s a big country.
Through the rewilding, the Conservation Land Trust has reintroduced mammals that had been extirpated such as the giant anteater and the pampas deer to name some.
Let me add that Mrs Tompkins actually united Argentinians and Chileans even more, if that were possible, given that due to the lands donated to our countries, we were driven to developing joint national parks. Since 2016 we have been coordinating on this area and this was reflected in the official statement issued after President Piñera’s visit to Argentina, last April when both Presidents highlighted the progress done in the identification of the first joint National Park, reaffirming the mutual interest in protecting and conserving the natural wealth of both countries. Our Presidents requested both Ministers of Foreign Affairs to identify, within the Specialized Parks Committee, concrete initiatives in this regards.
Mrs. Tompkins continues being a pioneer by helping Argentina to move forward in new endeavors such as the development of marine conservation areas approved by Law in June 2016. Mrs Tompkins activism was important to encourage this initiative and her experience is helping in the implementation.
After the sudden loss of her husband Douglas in 2015, she managed to find strength to accelerate the joint conservation project that they had created together, and she continued the conservation work alongside the team they had built together during the past two decades.
Even though Mrs Tompkins isn’t Argentinian by birth, she and her husband have done so much for my country that they could be considered Argentinian by heart.
Mrs Tompkins let me say that this is a small way to pay tribute to your work, efforts, generosity and stamina and say Thank you. You and your husband have protected more land than any individual in history. The results of your efforts will accompany us and the future generations to come.