Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Report highlights that more needs to be done for conservation in the Oceania Region

A report outlining the state of conservation in Oceania was launched and discussed during Saturday's "Pacific Islands Dialogue" at the World Parks Congress in Sydney on Saturday 15 November.

The State of Conservation in Oceania Report (SOCO), commissioned by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), was launched at the start of the Pacific Islands Dialogue. SPREP's head of Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Stuart Chape, presented a synopsis of the report, which highlights the realities of the state of the natural environment in 22 Pacific island countries and territories. The assessment was undertaken at national, territorial and regional level.

The synthesis of regional level findings presents an overall picture of concern for the status of Pacific ecosystems and species.

"While the current status, pressures and threats for almost all of the indicators was assessed as fair, the major concern is that the trends are deteriorating for most indicator ecosystems and species," said Mr Chape.

As an example, 7.3% of the region's forests was lost between 1990 and 2010 and, of the almost 6,000 known species in the region, 1,774 are listed on the IUCN Red List ranging from Near Threatened to Critically Endangered, with 117 already extinct in the wild. The assessment has also identified that more work needs to be done to determine the status of 824 species which are classified as 'data deficient'.

SOCO Synthesis Front Cover web

"Fortunately, in terms of governance and the response to conservation issues, the trend is improving," said Mr Chape. At the same time, he noted that the SOCO has also identified that current implementation of legislation and key policy instruments such as National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans is poor.

Importantly, protected area coverage is also currently poor, especially in terrestrial ecosystems. An analysis of the distribution of the 2,777 mammals, birds, amphibians, marine bony fishes, cartilaginous fishes, corals, decapods, mangroves and seagrasses for which spatial data is available, indicates limited inclusion in protected areas.

The report is clear that more needs to be done to establish better conservation and management areas and systems for the region's valuable species, and this includes species that are utilised by people for livelihoods, food security and other ecosystem services.

The data that has been collected for the assessment will be used to help guide conservation and environmental management action at national and regional levels, and will establish a baseline for ongoing periodic analysis. As an ongoing process it will play a key role in guiding national policy and community level action to help achieve the Aichi Targets.

Monday, November 17, 2014

SPREP and CBD Strengthen Commitments to Biodiversity Conservation in the Pacific

15 November, 2014, Sydney, Australia - The signing of an agreement over the weekend between the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was a fitting culmination to the Pacific Islands Dialogue to prepare for Pacific input to the Promise of Sydney commitments being developed at the World Parks Congress.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations will ensure joint implementation of the Pacific region's Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific Island Region 2014-2020, and the CBD Strategic Plan for Biological Diversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

David Braulio SigningL - R Mr David Sheppard, SPREP and Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD.
 The MoU was signed during a Pacific Dialogue session at the World Parks Congress
held at the Sydney Olympic Arena in Australia.

"Effectively, this means that under-resourced Pacific island countries, which have committed to meeting the Aichi Biodiversity Targets will benefit from our joint support in developing and implementing National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans while also establishing measurable goals that align with the Aichi Targets," said Mr David Sheppard, Director General of SPREP.

"This approach is also very much in line with what we are hearing from countries – the need for improved coordination between regional and international partners and more streamlined approaches to our reporting and monitoring."

"This partnership will bridge the gap between the global and local agenda as we are committed to doing more from regional perspective to help implement the global agenda," said Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD Executive Secretary. "Specific areas of collaboration include scientific and technical cooperation, increased capacity in monitoring and financing."

Enhancing partnerships and cooperation between the European Overseas Territories and Small Island Developing States was also raised as a valuable opportunity.

Dr. Dias added that he and Mr. Sheppard "hoped to use the MOU also as a monitoring and assessment framework to help achieve the review of biodiversity strategies and action plans for all Parties, indigenous peoples and local communities, subnational governments and non-independent islands in the region, and ensure alignment of the global, regional, national and local agendas through the Aichi Biodiversity Targets".

"The recently launched Fourth Global Biodiversity Outlook suggests that we are not doing enough," he said. "We need to do monitoring if we are to know if our pledges are being implemented and effective."

SPREP and the CBD have had a close working relationship for several years. The renewed Memorandum of Agreement outlines key priority areas of work commitments between the two organisations.

French Territories leading the way - addressing ocean conservation

View from a Pacific island - image courtesy of Ian Lyons

17 November 2014, Sydney, Australia - The Pacific islands region (Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia) is renowned for its immense natural beauty. We naturally conjure up images of colourful coral reefs, majestic marine animals, white sandy beaches, swaying coconut trees, low-lying coral atolls, and mountainous volcanic islands. The Pacific Ocean covers one-third of the Earth’s surface, but is home to only seven natural World Heritage sites. What challenges are preventing more sites in the Pacific being recognised and how do we better manage these Big Ocean areas?

On Saturday 15 November, at the World Parks Congress Oceans+ Pavilion, leaders from French island territories shared their experience with the non-French Pacific in addressing the challenges they face in marine conservation. SPREP Director General, David Sheppard, and Xavier Sticker, French Ambassador for the Environment, co-chaired a series of success stories on marine sanctuaries across the Pacific, from the Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) up to the large marine protected areas recently being established by Pacific leaders.

French Polynesia is leading the way with a 5.5 million square kilometre marine sanctuary that includes 5 archipelagos and 118 islands. However there is still a need for management of these large marine protected areas.

“I think we have the biggest mammal and shark sanctuary in the region, if not in the world, said Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu, Minister for Environment and Culture, French Polynesia.“Our intention is to increase that to two more areas, which will bring the total sanctuary area to seven million square kilometres,” he said.

Referring to the need to combine efforts, he said, “So what we are trying to say is we are not small islands but large ocean countries. -If we take into account all our combined Exclusive Economic Zones, we are the biggest Ocean marine park.”

The Minister added that “One major educational project in Marquesas was initiated by the kids and we are proud of this intergenerational initiative. It shows that our children have grasped the importance of conservation, thanks to our elders.”

The French Ambassador for Environment, Xavier Sticker said, “France has a special place in the Pacific. France acts through its territories to add value to the Pacific people, where livelihoods depend on a regional approach to management of our ocean and island natural assets. France would like to act in a strong collaborative mindset across bilateral and multilateral structures to achieve this.”

The Ambassador added that France was proud to work alongside Pacific leaders in achieving their environmental aspirations. “We take every opportunity to undertake action; we are impressed with what other countries are doing in terms of conservation. We know the links with conservation, with the people, and we want to build alliance”.

The Minister for the Environment for French Polynesia echoed similar sentiments saying that, “Although in some areas they are enjoying the fruits of their labour, one issue that all Pacific communities are facing is the external pressures from global cash economies, and the capacity to participate in actions to address the multiple impacts on our environments.”

New Caledonia Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, Anthony Lecren

Mr Anthony Lecren, New Caledonia’s Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development said, “Great diversity in the Pacific and our Big Ocean assets has already inspired our leaders and communities to better network across countries, and we as islanders should start living that Big Ocean network.”

David Sheppard and Xavier Sticker both agreed that the combined talent and capacity across our French and non-French communities in the Pacific will lead to a far greater capacity for the Pacific to address common challenges in adapting to climate change, global economic drivers and management of our large oceanscapes.

The Saturday evening event ended on a high note with great hope that progress in collaborations of a new nature with the French territories of the Pacific will be imminent. A simple but extremely moving dance performance by Uuheinui Haiti, the 13 year-old youth education ambassador from the Marquesas, in French Polynesia, became an unspoken but heartfelt call to action for us all.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Proud Pacific Moments: Protecting the Tree Kangaroo - Yus Conservation - Papua New Guinea

Karau Kuna and Collegue from TKCP-PNG

Story and image by Kevin Dayonga, Member of the Pacific Emerging Environment Leaders Network at the World Parks Congress.

The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program is a community conservation area and locally-owned forest, the first of its kind in Papua New Guinea. The locally-driven initiative undertakes a range of activities to protect the watershed and provide the local population with sustainable livelihoods. The conservation area covers 78,729 hectares of habitat, protecting endemic and endangered wildlife species, including the tree kangaroo. 

The organisation has partnered with the private sector and the government on a conservation livelihoods programme and a coffee harvesting project, which has brought in more than USD 20,000.

Revenues from this programme have been invested into community health, education and conservation projects. The initiative represents a unique model of community mobilisation and leadership, and is the first time that the diverse collection of indigenous communities involved in the initiative have come together to advance a shared conservation and sustainable livelihoods agenda.

This first national conservation area was established in 2009, after more than a decade of work on the ground by The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Project (TKCP). The forest ecosystem teems with life and provides resources and services that sustain the 10,000 villagers living in the conservation area. 

The area represents critical habitat for Matschie’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschei), an endangered species with a bear-like head, monkey’s tail and a marsupial’s pouch. 

In 2010 the German Development Bank funded a collaborative project including James Cook University, TKCP and Conservation International, to investigate issues related to ecology, conservation, livelihoods and carbon sequestration in the YUS Conservation area.

After winning the prestigious Equator prize, political leaders in the Morobe province of Papua New Guinea have pledged K300,000 to support the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) in the Yus council area.

Their financial backing was prompted after United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Equator Initiative announced TKCP-PNG as one of the winners of the prestigious Equator Prize 2014, which recognises outstanding local achievement in advancing sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities and focuses on community-based grassroots action.

The team is in Sydney attending the World Parks Congress and are taking this time to network and share experiences with their fellow conservationists and to foster long term relationships.

Karau Kuna, one of the officers with TKCP-PNG, said this opportunity of sharing ideas and having one voice to tell the world leaders about lives and the environment we live in is one way of fighting for the rights of our generation and the preservation of the environment.

Our Pacific, Our Future: Pacific Island Leaders discuss what’s next after World Parks Congress

L - R Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands, President Tommy Remengesau Jnr of Palau,
President Anote Tong of Kiribati

14 November 2014, Sydney, Australia -  Regional solidarity, committed international partnerships, education and the need to look beyond the perceived barriers to successful conservation, were at the forefront of an informal dialogue between Pacific island leaders at the World Parks Congress in Sydney today.

The Prime Minister of Cook Islands, Mr Henry Puna; President of Palau, Mr Tommy Remengesau Jr; and President of Kiribati, Mr Anote Tong, highlighted these issues in the context of effective leadership for ocean conservation and protection of Pacific island fisheries.

The informal talanoa (talk) session, co-hosted by the IUCN Oceania Regional Office and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), aimed to encourage open conversation and sharing of leaders' perspectives on conservation. All three leaders are well respected for their commitments to protected areas and sustainable resource use. The country leaders shared inspirational stories on how they had been driven to make their conservation commitments and decisions and what this means for the future of their island nations.

President Remengesau, who is a recent recipient of the Champions of the Earth award from the United Nations' Environment Programme (UNEP), explained his country's decision to restrict commercial fisheries in its entire 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. He outlined food security, equitable resource sharing and the obvious need to address the depletion of ocean resources as Palau's main reasons for this decision. The President noted that currently only six percent of the region's six billion dollar fishing industry actually makes its way back to the region, and added that Palau also relies greatly on tourism for its economic security.

He added that protected areas provide a safe haven where marine life can thrive and reproduce. The benefits from this "rest area" or safe haven have spill-on effects to the non-protected areas of the ocean. Mr Remengesau noted that recent research suggested that setting aside one-third of an area for conservation had positive effects on the rest of the area.

President Tong noted that the Phoenix Island Protected Area (PIPA), an area of 408,250 square kilometres, is a major spawning ground, which will contribute to the long term sustainability of the country's ocean resources. He shared his own perspective on the challenges of bringing climate change issues and the needs of small islands to the international arena. He noted with great satisfaction the recent accords between the United States and China over greenhouse gas emissions, calling it a milestone in the negotiations with clear ramifications for the upcoming UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Paris. He reiterated the fact that advocacy on climate change should continue.

Prime Minister Henry Puna said that while his country depends more on tourism economically than fisheries, there is a need for Pacific solidarity. The government had further responded to the calls of its people to establish a marine protected area as part of efforts to ensure better management of ocean resources. The Cook Islands Marine Park spans over 1,065 million square kilometres – an area more than twice the size of Papua New Guinea.

On the theme of solidarity, the Prime Minister spoke on the "Polynesia Promise" - an initiative to be presented to the Polynesian Pacific Leaders to build synergies around marine protected areas in Polynesia extending from Aotearoa New Zealand to Hawaii. This has potential to be the most significant partnership on protected areas and will build on recent initiatives around conservation.

Overcoming barriers to effective management of these protected areas will be the major challenge for all the leaders as they strive to meet their conservation goals. The call for significant and lasting partnerships was a resounding theme throughout the discussions and resonated with the call for a particular focus on passing on the message to the children and young adults. Great support from the three heads of State was given for the vakas and their young crew to be champions of this message.

It is expected that these discussions will feed into the Sydney Promise declaration document, a draft of which is available on the World Parks Congress website.

For more information, contact: 
SPREP - Seema Deo seemad@sprep.org ph: 61 4511 09052
IUCN - Fei Tevi Feiloakitau.Tevi@iucn.org    ph: 61 4504 39490

SPREP and CITES to strengthen measures to control trade in endangered species

L - R, Mr. David Sheppard SPREP and Mr John Scanlon CITES
The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will strengthen their common goal of the conservation and sustainable use of protected species of wild fauna and flora.

Signing the agreement in the margins of the World Parks Congress today, Mr David Sheppard, Director General of SPREP, reflected that currently only six Pacific island countries are Parties to CITES.

"This is of great concern for a region which is a biodiversity hotspot of global importance, but where wild species and their products are widely used and traded," he said.

These include sperm whale teeth, turtle shells, corals, shells, shark fins and birds, insects and reptiles.

All marine turtle species are listed as threatened under CITES - Image courtesy of Niue Tourism Office

"Without an agreed structural framework to work from, management of this type of trade is challenging, if not impossible," said Mr Sheppard. "The limited human and technical capacity in the region in this area is another major challenge. In signing this Memorandum of Understanding with the CITES Secretariat, we look forward to progressing in areas of technical capacity building to address trade in endangered and threatened species."

Mr John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary General, said "SPREP is our strongest regional partner and we are confident that this agreement will ensure better coordination and cooperation, especially in supporting countries in the region build their capacity to meet their obligations under this convention."

One of the first tasks under the agreement will be to encourage other Pacific island countries to join CITES and to build synergies between CITES and other biodiversity-related MEAs in the region, in particular, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Mr Scanlon added that potential areas of collaboration were already evident as was seen in a recent joint preparatory meeting held prior to the Conference of Parties to the CBD, CMS and Ramsar. The joint preparatory meeting brought together those involved in implementing all four of the afore-mentioned conventions, setting the foundation for a more integrated approach to implementation and monitoring at national level.

CITES is a legally-binding treaty with 180 States Parties from six geographic regions (including Oceania), whose aim is to conserve biodiversity and contribute to its sustainable use by ensuring that no species of wild fauna or flora becomes or remains subject to unsustainable exploitation through international trade.

Pacific Island Leaders join Mua Voyage to set the sails for a new future

Mua Voyage sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, photo © Stuart Chape
12 November, Sydney, Australia -The Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) joined Pacific leaders and regional and international partners as the Mua Voyage of traditional ocean sailing canoes came to a dynamic, colourful and historic conclusion in Sydney today.
The four traditional voyaging canoes from Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand and Samoa have sailed to Sydney, Australia bringing a message of hope and progress and a call for unity and harmony between people and nature. In true Pacific spirit, the Voyaging Societies of Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga, worked as one to bring the Pacific voice to the World Parks Congress, which opened this afternoon at the Sydney Olympic Park.
Mr David Sheppard joined Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr; Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity,  Braulio Dias; and Executive Vice President of Conservation International, Greg Stone; on board the Samoan and Tongan crewed Gaualofa. President of Kiribati Anote Tong, and Prime Minister of Cook Islands Henry Puna, joined Fiji’s Uto ni Yalo and Cook Islands Marumaru Atua respectively.
Following a rousing welcoming dance by the crew, the Gaualofa guests were ushered on board, and allowed turns on the foe which steers the canoe.

                    Mua Voyage Sailing towards Darling Harbour -  photo © Stuart Chape

The two hour sail from Watson’s Bay to the Australian National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour allowed time for guests to mingle with the crew, talk about environmental matters and learn how the va’a works and the many challenges that come with ocean voyaging.

 The crew of Gaualofa is committed to environmentally sustainable practices, both on water and on land and many have become strong advocates for the protection and conservation of the ocean. Much of this has to do with their own experiences on the ocean and learning to live together in close quarters on the va’a.
“Before I started on the first voyage I did not have any idea of conservation or biodiversity or even of waste management,” says Fealofani Bruun, Watch Captain and an original crew member of Gaualofa.
Referring to an earlier Voyage in 2010, she reflects, “Even after environmental briefings by SPREP, Conservational International and others, I don’t think any of us really appreciated the true importance of our Pacific Ocean, not until we were actually out there and experiencing first-hand the true beauty and power of nature.”
Haka by the Mua Voyage crew members - photo © Stuart Chape

“Now, we get it – when we see plastic bags floating in the ocean, we know it’s because of our actions on land. When we catch a fish to eat, we appreciate that we can’t continue to take more than can be replenished by nature.”
“SPREP is committed to working with initiatives such as this to enable national and community level education and awareness programmes to foster real attitude change towards a Pacific where the environment, livelihoods and our cultures are in harmony,” said Mr Sheppard.
“Not everyone will sail on the open ocean, so it is our responsibility to help to share these experiences with others and to use this to motivate them to protect and better manage our natural environment.”
“The Mua Voyage has set a high standard for the Voyagers and partners alike, and I am keen to ensure that this momentum will progress and be reflected in action at the national level.”
SPREP is a co-partner in the Mua Voyage, which is  coordinated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Oceania Regional Office based in Suva, Fiji.

For more amazing images from Mr. Stuart Chape, please visit:  https://www.facebook.com/SPREP.PEIN

Thursday, November 13, 2014

PEOPLE PROFILE: Meet Gaualofa's Female Assistant Captain

Fealofani Bruun, Assistant Captain, Va'a Gaualofa

By Kevin Dayonga, Member of the Pacific Emerging Environment Leaders Network at the World Parks Congress.

She’s known as Fani to most of her friends, a young female voyager from Samoa. I met Fani when we were in Apia in October 2010, forming the Pacific Emerging Environmental Leaders’ Network (PEEL), an initiative of SPREP, which comprise of young professionals who have a shared vision for improved environmental management and sustainable development.

In 2012 I met with Fani in Honiara for the Festival of Pacific Arts other voyagers. She was among the many voyagers that sailed in to Honiara harbour to be part of the festival. I was privileged to get on board the Gaualofa, which is Samoa’s voyaging canoe.

Like any Pacific islander, Fani’s front or backyard is a beach and she always finds enjoyment in this particular spot any time of the day.

“As an Islander, it’s imbedded in my DNA, the smell of the ocean, the sounds of the birds, the flowers and vegetation that colour the beach front – this is paradise.”

She started sailing when she was 5 years old and grew up on a yacht. In 2009 she joined the Samoan Voyaging Society as one of the crew members. The Voyaging Society has the aim of promoting positive Samoan cultural values, respect for the ocean and nature, individual and social responsibility, discipline and integrity. This is what Fani aspires to do.

During our short chat she said, “The reintroduction of traditional sailing in Samoa will provide opportunities for youth development (sports, leadership), environmental awareness, cultural development and, potentially, tourism opportunities such as whale watching and adventure tours.

”Fani is keen to develop hands-on educational and training programmes in traditional sailing and navigation for young Samoan youth including school children, school leavers and other interested groups. The task of learning traditional sailing and navigation skills also develops leadership and discipline among the youth, leading to well-rounded young people capable of contributing positively to the growth of her beloved nation.

PEEL members with Voyagers

Voyaging has changed her as a person and within a few years she rose from a normal deckhand to one of the senior members of her vaka; not only that but being one of the captains in a male dominated field as perceived by many, she says, ”It’s a privilege and honour and very challenging. The lives of people are in your hands, you have to think about everyone else and not yourself. I’m very honoured to have such a great crew’’. 

The crew that she’s currently with is made up of Tongans, Samoans, Fijians, Cook Islanders and an American.

Coming to Sydney is part of her role as an environmental advocator. As an islander whose life revolves around the ocean and the little land she has.

“From my personal opinion, it is about inspiring the leaders to think for a moment and be proactive of what they are doing. The message that is brought is for them - I may not think like a scientist or talk eloquently like a politician but I and other members came with our hearts, we bring with us the voices of our people with the sails – with the backing of our ancestors. We are front liners, we will be affected first with sea level rise, ocean acidification is happening and we would like our voices be heard.”

But there are always challenges and it’s never easy.

“One of the challenging places is Australia especially when delivering climate change or environment related issues – maybe because of their mindset and how they see these issues differently. From where we are, it was not as challenging as when we were in the Californian coastline or in Mexico, but in Australia I was challenged by a yachty, who asked ‘you believe in climate change?’ and I was bit taken aback as they seem to think it’s a theory thing. I turned around and said I’m here. That’s why I came.”

With such a strong self-determination and will, she has moved mountains of waves to come to where she is now.

”My challenge to others is take ownership of what you have, be proud of it, look forward don’t look back, your ancestors will help guide you into the future. To young women, nothing is too high...like the waves, you don’t go through the wave you go over the wave. To my crew that I came with especially Samoans, I trust that they will return with a different mindset and new approach and attitudes towards their environment’.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pacific island nations highlight their unity at global biodiversity conference

07 October 2014, Pyeongchang Korea, CBD COP12 - The Pacific island nations have showcased their unity at the 12th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, sharing with over 190 governments the joint framework on nature conservation and protected areas.

Recently endorsed at the 25th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and highlighted during the Third UN International Conference on Small Islands Developing States, the Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific Islands region 2014 - 2020 is being celebrated yet again at the international arena.

"This is a significant milestone achievement for the Pacific Islands region mainly because the new Framework is closely aligned to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plans," said Ms. Atelaite Matoto, Director for Environment of Tonga, who made a statement at the CBD COP 12.

"This is probably the first for any sub-region and the next six  6 years will be an exciting one for us as we embark on this journey to implement our commitments through this Framework.  We cannot work alone on this journey thus the need for us to work together."

Ms. Atelaite Matoto, Tonga

The regional framework was developed with the contribution and input of over 800 stakeholders from throughout the Pacific islands region at a conference hosted by Fiji in December last year and was raised during a global discussion on strengthening support to parties to meet the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Concerns have been raised by the fast rates of loss of biodiversity and the slow pace at which actions are happening to help address this.  Actions that are to be carried out to meet the global agreement of 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

To help the Pacific islands meet the Aichi BiodiversityTargets, the regional framework document helps encourage an integrated approach, coordinating work at biodiversity at national and regional level in the Pacific islands in partnership with stakeholders.

"Tonga extends an invitation to governments, development partners, organisations and institutions who wish to partner and collaborate with us," said Ms. Matoto.

"This includes our regional organisations such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to ensure the successful implementation of the Framework and National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans which supports the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets in the Pacific Islands region."

The Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific Islands region 2014 - 2020  will be shared at the CBD COP 12 during a special Pacific islands event.

14 Pacific island countries are party to the Convention on Biological Diversity with Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu currently in Korea attending the CBD COP12 from 6 - 17 October, 2014.  Soon to arrive are the Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fiji on the map, guiding coordination of UN convention

Pacific delegates at the CBD COP 12 in Korea
Ms. Eleni Tokaduadua front row second from left

6 October 2014, Pyeongchang Korea, CBD COP12 - Fiji represents the Pacific islands that are parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity on the Conference of the Parties Bureau.  This group acts as a board to provide guidance to the CBD Secretariat in coordinating any intercessional meetings and conferences over a two year period.

Fiji is one of two representatives for the Asia Pacific region on the CBD COP Bureau, along with Thailand, having been nominated by Pacific island parties at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the CBD in Hyderabad India in 2012.

Ms. Eleni Tokaduadua, Principal Environment Officer of the Department of Fiji is now coming to the end of her term as a representative on the CBD COP Bureau:

"One of the key objectives of the bureau which I thought was very relevant was to see how the Convention on Biological Diversity is mainstreamed into other sectoral programmes at the national level, and other UN conventions.  Partnerships has also been a driving force in Bureau discussions over the last two years as well as we progress the work and actions under this Convention."

As a representative of the Pacific islands, Eleni Tokaduadua has also worked to ensure that decisions made regarding funding, participation and resources available from the Convention on Biological Diversity is shared equally, that the Small Islands Developing States and the Least Developed Countries receive their fair share.

As Fiji's term on the COP bureau comes to an end, the Pacific will not be represented on the bureau until the 14th Conference of the Parties in 2018.  There are four sub regions within the Asia Pacific Region each taking turns two sub regions at a term.

Pacific delegates support drafting of statements at the Asia Pacific Meeting

"I'm privileged to be a member of the COP Bureau serving the Pacific region and I thank them for their confidence in me however it's important to flag a crucial point for future bureau members," said Tokaduadua.

"We as a sub region can improve.  While our Pacific representative drives our perspectives in this process, it is also important for countries to note that we as Pacific island parties also have a responsibility to meet our obligations, whether they be submitting reports in on time or abiding by travel arranged.  When we as a region don't have a positive profile due to our failure in meeting our obligations, that also reflects badly on the COP Bureau representative.  This is important to keep in mind."

Ms. Eleni  Tokaduadua is the head of the delegation of Fiji at the CBD COP 12 from 6 - 12 October in Pyeongchang, Korea.  At the Opening Plenary, Ms. Tokaduadua was elected as Rapporteur of the COP12 meeting which is quite a significant position to hold.  14 Pacific island countries are party to the Convention on Biological Diversity with Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu currently in Korea attending the CBD COP12.  Soon to arrive are the Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.