Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Pacific Statement on Biodiversity

The Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity which was held 16 - 18 August prepared the below final meeting statement.  

The meeting was coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and was attended by the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Niue, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Partners that attended this meeting are the Department of Conservation NZ, Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts Australia, Environmental Defender Office, Fiji Forestry Department, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, IUCN, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, University of the South Pacific, United Nations Environment Programme, WWF and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Please click here to view the document in pdf format

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pacific Islander to vacate seat on World Biodiversity Bureau, in October

Come the end of October, the second Pacific nation to hold a seat on the Bureau for the Convention for Biological Diversity, passes this privilege on.  

Tania Temata from the Cook Islands together with Cambodia represents the Asia Pacific Group on this bureau.  It is a first for the Cook Islands to be represented on any bureau for the many global multilateral-environmental agreements. 
R: Tania Temata
The Bureau for the CBD is like a Board of Directors for a company.  It reviews the implementation of the Convention and oversees the preparation of the bi-annual conferences of the parties and all other related meetings in between the conference of the parties.   The logistic organisation of the meeting is coordinated by the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity.

The Convention of the Biological Diversity is having the 10th Conference of the Parties in Nagoya, Japan in October this year, for which 14 Pacific islands countries and territories are a party to this international agreement to conserve the biodiversity of the World.

The Asia Pacific Group is a recognised United Nations grouping within the Convention of Biological Diversity.  It consists of over 40 different countries and is given two seats on the Bureau each term.  Kiribati was the first Pacific nation to be nominated on the bureau by the Asia Pacific group.  It has been agreed within the group that the seats are to be rotated each term amongst its sub-region grouping. (South Asia, Central Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific)

“My first interest is to represent the views of the Pacific islands countries on this bureau, and the business of CBD.  Secondly it is to represent the interests of Asia Pacific as a group,” said Temata on her role on the bureau.

“I have learned a lot by sitting on the bureau in terms of CBD business and how the UN system works.  Also working within the Asia Pacific Group, I've had to work within the dynamics of the different countries, their differing interests and priorities.  Trying to manage these differing views, and making sure all interests are equally represented without any biases has been a real learning curve for me.”

"The Asia Pacific group consists of both developing and developed nations, big countries, like China and smaller countries like Niue for example.  You have to recognise that the dynamics of the group is wide and varied, and try your best to represent them.  I just hope that I have been able to represent both the Pacific and the group well during this term."
Temata will vacate her seat on the Bureau of the CBD at the end of the 10th Conference of the Parties in Nagoya, Japan.  She began her term at the end of the 9th Conference of the Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn, Germany in 2008.

Talking the talk: Quick pointers

  • CBD means Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • A Multilateral environment agreement is a legally binding agreement  is a legally binding agreement between two or more states relating to the environment - examples of which are the Convention on Biological Diversity or the United Nations Framework on the Convention on Climate Change Kyoto Protocol.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Preparing the “One Pacific” for international biodiversity negotiations in October

A three day meeting has brought the Pacific region closer together as the 14 island countries prepare to face the world at the 10th Conference of the Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity in October.  The international agreement was formed to help conserve the worlds biodiversity and establish targets to halt the current rate of biodiversity loss.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) brought together Pacific Island Parties,  donors, partners and other interested conservationalists to discuss and deliberate on key biodiversity issues for countries and the region and how they will be approached at the international arena.

“To my mind this has been one of the most effective support meetings,” said Mr. Stuart Chape, the Island Ecosystems Programme Manager for SPREP. “I think we have all benefited from this meeting, and SPREP will continue to support you so there is effective engagement and a strong Pacific Voice at the international gathering on Biodiversity in October.”

SPREP is now preparing a Pacific brief on the agenda issues that will help the Pacific representatives at the world meeting, SPREP will also assist with a communications plan to raise a ‘One Pacific Voice’ at side events, exhibitions and media work while at the 2010 Conference of the Parties.  The foundation for this work stems from the three day meeting in Nadi, Fiji this week, whereby the 11 Pacific Islands parties reached common ground for a Pacific approach.

“A key highlight for this was to bring the Pacific parties to the Convention together to work out some of the key regional priority issues that they would like to focus on and collectively work together at the 10th Conference of the Parties to present these issues,” said Easter Galuvao, the Biodiversity Adviser for SPREP.

“The national priorities are still important for the countries, but the meeting helped to facilitate these to a discussion on the regional level, so they can be promoted together as a Pacific Voice at the international level.”

The commitment from the countries and partners to work together in support of each other was also an important highlight at this meeting.  Whereas other countries outside of the Pacific can bring larger delegations to support their negotiations at the meeting, Pacific members usually bring one or two member delegations, at the most.

It is at the 2010 Conference of the Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity that the Pacific can showcase the conservation efforts underway in the region, for which there are many successes.  This will also be the opportunity to highlight the challenges the Pacific region is faced with, such as the impact of climate change on our biodiversity, so that international communities and partners may be able to provide the support needed to address these challenges.

“Attending this meeting will require a lot of financial support, the meetings will be very intense and a one person delegation will not be able to cover all the issues they would like, so we are hoping to get some financial assistance from partners.”

Seni Nabou of Greenpeace Pacific attended the three day meeting to learn more on the country and Pacific approach at the coming meeting in October, for which she will also be attending.

“I think this meeting was worthwhile for the Pacific, it was a great opportunity to meet the parties attending the international conference in Nagoya and to understand where the Pacific will be in terms of positions and priorities.

The region now has less than two months to finalise strategic positioning at the COP, which will be 10 days of long intense negotiations and meetings. Tania Temata, who represents the Asia Pacific Group on the Bureau for the Convention on Biological Diversity, advises that countries finalise their positions and get ready for the Nagoya meeting.
“When you come to Nagoya, bring your stamina with you, don’t leave it behind as you’ll need it all the way and be prepared for the long haul and for the unexpected, you never know what can happen.”
The 10th Conference of the Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity will be held from 18 to 29 of October in Nagoya, Japan.

Sitting at the negotiations table; training for Pacific Islanders

Negotiating an international agreement with over 180 countries during a two week period in the one venue is like entering a new world.  To help our Pacific countries negotiate at this level, a one day negotiations skills training course took place in Nadi, Fiji.  So when the Pacific takes to the world stage at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in October, they will be better prepared.

Experienced Tuvalu negotiator, Mr. Ian Fry, has facilitated negotiations training for well over a decade in the Pacific.  This week he worked with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Environmental Defender’s Office (Sydney) to train Pacific government delegates.

“I’ve done workshops in the Pacific region for a lot of Pacific Island countries and am gratified to see people coming out of their shells,” said Fry. 

“Once they know the game that is part of negotiations they come out of their shells and then are quite active in the negotiations, you can see the improvements in people through different meetings”.

The training activities help people become good negotiators.  The one day session teaches participants how to read text.  A mock plenary session is staged as part of the training to provide practise in making country statements in an easy to understand manner.  The practical sessions help participants to listen to what countries are saying.  This is critical in negotiating an outcome that would be accepted at the international level.  Participants therefore have to think about words and how to negotiate them and also to recognise how certain phrases are used, or misused to achieve certain outcomes.

For this particular training, the participants were given different roles and fictitious countries to represent.  There were delegates from countries such as “Swidden”,” Porceleina”, “Germaland” and “Portagoal", and while the negotiation training is a serious issue, humour was also a part of the training.

“It was excellent group, they really got engaged in the discussions and really took on their roles, I was very impressed.   A good negotiator is one who can be serious but can also find humour to build bridges with other countries to find a common ground, that’s all part of the business.”
For Seni Nabou of Greenpeace Pacific, taking part in the negotiations training was an enjoyable experience.  Nabou has attended the International negotiation meetings in the past and will be going to Nagoya, Japan in October -

“It was fun for me because I could throw back some of the things that I hear countries say and do at the Conference of the Parties negotiations, I liked it yeah!”

Touasi Tiwok of Vanuatu found the training very helpful, she attended the conference in Bonn, Germany in 2008 and will be going to Nagoya, Japan for her second Conference of the parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity.
“The training was very real in terms of the practical side of it we were given an opportunity to actually sit in what you call working groups, go through the deliberations and look at the text and do all the nitty gritty parts of negotiations,” said Tiwok.  

“It helped us as to what sort of things to look for and how important it is for us to have a national position and how to use the pacific statements we have and to link that country to our statement.”

The training was funded by the EU-MEA Capacity Building Project and was held on day three of the Pacific Regional CBD COP19 Preparatory Meeting in Nadi, Fiji.

Talking the talk: Quick pointers
  • 10th Conference of the Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity, written in any different order is often referred to CBD COP10, or COP10 CBD.
  • Conference of the Parties is shortened to COP or COP's
  • Convention on Biological Diversity is often shortened to CBD
  • MEA is short for Multilateral Environment Agreements which are international agreements on the environment