Monday, October 25, 2010

Navigating the Pacific Voyage at Nagoya biodiversity talks

The Pacific Voyage Media Team 26 October 2010 Nagoya Japan -

L - R Dr. Posa Skelton, Faleaga Toni Tipama'a, Easter Galuvao, Bernadette Carreon

Easter Galuvao is SPREP’s Biodiversity Advisor and one of the navigators of the Pacific Voyage at the CBD COP 10. Having only commenced her new position at SPREP in April this year, she has jumped in at the deep end with the task of coordinating the Pacific island “voyage” to the 10th international conference of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Preparations for the Conference have involved hosting a regional preparatory meeting (known as the Pre-COP), dissemination of key information, coordinating support from  – regional organisations, NGOs and key partners and developing a briefing paper for Pacific island countries to help identify key issues for the region.

“This regional approach has enabled us to amplify the Pacific voice at the COP – presenting statements on behalf of the Pacific Island parties getting our messages across,” said Ms Galuvao.

This is important for small island nations striving to be heard at a 15,000 person-strong international event.

The Pacific countries have been working hard to make sure that their position on issues such as access and benefit sharing (ABS), invasive species, biodiversity and climate change, the strategic action plan and financing are well articulated at the global negotiations.

Ms Galuvao says that even though she was well-versed on the CBD, getting to fully understand the current issues for the negotiations has been a somewhat daunting experience.

“This is the first time I have attended a Conference of Parties as a SPREP representative and the first thing you need to learn is to understand the roles of IGOs in the process and how to effectively provide support to the Pacific Island Parties,” she says. “There are formal working group meetings, contact group meetings and, of course the plenary sessions – you have to get your head around all these fit together first before you can do anything else”.

“Then, of course, you have the history,” she adds. “The draft working papers often refer to some decision made two or even three meetings ago. Those who have been attending the various meetings sometimes take it for granted that everyone else has this background.”

In actual fact, having to learn the process first hand and in a short space has possibly been an unexpected advantage for SPREP’s new Biodiversity Adviser and for many of the new Pacific delegates.

“Because I have had to learn myself, I have probably been more empathetic of our delegates’ needs,” she explains.

Certainly, Ms Galuvao’s input to the preparations is not over. As the second week of the negotiations unfolds, she continues to provide her assistance where needed, and is now in the process of facilitating a high level event with Pacific Environment Ministers during the week. As one of the navigators of the Pacific Voyage, Ms. Galuvao looks forward to as smooth a sail as possible on their Pacific Voyage to Nagoya and back to the Pacific.

“The work doesn’t stop here; we now have to look at actions to implement the outcomes of the Nagoya conference,” she said.   

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