Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ocean's Day at the Biodiversity talks in Nagoya

The Pacific Voyage Media Team
24 October Nagoya Japan -  The World Oceans Day held at the Shirotori Hall on Saturday was to draw high-level policy attention to the need to address the major drivers of ocean and coastal biodiversity loss.
It was also to take stock of progress in the achievement of global biodiversity targets and outline the next steps in the global oceans agenda. Presentations were made from all sectors that focused around major topics in marine and coastal biodiversity.
The Oceans Day wanted to address the priority actions to be taken in the next phase to achieve the long-term health and well being of the oceans, highlighting the need to scale up efforts for integrated marine and coastal area management.
Below is the presentation made by the Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Mr David Sheppard at the Oceans Day event.

Chair, ladies and gentlemen

SPREP - the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme – is delighted to have the opportunity to address Oceans Day at Nagoya.
SPREP is based in Apia, Samoa, and has been working in support of Pacific countries for over 35 years to better manage and protect the terrestrial and marine environment in the Pacific.
We are recognized by the Heads of Governments of Pacific Countries as the lead agency in the region for biodiversity, climate change, and management of solid waste and pollution.

SPREP is fully accountable to our members – the 21 governments of Pacific Countries and Territories and the 4 so called metropolitan countries, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and France.

We are accountable through an annual SPREP Meeting, with the most recent being a SPREP  Ministerial Meeting, held in Madang, Papua New Guinea in September of this year.

Ministers at this meeting adopted a Strategic Plan for the 2011 to 2015 period and this sets out ambitious targets for SPREP and the Pacific Region in biodiversity, climate change, waste management and environmental governance.

Better management and protection of the Pacific Ocean is at the heart of SPREP’s work. We implement a number of programmes on marine conservation, including the management of coral reefs and the management of marine species such as turtles and dugongs.

This emphasis reflects the reality of life in the Pacific – the Pacific Ocean is the lifeblood of Pacific peoples and our island nations. Our peoples have lived from the sea and the land for thousands of years and have adapted and developed approaches to safeguard the environment and to ensure sustainable use of natural resources.
This size, coupled with the limited capacity of many Pacific countries to manage their marine and coastal environment, poses many significant challenges for the Pacific.

Chair, in the 4 minutes remaining to me I would like to highlight 4 issues relevant to the conservation and management of the Pacific Ocean.

First, Pacific Leaders have set clear directions.
Pacific Heads of Government at the Pacific Forum in August of this year directed Pacific countries to adopt the Oceanscape Framework, put forward by the President of Kiribati.
The Oceanscape proposal was also endorsed by Pacific Environment Ministers meeting in Madang in September.

This Framework has a number of elements. It calls for more effective management of the Pacific Ocean, including the need to identify the most important areas for marine biodiversity and ensure they are protected. The Oceanscape Framework calls for the more effective and sustainable management of fisheries stocks and, importantly, it calls on all stakeholders to better collaborate to better protect and manage the Pacific Ocean. For SPREP this specifically means that we have to work more closely with other regional agencies, including the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Forum Fisheries Agency.
We are committed to better partnerships with other regional agencies, with governments and with our friends and partners working with NGOs in the region.

So, the message and direction from Pacific Leaders on the Oceanscape Framework is clear – we now have to implement this directive.

Second, we must strengthen Ocean Governance in the Pacific
Limited capacity remains a key challenge to effectively managing biodiversity in the Pacific Ocean.

The Pacific Ocean is vast – covering 34% of the earth’s surface.

The issue of limited human resources and economies of scale are significant limiting factors in effective biodiversity conservation efforts.

We must build more effective and sustainable organisations in the Pacific that can better manage and protect the marine environment.

This will require leadership and political commitment from governments and it will also require donors to invest in supporting these sustainable institutions and to invest over a longer time period

We must scale up regional efforts on marine biodiversity.

At the Pacific side event yesterday we launched the report on Lessons from Humpback Whale Conservation in Oceania. The Report highlights the partnerships and the actions necessary to effectively manage marine species in our region. The Pacific Ocean is a migration route for many ocean dwelling species – just as it was in the past for our people. If we are to conserve such species then we must work cooperatively as a region.

In strengthening ocean governance we have to build on local systems and approaches that work within our context.

Long before biodiversity became a household name, Pacific islanders were using bans and restrictions (tapus) over areas or stocks that are in decline or threatened, imposed by community leaders and enforced by traditional fines.

We need to build on these and other traditional practice in Pacific island countries.

The development of protected areas, for example, must reflect the unique system of land ownership and customary tenure in the Pacific rather than slavishly following western models of national parks and protected areas.
In fact the Pacific is leading the way in the development of Locally Managed Marine Areas – these are marine areas established and managed with and through local Pacific communities.

There are now more than 650 of these areas established in many Pacific Countries.

There are also many other exciting initiatives in the Pacific region including the Micronesia Challenge and the Coral Triangle.

Initiatives like these which build and strengthen better ocean governance must  be encouraged and expanded.

Third, we have to develop more effective links between climate change and ocean biodiversity. We are all aware of the serious and immediate threats facing the low lying atolls and islands of the Pacific. In Pacific countries climate change is not just an environmental issue – it is also an issue with immense social, economic and moral dimensions.

In fact it is an issue of national security.

Predictions of sea level rise over the next 100 years up to 2 metres and temperature increases up to 4.5 degrees will have catastrophic impacts for Pacific peoples and our marine ecosystems.

We welcome commitments under the Copehangen Accord to support climate change efforts in developing countries, with particular attention to the most vulnerable countries.

And there are no more vulnerable countries that the low lying islands and atolls of the Pacific.
These commitments must be met and must be met now.

We have been disappointed by the slow delivery of the so called “fast start” funding under the Copenhagen Accord. We are now nearly 50% through the period of the fast start funding and only about 13% of funds has been allocated. This must change to reflect the urgency of the situation.

A major slice of future climate funding will be for adaptation to climate change.

This funding must support efforts to improve marine conservation and develop and support
initiatives which will make our coral reefs and marine ecosystems more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Fourth SPREP calls for better information on the marine environment
The IUCN Red List provides the most up-to-date information for the Pacific Islands region.
However, information on the biodiversity of the Pacific Islands region is generally either limited in accuracy and scope, out of date, or poorly documented. Gaps exist for groups such as seaweeds, mangroves and marine invertebrates.

Better information and data is essential for to ensure more effective management and conservation of the Pacific Ocean.

We urge governments, NGOs, partners and donors to support focused and targeted research which can enable better priority setting and long term management.

Ladies and gentlemen, this CBD COP 10 is ringing the alarm bells – and ringing them loudly - on the catastrophic loss of biodiversity in the world’s Oceans.

These impacts will have dramatic impacts for the pacific Ocean

SPREP calls on all stakeholders and partners to work together to ensure a healthier and more secure future for our Pacific Ocean
Thank you

LAUNCH OF Lessons from Humpback Whale Conservation in Oceania
As part of the International Year of Biodiversity, SPREP supported a case study on efforts in conservation of cetaceans. The full report is currently being edited for print however, we are pleased today to launch an excerpt from the report – Lessons from Humpback Whale Conservation in Oceania. The Report highlights the partnerships, the commitments and the necessary compromises that are required to effectively manage marine species.
We are proud that more than 10 Pacific islands have established marine sanctuaries aimed at providing safe havens for marine species, in particular, marine mammals and turtles.

International efforts to ensure the conservation of whales in the Pacific, and ensuring an effectively conserved Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, must continue and be accelerated.

SPREP will continue to strengthen and support our efforts to conserve marine species and we will encourage more studies of this nature to ensure that we are able to learn from and apply lessons from past endeavours in nature conservation to our current needs.

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