Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pacific Environment Ministerial breakfast at Nagoya biodiversity talks

The Pacific Voyage Media Team 27 October, Nagoya Japan -

High level delegates from Nauru

Environment Ministers of the Pacific met for breakfast this morning in Nagoya Japan, they have gathered together for the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10).

The high level breakfast segment for Pacific environment leaders was hosted by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

The Environment Minister of Papua New Guinea welcomed all to the event including Ms. Monique Barbut, CEO of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Hon. Benny Allan, PNG Environment Minister
“Madam Barbut, I am sure you are aware that not all the resources that were allocated to the countries in the region under the GEF-PAS have not been fully accessed by the countries,” said Environment Minister Honourable Benny Allan of Papua New Guinea.

“We would like to urge the GEF Secretariat to encourage the Implementing Agencies to quickly complete the necessary paper work to allow the countries to access and use this much needed resources.

The Director of SPREP, Mr. David Sheppard also addressed Ms. Barbut, thanking her for her strong personal commitment to the Pacific.  The SPREP Ministerial meeting focused on environmental financing and the role of the GEF - it is critically important to continue to improve access by Pacific countries to GEF resources.

“As you know, Madam CEO the Pacific is a unique and vast region – covering 34% of the earth’s surface - only 500,000+ km2 of land area in 30 million km2 of ocean,” stated Mr. Sheppard during his statement at the breakfast.

This size, coupled with the limited capacity of many Pacific countries to manage their environment, poses many significant challenges for the Pacific.  It is important that these unique circumstances of the Pacific are recognized by GEF.”

SPREP Director Mr. David Sheppard

It was during the SPREP Ministerial meeting that the 2011 to 2015 strategic plan was adopted it places emphasis on monitoring environmental outcomes in Pacific countries and also at the regional level.

“Better information and data is essential to ensure more effective management and conservation in the Pacific islands region. Without this we are shooting in the dark - you as policy and decision-makers need timely and quality information to help you make strategic environment and develop decisions. We in the Secretariat need to understand regional and national environmental trends,” outlined Mr. Sheppard.

“This is an area where we hope GBIF can play an important role”.

Dr. Nick King, GBIF

Pacific; rich in biodiversity but few resources to record and share information

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) would like to strengthen relations with the Pacific Island countries to ensure a vast data of biodiversity information is freely available to all.

The GBIF hosted a Pacific Ministerial Breakfast Meeting in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“GBIF is a technical implementation process,” said Dr. Nick King the Executive Director of GBIF. 

Small nations are rich in biodiversity but have few resources to record and share data.

“For Pacific Island countries it is very difficult to access biodiversity information as many withholds information from the Pacific.”

GBIF data is available online and has links to more than 40 million records of species and specimens.  Aside from free access to information, the organization also provides training programs to enhance countries capacities.

Dr. King said that the mandate of GBIF is to work with individual countries to improve biodiversity information but also has ties with regional agencies such as SPREP to ensure data is brought across to the Pacific nations.

Francois Rogers, GBIF
GBIF is a coordinated international scientific effort to enable users throughout the world to discover and put to use vast quantities of global biodiversity data to help advance scientific research in many disciplines, promoting technological and sustainable development, facilitating the equitable sharing of the benefits of biodiversity, and enhancing the quality of life of members of society.

Pacific urged to improve environment project ratio

A key organisation which provides funds to address environmental issues has urged Pacific countries to speed up the implementation of projects.

The call came from Monique Barbut, CEO of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) during a Ministerial breakfast meeting at the Hilton Hotel, Nagoya.

Ms. Monique Barbut addressing Pacific Ministerial delegates

“It is true we have a problem with getting projects started,” Ms Barbut said. “Today, of close to $100million, only twelve projects have been implemented and we need to improve that ratio.”

Ms Barbut said GEF is willing to do whatever it could to help.

“I promise that we are going to roll up our sleeves, picking up the telephone, meeting face to face and do whatever it takes to see what else can be done to help you improve the pace of projects in your country.”

The CEO acknowledged the key role played by the Vailima-based SPREP.

“One key challenge that I recognise is the coordination,” she said. “We need to ensure the capacity remains with SPREP to assist countries with GEF-related technical issues to get the projects working.”

Ms Barbut said recently announced reforms which include the reduction of the project cycle to 18 months and prioritising direct access reflect their commitment to help Pacific countries.

“I think the progress so far has been successful yet we need to improve and the reality is that it would make much more sense for countries in this region to move forward together rather than individual,” she said.

“So first we need a period of stocktaking and reflection to recognise where we are and where we want to go.

“I know some of you have already started such a process by requesting the application form and this process can be used for stocktaking, identifying gaps and to see where you want to go in the future and how you want to use your GEF resources.

“Once you have completed this process and identified how you want to use your GEF resources, you can then use this information to design a new programme.”

The present programme needs more projects to be implemented, she said.

“We cannot go to the GEF Council asking for new programme unless we can see the tangible outputs of the current programme,” said Ms Barbut.

“We are committed here to give you all the help you need to fully implement the current programme. The faster we have those projects operating, the sooner we can fully leverage the impact we all want.

“Your governments need your commitment to fully support the delivery on biodiversity, climate change and poverty.”

The GEF is an independent financial organisation which provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

These projects benefit the global environment, linking local, national, and global environmental challenges and promoting sustainable livelihoods.

Earlier this week, it announced key reforms to help countries access funds to protect the environment.

The reforms include:
  • Commitment to being a fully integrated results-based management system for portfolio monitoring. This will include opening the project database to agencies to input data for project implementation reports.
  • Commitment to enhance country-driven agenda. The strengthening of country ownership is top priority. GEF is also reforming the Country Support Programme for Focal points to make it even more effective. A key part will be the provision of small grants to interested countries to fund portfolio identification exercises.
  • Expansion on direct access agenda by providing grants to countries for preparation of national reports and communications to the conventions. Countries will have the option of requesting funding either from the GEF Agencies or directly from the GEF Secretariat.
  • Expansion of the GEF Partnership.
  • GEF-5 Replenishment recognised that GEF would benefit from an expansion of the member and type of agencies that are able to receive resources directly from the GEF Trust Fund. This will give countries greater choice and will open GEF to a broader range of expertise and contacts.
(Please note, more images to be uploaded tomorrow)

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