Thursday, October 28, 2010

Samoa to host reef protection meeting

Minister Faumuina Tiatia Liuga speaks during the high level segment of COP 10 in Nagoya Japan

The Pacific Voyage Media Team 28 October Nagoya Japan -

Samoa will host a high-level meeting to discuss coral reef protection and conservation.

This was announced by the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), Faumuina Tiatia Liuga in Nagoya, Japan.  He was speaking during the high-level segment of the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) at Century Hall, Nagoya Congress Centre.

The meeting is the 22nd General Meeting of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI). It is scheduled from 8th to 15th November.  Samoa will co-chair the meeting with France during which participants are expected to update the ICRI plan of work for coral reef protection and conservation.

“Samoa is among a group of small islands within the largest of oceans rich in marine ecosystems that are critical to our survival,” the Minister told leaders at COP10, who worked late into the night to deliver their country statements.  “The Pacific Ocean, the beaches and its coral reefs are home to a number of marine mammals particularly the green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles which are currently facing extinction.”

The meeting will focus on strengthening conservation programmes for such marine mammals.

“Samoa has in place a number of programmes and projects in the areas of biodiversity conservation and management, adaptation to climate change and promotion of renewable energy, community development in response to land degradation through country specific projects and regional programmes where biodiversity is an integral part,” the Minister said.

“We are continuing the partnerships with our development partners and partner organisations within the United Nations, International IGOs and NGOs, the World Bank and ADB to pursue these opportunities as they arise. On that note, we acknowledge all our development partners for their kind efforts and assistance.”

On biodiversity in general, Minister Faumuina said Samoa has taken active steps to address the loss of biodiversity.

“Because small islands are particularly vulnerable to species loss and extinction, we have to be creative ourselves, and develop innovative solutions so that shifts demonstrate that we are no longer dealing with biodiversity as business as usual,” he said.

“Hence I am pleased to inform that Samoa's pursuance of partnerships within the area of biological diversity, at the national level with communities, NGOs and private sector, regional level with fellow PIFS and SPREP members as well as international organizations, and at international level with our development partners, have enabled the progression of our programmes on Forest Conservation, Invasive Species Management, and Protected areas in marine and terrestrial locations.

“Closer relations with communities and farmers will be strengthened through national agro-ecosystem and agro-forestry projects under the GEF and government of Australia, where Samoa is at the forefront in promoting organic farming in the Pacific.”

The protection and conservation of mangrove ecosystems is an integral part of Samoa’s efforts. The mangroves’ resilience to storm surges and tidal waves provide protection against rising waves. Further, they provide natural breeding ground for marine life which people's livelihoods depend on.

“Samoa places great importance on synergistic implementation of programmes, where common objectives and activities exist,” he said.  “This provides for more effective service delivery to the public, a coherent approach to sustainable biological diversity management, reduce human and financial constraints, and contribute to achieving.”

The protection of biodiversity plays a major role in climate change adaptation, the meeting heard.

“Samoa acknowledged the commemoration of the International Year of Biological diversity this year with the promotion of Samoa to be carbon-neutral by the year 2020,” said Faumuina.

“Our national Samoa challenge to plant a million trees within our very small islands commenced in November 2009 for three years. The youth, (and children included) have already made some real contributions to this mission with plantings by young students of trees in our national reserves.
“Energy trees are also being assessed for further exploration of energy generating technologies. Ensuring these are properly designed and implemented to avoid adverse environment impacts on the biodiversity is of essence.

“That is because we believe that an investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation can also be a significant investment in biodiversity.”

Minister Faumuina urged world leaders to work together to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.
"We should not be discouraged by the level of achievements being tabled, because within our small islands much progress has been made,” he said.

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