Reposted 17 October 2011, Apia Samoa - The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is hosting its first symposium for young professionals who are emerging as environmental leaders in the Pacific islands.
The Symposium, being held in Apia, Samoa from 16-20 October, was officially opened this morning by SPREP Director-General, David Sheppard.
Twenty young Pacific Islanders, hailing from a diverse range of professions, are participating in the Symposium, which will set the stage for the Pacific Emerging Environment Leaders’ (PEEL) Initiative, a longer-term programme aimed at supporting action by young professionals for environmental management and leadership.
Mr Sheppard congratulated participants on their selection and highlighted the value of young minds in developing innovative solutions to today’s problems. He made reference to the Pacific’s “youth bulge” and noted that in the region, the age group of 15-29 years accounts for a third of the working age population.
“You are arguably the most important sector of the populations, particularly as you move into leadership positions in our Pacific countries over the next few years,” he said.
“You are the ones who will be influencing and setting policy which will determine how well our environment is managed in the future.”
The Director-General referred to pressing issues in the Pacific region, which included biodiverisity, waste management and climate change as an environmental issues cutting across all sectors. He observed the range of different work sectors from which participants hailed and stressed that this bode well for addressing environment in a multi-sectoral manner.
The 20 participants to the week-long Symposium were selected from over 100 applications received from across the Pacific islands region. Seema Deo, SPREP’s Education and Communications Adviser, and organiser of the initiative, explained that participants were selected on the basis of drive, commitment, ability to nurture the growth of others and on their written vision statements.
“All applicants were of an exceptionally high calibre, which made the selection process a challenge for the four-person panel,” she said. “We are however, confident that we have a dynamic, self-motivated group, capable of thinking beyond barriers and who can contribute to good decision-making that integrates environmental thinking in the development framework.”
“We also hope to be in a position to engage those who missed out on this Symposium through an electronic forum and, potentially, through face-to-face interactions as the PEEL gains momentum.”
The Symposium participants have a wide range of interests, including energy, health, marine conservation and agriculture and come from media, government, civil society and the private sector. They will spend the week developing leadership skills, identifying clear pathways for action and developing a framework for a capacity building programme for young professionals in the region.