Friday, October 19, 2012

Pacific Voyage in India

18 October, CBD COP 11, Hyderabad India – The Cook Islands, Kiribati, Samoa and Pacific Youth were featured during the Pacific Voyage side event held during the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in India this week.

The event held during the sidelines of the negotiations drew a strong crowd interested in nature conservation work in the Pacific region, eager to exchange solutions and learning experiences.  The Pacific event ended with a special performance from the Go4BioDiv International Youth Forum participants.

The Cook Islands presented on their voyage to becoming Biodiversity Champions.  Host of the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands, the theme was “Large Ocean Island States, the Pacific Challenge.”  At the opening of the Forum in August, the Cook Islands launched their Marine Park, the commitment of the largest area in history by a single country for integrated ocean conservation and management.  The Marine Park will encompass approximately 1.1 million square kilometers of the South Cook Islands’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

“We recognise the challenges but take the view that this voyage is ambitions but not impossible.  We are encouraged by the innovations coming out of Island Nations for Biodiversity and Ocean Conservation, and look to our fellow nations for guidance based on their experiences thus far,” presented Mr. Joseph Brider of the Cook Islands.

 This was followed by a presentation on Innovative Financial Mechanisms of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area by Ms. Nenenteiti Teariki – Ruatu of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agriculture Development (MELAD).  She shared the achievements, challenges and future directions for the PIPA. 

“Three key priority areas for our capacity over the next 10 years are; to help us with policy capacity to address the impacts of climate change; management and administration skills and; economic valuation to assist us with valuing our protected areas and species.”

Samoa shared their process for their state of environment report which included wide consultation with all sectors and key stakeholders of the environment in Samoa.  Based upon this the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa are now producing materials that can be read and understood by all.

As presented by Faleafaga Toni Tipama’a, “we are making sure that our resources are understood by our local community in Samoa, here in Hyderabad we brought copies of our Samoa Outlook in both English and Samoan languages and all have been taken!  This is because we use a lot of imagery in our materials so they are easily understood at a glance, regardless of what language they are in.”

“We are all responsible for taking care of our environment so we made sure that we all had a role to play in preparing the Samoa State of Environment report.”

The Pacific Voyage Side Event ended with a presentation from the youth on the importance of protecting their heritage which was well received by those attending the side event.

Pacific delegates meet the new Head of Global Environment Facility

18 October 2012, CBD COP 11, Hyderabad India - Pacific delegates had a special breakfast meeting with the new CEO of the Global Environment Facility, Dr Naoko Ishii, at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the GEF Secretariat, the high level breakfast was an opportunity for the Pacific to meet with Dr Ishii and discuss funding issues.

“This years’ SPREP Ministerial Meeting also focused on environmental financing and the role of the GEF in particular.  Ministers noted strong appreciation for GEF funding in the region under the GEF- PAS – Pacific Alliance for Sustainability Programme.  This is the only regional GEF programme in the world and we consider this as a potential model of innovation for application elsewhere,” said Mr. David Sheppard, the Director-General of SPREP.
“It is critically important to continue to improve access by Pacific countries to GEF resources
It is positive that GEF 5 is allowing greater flexibility for access by small island states to GEF resources. We would like to see these initiatives continue and accelerate.  Dr Ishii - SPREP greatly looks forward to your leadership of GEF.  We appreciate the clear vision you have set out for the future of GEF and we stand to partner with you in these efforts.” 

 Dr Ishii has been at the helm of the GEF Secretariat for two months.  At the breakfast meeting she outlined her four key visions she had for the GEF, these being – the GEF must remain an innovator; must remain a champion of the Global Commons; must remain the partner of choice for environmental benefits and; must remain a catalyst in the evolving architecture of environmental finance.

“I see a lot of challenges, but also see a lot of opportunities too,” said Dr. Ishii.

“We have successes but need to continue these, we don’t have all the answers but we do have commitment for ‘on the ground’ achievements.”

A number of queries and concerns were raised by the Pacific delegates at the breakfast meeting during the question and answer session that was led by comments from the Minister for Local Government, Housing, Urban Development and Environment – Col. Samuela Saumatua.

“GEF must remain the partner of choice, but I ask you that we work together as partners in environment projects.  We work together against biodiversity loss and climate change, while you provide the funds, and we provide the tools and labour.  We work together in partnership, it’s the Pacific Way.”

The breakfast was attended by delegates from Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru and Samoa along with members from SPREP and the GEF Secretariat.

Pacific Island Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas announced at UN Conference

18 October 2012, CBD COP 11, Hyderabad India – The 9th Pacific Island Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas was announced during the Pacific Voyage Side Event in Hyderabad, India.

The 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity was the venue for the special event.

The Minister for Local Government, Housing, Urban Development and Environment, Col. Samuela Saumatua announced the event which will be hosted in Fiji in 2013.

 “This is a premier conservation event which happens every 4-5 years in the Pacific since the first conference in 1975….Fiji is proud to host this event to showcase our unique biodiversity and the actions taken to conserve it.”

The theme of the 9th conference is on “Natural Solutions: Building Resilience for a Changing Pacific”.  It reflects the role of ecosystem services as natural solutions to the threats of climate change while developing community resilience through sustainable development of natural and physical resources. 

Fiji is a fitting backdrop to the conference.  It is host to a unique ecological lattice threading and weaving together large expanses of coastal wetlands and mangroves; seagrass and algal beds, mudflats, lagoons; and a large diverse array of coral reefs. 

 The Fiji Islands contain almost 40% of intact forest with some of the riches natural communities of all the oceanic islands of the Pacific. The island of Kadavu has the highest number of endemic birds per land area in the world while the island of Taveuni has large expanses of forest from ridge to reef. Many species and higher taxa of flora and fauna are endemic to Fiji.

“Encompassed within this vibrant ecological framework are over 390 coral species in a complex coral system housing over 1200 varieties of fish and a multitude of invertebrates. Mangrove and seagrass habitats act as breeding and feeding grounds for the various species of fish, invertebrates, reptiles and seabirds of this eco-region.”

For more information on the 9th Pacific Island Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas please see the below:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

SPREP and CBD sign a Memorandum of Understanding

L - R David Sheppard SPREP, Dr Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, SCBD

17 October 2012, CBD COP 11, Hyderabad, India - Nature conservation efforts in the Pacific were highlighted during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD).

The signing took place during a special Island life event coordinated by the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) that brought together different Ministers and organisations that work in Islands, to pledge biodiversity commitments.

Setting the scene for the night was the official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

“There is a saying in this region – if you want to go fast you go alone, if you want to go far you go together.  SPREP wants to go far in support of Pacific Island countries.  This is why we are so delighted to be signing this MoU with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity tonight,” said Mr. David Sheppard, the Director-General of SPREP.

“Over the last few years we have been increasing working with the CBD Secretariat on issues such as National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plans, Access and Benefit Sharing, and Programmes of Work on Protected Areas and Island Biodiversity.  In the short term we look forward to working with the SCBD on the key event for the region over the next year – the 9th Pacific Island Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, which will be held in Fiji in November next year.” 

The MoU identifies key priority areas for the Pacific region over the next two years with plans for both organisations to work together to assist the region.  The signing commits SPREP to taking this partnership to the next level and to working for the long term to address biodiversity loss in the Pacific. 

SPREP is an exemplary partner of the SCBD, and it is with great pleasure that I sign a reiteration of our commitment to work together for the Strategic Plan and the Aichi targets. The document signed lists an impressive range of joint activities, in capacity building and planning, in coordination and agenda setting, across many if not most of the programmes of work and targets of our Convention,” said Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, the Executive Secretary of the CBD.

“I invite all of you to step in and support our joint activities, and I invite all regions to learn from lessons and the track record of close cooperation we've built over the years with SPREP. The MOU is just paper, but in this case it is a symbol of ongoing and future work. I look forward to action with SPREP - the word's islands need our fullest collaboration.”