Neil Walkinshaw from NZ is the SPREP Conference Coordinator, working at SPREP to assist in setting up the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, to be held in Fiji 2013. It’s Neil’s first time to attend a Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
"Week two of the CBD COP11 in Hyderabad, India is now in full swing. The first noticeable difference of this week is the dramatic increase in number of people present. It is certainly a lot slower moving around now, just walking between locations can be a challenge – it brings into focus the compact nature of the venue and limited locations for meetings - however the increase in numbers also bring more variety and colour to the event, still not sure its 15,000 delegates though.
This week sees the start of the high level segment (HLS) with many of the ministers arriving Monday and today. HLS delegates are given pins to wear to distinguish them and allow access to specially designated events. The SPREP banner will be raised by David Sheppard and Stuart Chape at these events. Both were given colourful peacock badges – you can see me trying Stuart’s one on in the photo!
SPREP and Pacific delegates continue to attend the main working group sessions and key side events focussed on Pacific issues and discussions. We are also preparing for the SPREP side event this Thursday, lots to prepare and get done.
Today has also seen David Sheppard, on behalf of SPREP, sign an MoU with UNEP to cement this relationship and secure more global attention and resources to assist with the preservation of biodiversity in the Pacific.
Today has been a rather action packed day – on top of this MoU we have the opening event of the plenary session of the HLS – motivating speeches by the Prime Minister of India and other officials were made pushing for agreement and commitment from countries to achieve the Acihi Targets. Jill Key also assisted GLISPA facilitate its day time side event on Island Bright spots.
Tonight brings yet more positive attention for the Pacific. Palau will receive a World Future Council Award for its leadership in implementing policies that are conserving their biodiversity and setting them on a path to achieve their Acihi Targets – David Sheppard and myself will be attending this ceremony to offer our support.From this event we head to the GLISPA evening side event celebrating Island leadership and commitment to conservation and sustainability. This event starts with David signing his second MoU of the day with SCBD to further link SPREP and the Pacific with key international organisations – this can only be a good thing.
Outside of COP11, the SPREP team managed to find a small amount of time to explore some of the sites around Hyderabad. I ended up visiting a couple of ancient forts that provided panoramic views of the Hyderabad and the country side – simply magic. We also stopped by a couple of ancient temples that, despite being tourist attractions, are still in use every day by local people, a very interesting experience. No sightseeing trip would be complete without a wildlife component – I managed to see squirrels, monkeys, turtles, lizards and camels…now I just need to see a snake (from a distance thanks!) and an elephant…couple of days to go so fingers crossed!"