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. Its’ Neil’s first time to attend a Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
"Time is flying by here in India - lots to do and not much time to do it in and the COP has yet to really kick off! Saturday and Sunday has seen the SPREP team working flat out getting resources ready, setting up our display booth and finding our feet (or more accurately meeting rooms!), and networking with other delegates and key partner organisations - always good fun catching up with friends, putting names to faces and meeting new people.
We have had several preparatory meetings with Pacific countries, other island states from around the world and partner organisations such as GLISPA to discuss messages that have focused on the threatened fragile ecosystems of island states, particularly from the impacts of climate change and invasive species, and the need for continued and sustainable support from donors and development partners to protect these ecosystems.
One point everyone seems to agree on is the friendly and supportive nature of local support staff - this applies to the hotel and conference stuff. One thing I’m not sure I'll ever get used to is the level of wait service - there is a real reluctance to allow people to service themselves food or pour their own drinks - having someone dish my food up for me just doesn't feel right - but regardless everyone is super friendly and always trying to that little bit extra to help out, it should be wonderful help over the coming weeks with our heavy workloads."