2 December 2013, Suva, Fiji - "The traditional opening ceremony for the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas was a culturally inspirational experience, as it was my first time witnessing such an event. The chiefly traditional ceremony included the presenting of mats, a pig and yaqona plant to Fiji's President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, who was the chief guest at the opening of the conference. The President’s speech was inspiring, as he not only called for people at the communtiy level but also various communities to help take action and responsibility in safeguarding our land and sea, not only for the present generation but for the future generation who needs these natural resources just as much as we do. It really hit home as it made me realise that it is not only our leaders' responsibilities to decide how our future pans out, in terms of our environment, but for everyone to think about and take action immediately and not just sit around talking about the problems."
Justine Mannan is a member of the Media Team providing coverage of the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas from 2 to 6 December in Suva, Fiji. This is a partnership between the Fiji National University (FNU), University of the South Pacific (USP), SPREP and Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) whereby a team of 10 journalism students are mentored by senior reporters as they cover the conference. This activity is funded by the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme.