|Peter Thomas - Terra Mar Consulting Director|
6 December 2013 Suva Fiji - By Steve Pogonowski:- Local community organisations should use the refined Action Strategy for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific Islands Region 2014- 2020 to frame their conservation programs and aspirations, the review's architect said.
Pacific Island country and territory representatives, non-government organisations and other attendees at the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas have given input into the review in line with common themes from this week's sessions.
Members of the consultation meetings had suggested the strategy be renamed as the Regional Framework for Nature Conservation in the Pacific Islands Region.
Tierra Mar Consulting director Peter Thomas, who is leading a review into the strategy, said strategy objectives have been updated to reflect conference topics such as traditional knowledge and biodiversity awareness.
Objective 1 reaffirms awareness of biodiversity and conservation across the region and Objective 6 strengthens the linkage between science, policy and indigenous knowledge.
Mr. Thomas said community conservation groups on the ground in the Pacific should see the strategy as a guiding document.
"At that level, they would use (the strategy) to try to ensure that any partnership they went into took into account the values they hold strongly. In the hands of a local organisation, it's a very powerful tool," Mr Thomas said.
"What they may well need is someone to interpret it for them, to show them the important principles that apply to their project or program."
Mr Thomas said the feedback sessions during the conference and in previous meetings across the Pacific countries and territories had been invaluable.
Some of the messages the review committee heard throughout the week included: the protection of cultural heritage and traditional knowledge, broadening of conservation paradigm to include faith-based groups and the private sector, and the need to ensure conservation programmes contribute to improving food security and help alleviate poverty.
"The new 9th principle has been added to call on national and international partners to promote resilience and sustainability of biocultural resources," Mr Thomas said.
Review committee members will also ensure the strategy is in line with the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Targets and would eventually marry with the five year review of the 2010-2015 Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme Action Plan.