Biodiversity & Ecosystem Management Headlines

The Pacific region prepares its One Voice to protect our environment

16 August 2016, Apia, Samoa - Pacific unity is on display this week as Oceania come together to achieve stronger outcomes at two key global environment conferences this year.

The Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora are both holding Conferences of the Parties (COP) at the end of this year.

The Pacific and Oceania Parties are working this week on their One Voice strategy for the global events to protect our Pacific biodiversity, the backbone of island livelihoods.

The Pacific island region has recorded the highest rate of extinction of bird species however the region has also had success in turning back the tide of extinction in protecting whales, turtles, plants and other species.
 
IMG 6235LRThe participants of the preparatory meeting for the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Photo: SPREP

"I think we must also be mindful of some of the initiatives and successes that we have been able to achieve in the Pacific and be positive and move forward on these initiatives," said Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa.

"We must always be mindful that if we do want progress in our region then we have to work together and take our messages together to our global meetings."

This sentiment was emphasised by the Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), who also stressed the importance of strategising in unity.

"SPREP is extremely pleased to see the Pacific islands becoming better organised, better informed and a more influential group at COP and related meetings including other international meetings. The Pacific Voyage: One Voice has been an effective mechanism to coordinate and deliver our Pacific messages to the world."

The meeting this week brings together parties to the two Conventions, which are represented by
Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu that are Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, with Tonga having submitted its instrument to join CITES.
 
IMG 6168Mr. Sefanaia Nawadra, Head of the UNEP Pacific Office, Mr. Kosi Latu, Director General - SPREP, and Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment for the Government of Samoa. Photo: SPREP

The CITES COP17 is held next month in Johannesburg and is marked to be the largest and most critical meetings in the 43 years history of the Convention. It will mark a significant milestone for SPREP and its members with Fiji's initiative to propose the listing on Appendix 2, all of the nine species of Mobula Rays – seeking the support of 52 countries for this proposal.

Appendix 2 lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade is closely controlled.

"Over the years, the Secretariat has received requests to allow Parties to meet as a region in advance of the COP to share information and exchange views on topics that were important for the region. Such pre COP meetings have taken place in some regions in the past, thanks to the individual initiatives of various partners," said Mr John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES.

"This is however the first time ever that the Secretariats of CITES and CBD have joined forces to roll out coordinated regional pre-COP meetings across four regions – and colleagues, there could be no better time for these preparatory meetings than this year."

As for the CBD COP13, that will be held in Cancun Mexico in December this year providing Parties with the opportunity to do a reality check on progress made towards achieving the Aichi Targets, a set of goals that parties are striving towards to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020.

The Pacific Parties to the CBD have made commitments to the Aichi Targets, including Target 12, which states that "by 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained".

"As well as helping to build better understanding between CITES and CBD by convening in a common setting, one session of this meeting will be devoted to specifically look at synergies between the two conventions and among the biodiversity-related conventions more generally," read the statement from Mr Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, the Executive Secretary of the CBD.
 
IMG 6220Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment for the Government of Samoa, Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, Ms. Jinko Shimura, CBD, Ms. Chantal Robichaud, CBD, Mr. Stuart Chape, SPREP, Ms. Haruko Okusu, CITES, Mr. Sefanaia Rawadra, UNEP and Mr. Kosi Latu, SPREP.
Photo: SPREP

"We hope that delegates, with your varied and accumulated national experience will be able to contribute ideas and direct attention to those areas that can benefit from more integrated and coherent approach, and to strengthening synergies among the conventions, including in the new global framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals."

The joint preparatory meeting was also highlighted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

"This Pacific preparatory meeting is one way to help build the capacity of countries to effectively engage in the governance of Multilateral Environment Agreement's," said Mr Sefanaia Nawadra, the Head of the UNEP Pacific Office.

"The capacity to implement multi-lateral environment agreements continues to be an issue in all our countries and will continue to be so, we have a long term relationship with SPREP through the ACP MEA's project which helps countries in carrying out the MEA's. There is possibly a phase three which will see continued support for countries."

The Oceania and Pacific regional joint preparatory meeting for the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the associate meetings of the Parties to the Protocols of the Convention on Biological Diversity is hosted at the SPREP Campus in Samoa from 15 – 19 August, 2016.

This is an initiative of CITES in partnership with the CBD and SPREP with financial support from the European Union.
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