Environmental Governance & Monitoring Headlines

Strong support for State of the Environment reporting in the Cook Islands and beyond

Representatives from SPREP facilitated a special workshop with key environmental stakeholders from the Cook Islands to pave the way for the commencement of a State of the Environment (SOE) assessment for the island group.

This important initiative is part of a larger body of work, being led by SPREP's Environmental Monitoring and Governance division, to develop and implement a regional SOE programme for all Pacific island countries and territories.

At the one-day workshop, held in Rarotonga in February, representatives from the Cook Islands Government and local NGOs worked with SPREP and the National Environment Service to develop a plan and outline for the 2014 report.

During the workshop, agreement was made on the themes and indicators to be used in the reporting process. These included: culture and heritage; atmosphere and climate; inland waters; marine; land and agriculture; and built environment and biodiversity.

Joseph Brider  NES in working group
Participants at the Cook Islands SOE workshop in February, 2014.

SPREP's Environmental Reporting and Monitoring Adviser, Mr Mark Graham, explains that as part of the SOE reporting framework, these themes and indicators will be assessed from a variety of different data sources:

"The health of each of these indicators will be examined individually, and then combined, to paint a picture of the overall condition of the Cooks Islands' environment and natural resources. The end result is best described as a report card on the health of their environment and its prognosis for the future."

In 2012-13, SPREP worked with Samoa's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Maryland University Centre for Environmental Science to prepare an SOE Report for Samoa along with the country's first ever Environment Report Card.

Following this, SPREP worked closely with the Fiji Government and Department of Environment, and other stakeholders, on Fiji's first SOE assessment in over 20 years. The resulting report will be launched later this year.

After the Cook Islands, the latest SPREP member country to express interest in embarking on this process is Vanuatu. Mr Graham believes that the strong interest from countries and territories in the region reflects the value of this reporting and monitoring framework:

"Having a clear understanding of the current status of a given environment makes it easier to develop policies and plans that will conserve environmental resources for future generations. Importantly, the SOE framework also supports national planning processes and contributes simplified regional and international reporting requirements."

SPREP receives support for activities related to environmental monitoring and governance from a variety of sources, including the Australian Government, the European Union and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

For further information about SPREP's regional SOE programme, please contact Mark Graham.
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