17 October 2007
Conference aims to develop a shared understanding of the needs of islanders and the sustainable use of natural resources
The inextricable link between communities and their natural environment will be the focus of the 8th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, which takes place from 22 to 26 October 2007 in Alotau, Papua New Guinea.
The conference, organised by the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is a key regional meeting of government agencies, NGOs, community-based organisations and donor bodies to discuss and develop a joint vision for conservation in the Pacific islands.
The theme, ‘Conservation serving Communities in a rapidly changing world’, will look at balancing the needs of islanders and the sustainable use of natural resources in conserving the unique Pacific environment. The main objective is to develop a shared understanding of the benefits of nature conservation to island communities. The aim is to secure significant commitments to action by Pacific Island Nations and partners, to review Action Strategy progress and to identify constraints and priorities.
The conference will also feature an open forum for exchange of experiences and sharing best practices. Eleanor Carter, an expert recruited by the Commonwealth Service Abroad Programme (CSAP) of the Commonwealth Secretariat to work with SPREP, is co-organising a side event on National Biodiversity Strategic Action Planning.
“The results of the event will include recommendations for the support role that SPREP and associated organisations like the Secretariat can play in providing technical assistance in the development of the Pacific, its implementation, review and mainstreaming into the future. The results will also be presented to the main conference with the aim of motivating stakeholders to commit to action,” said Ms Carter.
She also made a strong case for preservation, quoting that “nearly 85 per cent of the main island of New Guinea is covered with tropical rainforest, containing vegetation that is a combination of Asian and Australasian species.”
Julius Kaberere, an adviser with the Secretariat’s Governance and Institutional Development Division, which has been instrumental in the implementation of this project, stated: “Environmental issues lack a major platform in most countries and by supporting SPREP in providing that platform in the region; we are elaborating the Commonwealth focus on the environment.”
The Action Strategy for Nature Conservation in the Pacific Islands (2003-2007) is the Pacific’s overarching framework for biodiversity conservation. It provides a broad overview for conservation in the Pacific, involving partnerships between conservationists, governments, the private sector and civil society. The Action Strategy was developed at the previous nature conservation conference held in Cook Islands in 2002.
“This conference in Alotau will review the outcomes of the Action Strategy, support the development of a regional framework for the next five years, mobilise resources and support for conservation activities, and discuss gaps and opportunities for ongoing conservation work,” said Kate Brown-Vitolio, SPREP’s Action Strategy Manager.
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