By Kathleen Leewai, SPREP
11 June 2012 - Messages from five Pacific Island Leaders will be the highlight of a Pacific Side Event at the Rio+20 Conference.
Jointly run by regional UN agencies based in the Pacific and Pacific island countries and territories, this side event at the Rio+20 Conference aims to highlight two main issues for the Pacific region; to ensure oceans are firmly on the agenda and to maintain the special case for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
The special case for SIDS has been in force since the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and was reinforced in Johannesburg 10 years later in 2002.
This is an important issue for the Pacific to ensure this remains as it allows for the understanding that the challenges of sustainable development faced by SIDS remain the same as before, and in some cases have even grown bigger over time.
Oceans issues are being brought forward at the Pacific side event by highlighting the Pacific Oceanscape, the first regional initiative that looks at oceans governance and management.
“We recently appointed the first Pacific Islands Oceans Commissioner, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat,” said Mr. Sefanaia Nawadra, Director of the Environmental Monitoring and Governance Division at Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
“We really want to showcase this as an alternative approach that fits in with the green economy approach being brought forward in Rio.”
There will also be an opportunity for the Micronesian Challenge countries to showcase their initiatives that have been put in place over recent years to set up and manage marine protected areas, as well as initiatives from Melanesian countries, put together by the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), in the areas of environment and climate change, particularly climate change mitigation and ecosystems-based adaptation.
"The whole idea is to bring forward these issues and allow for some discussion, not only amongst Pacific Island Countrie and Territories but in particular with our partners, the NGO community, the donor partners and others,” says Mr. Nawadra.
The Rio+20 Pacific side event will be held on the 19th of June, 2012, at the RioCentro Convention Centre, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.