Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Q and A: Update on Rio+20

By Kathleen Leewai, SPREP

L -Sefanaia Nawadra SPREP, Su'a Taniela FFA, Smasoni Sauni FFA

20 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Q & A: Mr. Sefanaia Nawadra, Director of the Environmental Monitoring and Governance Division, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

The provisional approval of a draft text proposed by the Brazilian Government came yesterday after the PrepCom meeting was extended another four days to resolve the text surrounding oceans issues.

The draft text will now be put before world leaders for the Brazil Dialogue Days, scheduled to last for three days, which will result in the final Rio+20 outcomes document.

Mr. Sefanaia Nawadra, Director of the Environmental Monitoring and Governance Division at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) talks about the how the Pacific issues were addressed in the draft text.

Nawadra: When we came to the meeting there were four major issues that we wanted looked at. These were the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) special case, oceans, energy, and health with regards to non-communicable diseases.

Each of these issues has been addressed in the text, some to our liking and others that could do with a bit more work, but in balance I believe we have achieved most of the things we wanted to have in the document.

Q: How have each of the issues been addressed within the text?

Nawadra: There are three paragraphs in the document that specifically retains the special case for SIDS. It encourages the move into implementation and also agrees to have the third International Conference on SIDS, the Barbados+20 as it will be called.

The oceans section takes up nineteen paragraphs out of almost three hundred paragraphs of text, so it’s quite a big portion of the document and a lot of it focuses on the need to implement and to get oceans management right. Despite this, I think there was a bit more that could have been done on this issue.

With energy there are a lot of similarities to the original initiatives that we had, in particular the need to access the energy and the need for renewable energy, as well as the challenges with remoteness and transportation.

In terms of health, the reference to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is in there so that’s a major step for us because NCDs is such a major issue for the Pacific, not only in terms of health alone, but also in terms of sustainable development in relation to the workforce.

Q.  How does the draft text look from the perspective of a regional agency?

Nawadra: One of the things that is encouraging from a regional agency perspective is the call to strengthen the regional and subregional organizations. In the previous declarations out of Johannesburg and the initial Rio conferences, the focus was more on the United Nations (UN) Regional Commissions.

Now the focus is on regional and subregional organizations giving more ownership to regions for the work that needs to be done. I think it also supports the call to the UN and other partners that many of the regions have their own organizations that need to used in implementation activities rather than forming new organizations at the UN level.

Q: How will the document affect the on-the-ground work of sustainable development in the Pacific?

Nawadra: A lot rides on what we do from now until the Barbados+20 meeting because I think the major challenge is to come up with a good implementation plan for SIDS.

It needs to be something that’s not too ambitious, something that has very concrete and focused objectives and activities, and something that is very clear on roles and responsibilities and what should be done by different entities very clearly stated, with a good system of monitoring of how the implementation goes over the period of time.

Q. How was the Pacific side event yesterday at Riocentro?

Nawadra: Our intention for the Pacific side event was to provide a platform for the leaders to be able to address the global community and partners and highlight the various initiatives we have as a region and subregions.

We wanted to have the opportunity for our partners to have some dialogue with them and I think we achieved that.

I was very pleased with how the side event went, especially with the support from the leaders. We had 2 Presidents, one Prime Minister, one Head of a Territory, and a Senior Minister as panelists, plus another President and at least five or six ministers in the audience.

We also had good support from the Indian Ocean region, the Caribbean had one representative there and we had a good number of NGOs and development partners represented, so I think we achieved what we wanted from the side event.

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