Saturday, 16 June 2012

Pacific project on environment agreements to continue

By Kathleen Leewai, SPREP

Side event at Rio+20
16 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Twenty one millon euro has been committed for the second phase of a project to build the capacity of the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to build capacity in relation to multi-lateral environment agreements.

This was announced at an event at the Rio+20.

The Pacific region is now towards the end of Phase one of the project which is coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). The activities under this project have helped Pacific island countries strengthen negotiation skills at conferences that are targeted at international environment agreements.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) was part of a panel of presenters speaking at the Rio+20 side event.

Organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the event showcased the European Union-funded project for capacity building related to Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) in African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries.

Three regional institutions were identified and strengthened to become regional hubs to carry out the activities of this project; the African Union Commission (AU), the Caribbean Community Secretariiat (CARICOM), and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

Materials produced under the project
 Speaking at the event, Mr. Sefanaia Nawadra, Director of the Environmental Monitoring and Governance Division at SPREP reported on the activities and achievements of the Pacific Hub from the first phase of the project, which he said came at the right time.

“It came just after the countries finished the first phase of their National Capacity Assessments (NCAs), so the recommendations out of these formed a lot of the activities that were undertaken during the project.”

The Pacific Hub project activities were conducted in fourteen Pacific Island Countries, all of whom are members of SPREP, plus East Timor.

A key area focused on by the Pacific Hub was negotiations and information management with negotiations training workshops conducted in nine countries.

A product of these negotiations training sessions was a negotiations booklet, compiled from lessons learnt and common issues brought up during in-country training workshops.

Nawadra also mentioned how the project gave SPREP the opportunity to strengthen the Pacific region’s engagement at international conferences such as Conferences of Parties (COPs) for United Nations conventions on climate change, biodiversity, and land degradation.

“One of the things that we found particularly useful was the ability, under the project, to host a number of regional preparatory meetings for a number of COPs.”
Delegates from Palau and FSM at the UNCCD COP 10, 2011

“This gave us the opportunity to not only fully brief individual countries, but also allow them to have time to sit down before the actual COP to come up with joint positions within the region.”

The overall objective of the ACP/MEAs project is to build and enhance the capacity of ACP countries to better comply with, implement and enforce MEAs and related commitments to address adverse effects of climate change, chemicals, loss of biodiversity, drought, land degradation, and other threats to the environment.

It is a four-year project, funded by the European Union, from March 2009 until February 2013, with a second phase scheduled to start in May 2013.

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