Saturday 16 June 2012

Oceans Special: The Oceans Day at Rio+20

Article by SPREP/Kathleen Leewai, Intern, SPREP

“We all worked hard in the last months to ensure that Rio+20 gave due recognition to ocean and coastal sustainability. But recognition is not enough. We need actions and we need strong commitments from all. We need a last push so that this summit really will be well remembered by future generations.” -  Dr Wendy Watson-Wright, Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO

Pacific Oceanscape, a Pacific framework to protect, manage, maintain and sustain
the cultural and  natural integrity of the Pacific ocean

16 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The Pacific is the world’s largest ocean, covering nearly one-third of the Earth’s surface, making it a strong feature of the Oceans Day in Rio de Janeiro today.

“Advancing Oceans, Coasts, and Island States at Rio+20 and Beyond,” is the theme of the all-day event that brings together high level government representatives, international organizations, NGO’s, industry and the science community to discuss a range of issues impacting our Oceans.

Tuiloma Neroni Slade, the Pacific Oceanscape Commissioner and Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat co-chaired today’s event along with Dr Biliana Cicin-Sain, President of the Global Ocean Forum and Dr Wendy Watson-Wright, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

“20 years ago in this place we sought a generational change and pledged solemnly a better future. Our determination now is for a future we want, a future of green growth in a blue world," said Tuiloma Slade at the opening.

"Let there be no illusion about it for these challenges are ones of global magnitude and complexity and deserve no less than global attention.

This is our purpose, this is the reason we are here."

The purpose of today’s event was to reflect on what has and has not been done to achieve ocean related sustainable development commitments and rekindle the political will to implement new and old commitments. It was also to showcase pledges for action and to consider the challenges and opportunities for implementing an Oceans package from the Rio+20.

For the Pacific region, applying a blue economy in a green world is a key message at UN Conference on Sustainable Development. With such a large ocean, it is home to many of the valuable resources of the region, with our economy based around the Pacific Ocean and its sea life. This was recognized by Tuiloma Slade:

“Nature, in her creation, has allotted our islands a vast Pacific ocean, and with it a huge responsibility. It is this ocean that provides Pacific community cultural and historical identity and debt. It is the source of abiding sustenance, though occasional we have overwhelmed unbidden with our destructive powers.”

A Rio Ocean Declaration will be produced at the end of the Oceans Day. This will be presented at the Sustainable Development Dialogues on Oceans which will present recommendations to the Rio+20 High-Level Ministerial Segment.

The challenge has been made to the World Leaders for a Rio+20 outcome that will save our Ocean, our Pacific heritage and identity. This was reiterated by Dr Wendy Watson-Wright today in a passionate plea that set the tone for Oceans Day at Rio+20.

“As the world will be watching heads of state endorse the Rio+20 outcome document it is not too late to remind nations that are gathering here in Rio that oceans protection is not just an environmental byword, it is also an economic and a social one, since as we know millions of jobs and industries such as tourism fisheries and others depend on a healthy ocean.

We all worked hard in the last months to ensure that Rio+20 gave due recognition to ocean and coastal sustainability. But recognition is not enough. We need actions and we need strong commitments from all. We need a last push so that this summit really will be well remembered by future generations.”

The Ocean’s Day had 9 different sessions with over 30 panelists. Along with Tuiloma Neroni Slade, other presenters from the Pacific region included Su’a N.F Tanielu, Director-General of the Forum Fisheries Agency, Mr. Luke Daunivalu, Deputy Permanent Representative Permanent Mission of Fiji to the United Nations and Dr. Russell Howorth, Director, Applied Geoscience and Technology Division, Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

Message to World Leaders at Rio+20 from the youth of today

By Brianna Fruean, 14 years, Samoa

16 June, 2012, Rio de Janeiro -

Simon Matafai, NZ Youth Representative (On left)

"If you don’t invest in Youth then you are investing in failure. World Leaders need to develop robust and binding ambitious frameworks that will not sabotage future generations concerning sustainable development, from everything from Climate Change to Social Justice.

World Leaders need to be robust and be radical.

They need to put aside other interests, especially in terms of financial interests in private sectors. They need to do what they know deep down inside is right for the next generation.

World Leaders also need to realize they are human themselves, because to prick them, they’ll probably bleed, they too are human just like the rest of us, their decisions to secure the future of this planet is not only for their own survival but for everyone.

I pose a question to world leaders, if they are not ready to die then why do they think us in the Pacific are ready to die? Why do they think our culture is ready to die, our land ready to die?

 Climate Change affects our own existence.

I want to challenge world leaders to stand up and create a platform to secure the future.

There is too much talk and not enough walk. We want to see something tangible come out of this meeting that will benefit future generations."

Anam Gill, Pakistan (Fourth from the left)

"After 20 years we have gathered again in Rio to talk about an outcome of this meeting to make implemented decisions for a better world. So instead of a deadlock, all the world leaders gathered should have a consensus and we should come up with some solutions to this important issue that the world is fading which is important for our future.

It’s about time that we forget about our differences and we should talk about our commonality to come up with a solution, because it’s very important for us young people who are looking forward to this meeting and it’s outcomes.

We are hoping that this is not going to be a failure but rather a success. So I wish the world leaders will act accordingly and think positively to open their minds and hearts."

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.

A Green and Blue economy explanation for youth by Brianna Fruean

Ms. Brianna Fruean, 14 years, Samoa

16 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - A green economy is a topic being discussed in Rio+20.

We will not be able to have sustainable development without the resources that nature provides, our economy depends on the capital resources found on green land.

As the Earth has been affected by acts of man, the resources it provides are becoming scarcer. Shortage of valuable resources such as water affects the entire globe and is a great concern to all countries. This is why we are trying to promote a green economy. We are trying not only to save these liabilities but also creating jobs to cater to our green land. These jobs are known as green jobs.
When it comes to the Pacific our valuable resources come from the blue ocean, because we are small islands we depend on our ocean to provide food and much more. We call this a Blue economy. An economy based around the ocean and its sea life.

Both Blue and Green economy are based around improved human wellbeing and equity while at the same time building a sustainable development.

A green economy could provide 15-60 million jobs around the world and do wonders to poverty. This is needed for a sustainable future and healthy planet. Hopefully Rio+20 can activate a Green Economy.

Pacific welcome reiteration of special case for SIDS in draft text

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS

16 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) have a reason to celebrate now that their ‘special case’ has been reaffirmed in the draft text at the close of the PrepCom meeting Friday in Rio de Janeiro.
Solomon Islands Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Colin Beck was ‘upbeat but cautious.

“The issue now is what has been mentioned in terms of implementation. If we cannot implement what we have agreed to 20 years ago, we now need to step up commitments to means of implementation.

“We have not come here to create new principles but to address new emerging issues and to take board where the gaps are in the last 20 years. The litmus test is where and how far commitments to implementation will go. This will more or less determine the success of the Rio meeting, said Ambassador Beck

The special case for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was first agreed to in 1992 and reconfirmed in Johannesburg in 2002. It acknowledged that the global blue print for SIDS remain the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) and the Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of BPOA.

On Brazil’s initiative to introduce a new text Saturday to resolve the contentious issues, Ambassador Beck was cautious with his response.

“I think there is a lot of good faith in this process. Brazil has assured everyone they will use what has been negotiated as a basis for negotiations. However, for me the key question is in the management of these negotiations by the host country.’

After a marathon round of informal sessions which spilled over into late Friday night, delegates were informed at midnight that Brazil will introduce a new text Saturday covering major contentious issues not favorably dealt with in the six months of PrepCom negotiations.
Despite assurances of transparency and inclusiveness in the process, some member states do not trust Brazil’s move.

By Friday evening, agreement on most of the thematic issues in the draft text had been ‘cleaned’ – according to Sha Zukang, the Secretary General of the Rio+20 conference.

“As we entered the final hours of negotiations, we have not reached where we want to be. We have two and half days to make come up with an agreement, the whole world is watching us.

“What is needed now is political leadership to steer the process forward, said Zukang, who is also the head of the United Nations Economic and Social Council Affairs (DESA).

Brazil now takes over the final leg of the Rio+20 negotiations – convening the first round of talks on Saturday (16 June).

“We will closely study the proposed text from the PrepCom and will propose a consolidated text in the hope a final draft will be ready for world leader by 18 June.

“We can’t play around with this deadline and I urge all delegates to complete all the work by Monday afternoon, said Brazil’s representative to the negotiations reiterated Friday night, said the Brazilian delegate at the last PrepCom plenary session.

Solomon Islands cautious over negotiations progress

Mr. Evan Wasuka, One Television, Solomon Islands

"We have not lived up to so many of the commitments we made in 1992." - Solomon Islands Ambassador to the United Nations, Colin Beck.

15 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - As the clock winds down on the final day of prepratory negotiations, Solomon Islands' Ambassador to the United Nations, Collin Beck says positive progress has been made at Rio+20.

He spoke to Evan Wasuka about the developments during the last day of negotiations in Brazil.

BECK: The negotiations on this, the final day have picked up speed in such a way that there is now a sense of urgency amongst all the delegates. We are seeing brackets being closed on a number of issues, certainly on the issue of interest to Pacific countries, in terms of Climate Change and Oceans.

The most important issue that is still being discussed is the Means Of Implementation.

I think this is the heart and soul of everything that has been agreed otherwise, we can agree to do so many things but without technology transfer its not possible to do anything. That aspect they are now trying to find progress to address that. There are some proposals still being discussed, we still have a couple of hours to do that.

So far things are on track, but this is multilateral negotiations, it can look good but something else happens, all it needs is one state to be difficult on one issue and everything will collapse.

Everybody has come to the realisation that we need to do something, to know that failure, all the investment in talking will come to a waste.

The world is watching so everybody is trying to produce and be constructive. The unfortunate thing is that it’s happening on the final day of negotiations.

WASUKA: What's the mood like with Pacific members, how do they feel as the negotiations head towards closure?

BECK: Basically its cautious, while we have achieved certain, progress on important sectors, the whole document rests on strategic partnership.

If we don't get everybody onboard on all issues, then we are pushing ourselves to a point where our future is not that clear.

Things have changed to what they have agreed to 20 years ago in 1992. We have not lived up to so many of the commitments we made in 1992, we have not lived up to many of the obligations, now we have arrived at a point where we are on the boundary of limits of planetary health.

WASUKA: Pacific Island countries came to Rio with a number of issues, such as Oceans, special recognition for Small Islands Development States and Climate Change. Which of those have been accepted in the negotiations?

BECK: While we have achieved certain progress on important sectors, its better to see, the Rio outcome holistically rather than picking and choosing.

So far having achievements in focused areas, Pacific Small Islands Developing States have been pushing for to have stronger language is positive. But the work is not yet done. Even after all this investment if we still do not do much on trying to limit energy, or trying to limit deforestation then the ocean acidification will continue to increase.

WASUKA: Are you confident that it will be completed by today?

BECK: I feel positive that we are going in the right direction but I feel we need to go further. The biggest chapter of everything is the Means Of Implementation. Whatever we achieve in Oceans and other sectors, if there is no means of doing anything, there is no technology transfer, then it looks good on paper but it doesn't have any teeth.

Fiji and PSIDS push for special case recognition in Rio+20 declaration

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS in Rio de Janeiro

15 June 2012 Rio de Janeiro - Fiji and other Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) here in Rio de Janeiro are pushing for special recognition of their ‘unique and particular vulnerabilities’.

The ‘special case’ of SIDS is reflected in three paragraphs of the draft text now negotiated by 190 countries at the Rio+20 conference, currently underway in the Brazilian city, host of a similar conference, 20 years ago.

Fiji’s head of delegation to the PrepCom meeting, Peter Wise told PACNEWS there appears to be general agreement in principle on the recognition of the special case of SIDS, which covers most of the small island nations of the Pacific.

The draft text calls for continued recognition of SIDS special status in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities, including their small size, remoteness, narrow resources and exposure to global environment challenges and external economic shocks.

If the three paragraphs are endorsed, a third international conference for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States will be convened in 2014.

Mr. Wise said Fiji and Samoa have put up their hands to host this major SIDS conference in two years time.

“That is another issue we are following closely here in Rio. If the paragraphs recognising the special case of SIDS are reaffirmed in the outcomes statement, then we will await a decision on hosting of this major international conference.”

Support for Fiji and other PSIDS has come from the G77 and China group, of which most of them belong to in the negotiations. The European Union has come on board to support the proposed meetings of SIDS but the United States remains to be convinced of its necessity.

On the hosting of the conference, it is now the turn of the Pacific since the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean have had their turn, in Barbados (1994) and Mauritius (2005) respectively.

“Fiji and Samoa have expressed their interest to host this meeting,” said Mr Wise.

The other key issue the Fiji delegation in Rio are keenly following is the issue of ‘blue economy’ - the sustainable management and equitable sharing of marine and ocean resources as an integral component of the ‘green economy.’ The blue economy prioritises fisheries and oceans.

Fiji’s delegation is comprised of the Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Housing and Environment, Taina Tagicakibau, Fiji’s Ambassador to Brazil, Cama Tuiloma, Director of Environment, Jope Davetanivalu, Principal Planning Officer, Paula Cirikiyasawa and Fiji’s Counsellor at the UN Mission in New York, Luke Daunivalu. There are also representatives from business, women, youth, non-governmental organisations and the media.

Also represented at the Rio+20 conference is Silio Lalaqila from Natewa in Cakaudrove, to receive the prestigious UNDP Equator Prize 2012. Lalaqila is representing the Sisi Initiative Site Support Group in Natewa, a community based Important Bird Area (IBA) established in 2006 to preserve bird and wildlife in Natewa. The project is being assisted by Bird Life International.

Rio+20, a historic event

By Evan Wasuka, One Television, Solomon Islands

OHRLLS supports Pacific nations from Wasuka Media on Vimeo.

15 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS) is among the various UN offices at the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil.

The OHRLLS is tasked with providing support to SIDS, LDCs and landlocked countries during negotiations.  Solomon Islander, Peter Kenilorea Junior is the body's chief focal point at the Rio+20 meeting. 

He says the outcome of the conference will set the agenda on sustainable development for at least the next 10 years.

‘Cautious optimism’ in Rio, as Brazil takes leadership of negotiations

By Ms. Makereta Komai, Editor, PACNEWS
Secretary General of Rio+20 Conference, Nikhil Seth.

15 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Hours before negotiations concluded Friday, there was an ‘air of cautious optimism’ at the Rio+20 conference as negotiators from more than 190 countries battled against time to reach a consensus on an agreed text for world leaders to endorse next week.

The proposed outcome document, titled ‘The Future We Want’ hopes to express the commitment of all nations to practical measures to implement sustainable development.

United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon described sustainable development as ‘the balance between economic growth and the needs of a growing population against the ecological necessity to conserve the planet’s most precious resources – land, air and water.’

By Friday afternoon, 28 percent of the draft text had been agreed to by Parties, said Secretary General of Rio+20 Conference, Nikhil Seth.

“The statistics do not really capture the work currently done in the cluster groups as many packages are being finalised and turned into text language.

“There is agreement here that it is in all our interest – all the Parties present in Rio – to bring closure to the negotiations which has been going on for the past six months.

Seth said facilitators of the different splinter groups have gone out of their way to try and bring consensus in the different thematic areas.

“Each facilitator is using different approach to reach agreement. One of these was the group on Sustainable Development and Means of Implementation (MOI), whose facilitator allowed discussions on a new text introduced by a group within the negotiation. It was successful because it was able to advance conclusion on some critical issues”, said Seth.

Brazil, who takes over the chair of the session from Friday night, will attempt to ensure the process in the next few days is transparent and inclusive as possible before a final declaration is endorsed by world leaders next Friday (22 June) here in Rio de Janeiro, two decades after they agreed to Agenda 21.

“It will be up to the Brazilian Presidency to decide on how it will take the process forward – whether it wants to continue with the current informal groups to achieve the expected goal of a declaration at the end of Rio +20 Conference.”

Agenda 21 was adopted by 178 countries in 1992 at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992.

Fears of a repeat of climate talks in Copenhagen in 2010 was brushed aside by Seth, who insists that consensus was only achieved in the very last hours of the negotiations in Rio, in 1992.

“Here the idea is not a legally binding agreement but a declaration on global agreement on sustainable development. So I think Copenhagen may not be a good comparison, he told journalists.

At the end of the first week, the Secretariat for the Rio+20 conference reported that just over 28,700 delegates were registered for the two weeks meeting. More than 7,400 were accredited as Member State delegates while 2,663 were registered as Non-Governmental Organisations and 2,270 journalists.

More than 130 heads of state and government will be in Rio next week to push for a global action for change.

Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said success is not guaranteed.

“To secure our world for future generations — and these are indeed the stakes — we need the partnership and full engagement of global leaders, from rich nations and poor, small countries and large.

“This agenda is for national leaders to decide, in line with the aspirations of their people. If I were to offer advice as U.N. secretary general, it would be to focus on three “clusters” of outcomes that will mark Rio+20 as the watershed that it should be.

“Rio+20 should inspire new thinking — and action. Clearly, the old economic model is breaking down. In too many places, growth has stalled. Jobs are lagging. Gaps are growing between rich and poor, and we see alarming scarcities of food, fuel and the natural resources on which civilization depends.

Because so many of today’s challenges are global, they demand a global response, said the UN Secretary General.

“Now is not the moment for narrow squabbling. This is a moment for world leaders and their people to unite in common purpose around a shared vision of our common future — the future we want.”