Wednesday 20 June 2012

President of Kiribati appeals for global leadership on management of high seas

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor

19 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The President of Kiribati, Anote Tong has urged Parties at the Rio+20 conference currently underway in the Brazilian city to show leadership on the management of the high seas, also known as areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).

In addition, the Kiribati leader appealed to Parties to agree to negotiate an implementation agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to address the effective management of the high seas.

Key issues to be addressed in the implementation agreement include the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), access to marine genetic resources and environmental impact assessments.

President Tong said the world was watching to see if the Rio+20 Outcomes document will reflect the Pacific’s concern and interests in managing areas beyond the region’s exclusive economic zone.

“The high seas represent more than 60 percent of the planet’s surface and are under threat. We as stewards of the Pacific Islands and ocean region, our interests transcend the limits of EEZs. We look to the global community to support effective management of high seas."

According to the draft text, now provisionally approved, all Parties recognise the importance of the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. Parties commit to urgently address the issue of conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity through the development of an international instrument under UNCLOS.

The ‘Future We Want’ draft text was endorsed by Parties Tuesday, awaiting the final approval by Heads of States, who are now in Rio de Janeiro for the High Level Segment.

President Tong used the analogy of journey in a canoe to describe the regional initiative of Pacific Oceanscape.

“It is a journey whose time has come to ensure our ocean recovers and survives so that in turn we may do so, because our future is intrinsically linked to the health of our ocean."

“The Rio process might also be described as akin to a voyage - one that for twenty years has taken many of us all over the world, one that has weathered both fair and hard winds of change, and a voyage which traverses all oceans and called at all lands on our planet.

Looking back 20 years ago, President Tong said there are a lot to be proud of but there is much more to be learnt, to take stock of to guide us in our way forward.

“This coming week at Rio is an opportunity to adjust our course and re-equip this voyage for the planet’s survival. Kiribati and my fellow Pacific Island states are here to do just that."

“Voyaging is a common heritage to Pacific Island peoples and can only be done with careful planning and understanding of the ocean, to ensure the right timing , to know and wait for the right winds, and to take advantage of the right currents to ensure we got to our destination."

“In preparing our ‘te wa’ we built the right canoe for the journey and selected carefully the supplies, tools and expertise needed and this is exactly how my government has approached designing the Pacific Oceanscape and in ensuring the support and ownership of this initiative from within the region."

The concept of a Pacific Oceanscape was first raised at the 40th Pacific Islands Forum in 2009. There, Pacific Leaders unanimously supported the idea based on integrated ocean management. Regional organisations, NGOs and experts worked helped develop a full framework for the Pacific Oceanscape.

“We drew expertise from across our region, peoples and cultures. We also engaged expertise and knowledge from the wider international community. We built this canoe from the foundations of our Pacific Plan, Ocean Policies and our national and regional institutions", said President Tong.

The six priority areas for the regional oceans initiative includes ocean governance, jurisdictional rights and responsibilities, integrated ocean management (including marine protected areas and high seas issues), responding to climate and environmental change, sustaining action and financing.

Kiribati has made its first commitment to the Pacific Oceanscape – declaring Phoenix Islands a marine protected known as Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPPA).

“We have learnt much in the voyage to design and establish our PIPA and we are proud to share this and to commit this site as a foundation site for the Pacific Oceanscape. We hope to expand our effort to join with the United States Phoenix Islands to foster a whole-of-archipelago approach for island and ocean conservation.

“We call this an Ocean Arc initiative and this forms a new basis for effective collaboration for protected area management at scale, said the Kiribati leader.

The ocean, President Tong said is ‘our neighbour and this neighbourhood is shared with our states and the high seas.

“We need the support of the global community to sustainably manage our common neighbourhood. We welcome the recent signals of support such as the World Bank’s Global Programme on Oceans.

"In our region ‘the ocean unites and divides, connects and separates, sustains and threatens our very survival and influences every aspect of life.

“At Rio+20 we are seeing many issues that still “unite and divide us’, ‘connect and separate us’ but I would urge you all that on the issues of the oceans and indeed more widely for the future we want - we must unite , we must connect, we must voyage together, said President Tong.

Pacific leaders highlight key concerns

By Evan Wasuka, OneTelevision, Solomon Islands

Pacific leaders highlight key concerns from Wasuka Media on Vimeo.

20 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Pacific leaders have highlighted their key areas of concerns at a Rio+20 side event.

Kiribati President Anote Tong, Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia Emanuel Mori and the Ulu o Tokelau, Kerisiano Kalolo and Samoa's Minister of Natural Resources and Environment spoke on the theme “Pacific islands applying a green economy in a blue world.”

Our aim for zero waste

By Ms. Brianna Fruean, aged 14, Samoa

Members of the Fiji delegation with Clean Pacific bags

20 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The challenge for zero waste was made at Rio20 at a a side event hosted by the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).  "Zero Waste Strategies and Actions toward Sustainability"
Waste is a problem for all countries. At the event it was revealed that most waste is taken to the landfill and less than 20% is recycled. In the world, more than 3.5million people dispose of their rubbish in nearby bodies of land or water. This problem of harmful disposal of waste is caused by the lack of waste collection.

“In the past we used to dump our waste in the sea but it’s changed” said Mr David Newman, Vice President, and International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).

In the Pacific, rubbish is also a big problem. Especially since the Pacific Islands are so small, waste is very noticeable. Luckily we have initiatives like the Clean Pacific campaign which focuses on awareness and pollution prevention for the Pacific. The Clean Pacific reusable bags are showing a very bright presence at Rio+20.

This side event highlighted the fact that here in Rio+20, is the chance to create a Zero waste society. To do this, Governments have to set up more waste collections and by doing this, it also adds to jobs for a green economy.

Mr Anis Ismail, Secretary General, Solid Waste Exchange of Information promoted if Rio+20 is not successful people can still do their jobs of using the 3Rs; educe,Rreuse and Recycle, to do their part towards a Zero Waste Society.

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.

Solomon Islands deals with climate refugees

By Evan Wasuka, One Television, Solomon Islands

20 June, 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The Solomon Islands government is assessing the relocation of communities living in low lying islands as part of its national plan to deal with rising sea levels. 

The Solomon Islands Minister of Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, John Moffat Fugui, says the communities on Lord Howe and Sikaiana Island have been identified for relocation.

In recent years the communities on the two islands have suffered from food shortages due to seawater inundation and severe storm surges.

Mr Fugui says funding would be made available in July, to allow his ministry to study its relocation options for the islanders.

John Moffat Fugui on Relocation from Wasuka Media on Vimeo.

The Minister of Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, says international events like the Rio+20 Conference allows Solomon Islands and other Pacific Island countries to make contacts and access funding to deal with climate change.

John Moffat Fugui on Rio+20 from Wasuka Media on Vimeo.

Tokelau committed to renewable energy

By Kathleen Leewai, SPREP

19 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Tokelau is committed to addressing fossil fuel alternatives in their effort to battle the impacts of climate change
This was stated by the Ulu, or head, of Tokelau at the Pacific side event held at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20.
Following a strong message put forth in Durban, South Africa, at the UNFCCC COP17, that by September 2013, the 1,500 residents on the island nation of Tokelau would be 100% renewable energy efficient, the Ulu o Tokelau, Faipule Kerisiano Kalolo, outlined the progress they have made towards their goal. 
“The Tokelau electricity system has been recently upgraded to a 24 hour supply system, with the current energy system running on 95% diesel powered and 5% solar,” he said. 
“All people in Tokelau now have access to the power supply.” 
Energy is one of the five key priority areas identified under the Tokelau National Strategic Plan for Infrastructure and Development, and they have been closely supported by the Government of New Zealand in creating their national energy strategy which was drawn up with technical support input from UNDP
“Core to Tokelau’s energy strategy is the implementation of a renewable electricity system that is ecologically sustainable and lessens Tokelau’s dependence on imported and costly fossil fuels.” 
Speaking to Mr. Sefanaia Nawadra, Director of the Environmental Monitoring and Governance Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), after the successful side event, he said, “Although Tokelau is not a full United Nations member, they are full members SPREP and other regional organizations and we want to provide a platform for them to be profiled at these global events.” 
The Ulu o Tokelau presented at a panel of five Pacific leaders at the Pacific Side event including the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa, the President of Kiribati, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Prime Minister of Vanuatu.

MSG uses Rio+20 to promote its climate change declaration

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor

L  R Vanuatu Prime Minister (3rd from left) with Fiji delegation

19 June, 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) has used the opportunity at the Rio+20 conference in Rio de Janeiro to promote its Declaration of Environment and Climate, recently signed by MSG Leaders in Fiji.

Vanuatu Prime Minister, Meltel Sato Kilman Livtuvanu, who stood in for MSG chairman, Fiji’s Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the declaration demonstrates the group’s commitment to fighting climate change, whose impacts are already being felt by communities in MSG countries.

The sub-regional group comprises Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the FLNKS of New Caledonia. PM Kilman said a framework for green growth has been adopted by MSG Leaders as the basis for development.

“The MSG green growth framework will be focused on enhancing economic growth and development through the avoidance of loss of biodiversity and unsustainable use of natural resources, and the prevention of environmental degradation with a view to improve the livelihoods of its people.

He said MSG countries have the largest mangrove, sea grass and coastal swamp areas in the Pacific region.
In recognition of this, ‘we have called for a Melanesian Blue Carbon Initiative to inform decision makers in Melanesia on the scale and value of these areas and strategise on how to conserve and manage these resources.

In addition, the MSG will also establish Melanesian Terrestrial Commitment for the conservation, sustainable management and restoration of terrestrial environment and ecosystems.

“While richer nations can try to ‘buy’ protection in the form of engineered solutions, people in developing countries like us in Melanesia who are bearing the brunt of the impacts need a proven, accessible and affordable option,” said PM Kilman.

The MSG he said recognises that to achieve these commitments, climate financing is required.

To this end, MSG Leaders at their recent meeting in Fiji in March this year, resolved to set up Melanesia Green climate Fund to mobilise investments from potential donors to effectively address the adaptation needs of MSG communities.

PM Kilman used the Pacific Island side event, convened by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to urge potential donors and partners to support MSG’s climate change

The MSG covers a land area greater than 500,000 square kilometres and includes almost 2,000 islands, the flora and fauna of the Pacific region. It is also one of the world’s most significant biodiversity areas – both terrestrial and marine.

Pacific side event at Rio+20

By Kathleen Leewai, SPREP

19 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro – “Pacific islands applying a green economy in a blue world”, was the theme of a regional side event at the Rio+20 today that featured Pacific Leaders presenting on sustainable efforts in the region. 
Drawing a strong crowd, the event had standing space only with over 30 people holding discussions outside
“We’re really pleased that we were able to provide a good platform for our leaders to share Pacific initiatives in sustainable development and call for global support for these regional and sub regional actions,” said Mr. Sefanaia Nawadra, the Director of Environmental Governance and Monitoring at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
“The turnout was good with many people and partners from outside the region attending.”
Five Pacific leaders spoke at the event, their presentations covering a range of issues; the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa on the regional preparations for Rio+20, the President of Kiribati on the Pacific Oceanscape, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia on the Micronesia Challenge, the Prime Minister of Vanuatu on the Melanesian Spearhead Group, and the Ulu of Tokelau on their renewable energy plan.
This session was chaired by the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Mr. Tuiloma Neroni Slade the Pacific Oceanscape Commissioner.
The presentations were followed by a moderated discussion chaired the Director of the Forum Fisheries Agency, Su’a Dan, with speakers from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Conservation International, the Minister of Sustainable Development of New Caledonia, ESCAP, the IOC, and Tonga.
More news on the event will be featured.

A big day for the Pacific, 19 June 2012

By Kathleen Leewai, SPREP

From Fiji to Papua New Guinea to Samoa then on to Rio! Ms. Kathleen Leewai, the Publications and Communications Intern at SPREP is attending her first international environment conference - the Rio+20, this has been made possible with support from PACMAS, SPREP and Conservation International Pacific Island Program. Born and raised in Fiji, Kathleen has lived in Papua New Guinea, Australia and now in Samoa at SPREP where she works as the Publications and Communications Intern. This is Kathleens first time outside of the Pacific region, read about her experiences!

19 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Day 9 in Rio was a bustling day full of activity especially for the Pacific Media Team from SPREP. The Pacific Side Event held today was one of the major reasons we came to Rio, along with giving Pacific issues the proper exposure through our stories.

With five Pacific leaders presenting, the event aimed to highlight the challenges faced in the Pacific such as climate change and oceans issues, as well as showcasing the innovations and progress in the areas of renewable energy and the Micronesia Challenge.

We prepared materials for the event to distribute to the leaders and other Pacific Islands delegates at the event, and these included green bags, brochures, and USB drives loaded with publications and videos showcasing the environmental work being done in the Pacific region.

I felt so proud seeing our people represented at this global event, truly showing that we are a real part of this world with real challenges and problems and not just islands of sunshine and beaches. I feel fortunate to have been a part of this event as well, considering the sheer scope of the negotiations and the implications the outcomes from this could be on our region.

Of course, with the side event completed our job here is not done. We are here till the conference proper, which is when the world leaders endorse the final outcomes document, committing themselves to agreements sought throughout the two weeks for the future of our world.

Q and A with Pacific Youth Champion from Fiji at Rio+20

Ms. Brianna Fruean, 14 years, Samoa

Brianna Fruean and Kelvin Anthony

19 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Pacific Youth Champion and UNICEF Pacific Ambassador, Mr. Kelvin Anthony aged 24 has been in Rio since the 4th of June.  He attended the World Youth Congress funded by UNICEF Pacific, which concluded with 20 solutions to submit to the Rio Earth Summit before joining the Fiji delegation at Rio+20.  Below is a Q and A between Brianna and Kelvin, two Pacific youth champions at the world's biggest youth conference.

Brianna Fruean:  Q.  What Brought you to Rio?
Kelvin Anthony: A.  I was invited to be part of the World Youth Congress, an international youth gathering where we came up with 20 solutions which will be put forward to Rio+20 so that the world leaders can see the possible tangible solutions that can actually help the problem.  For me here, my mission is to get all the pacific youth aware on how these international negotiations go about and how it affects us.

Brianna Fruean:  Q.  What have you been doing at home (Fiji)?
Kelvin Anthony: A.  In preparation for Youth World Congress, I had a lot of support from young people in the pacific region as well as Fiji. I did a lot of media work getting ideas and opinions of youth from around the pacific so I can bring that to the World Youth Congress and as well as the Rio+20.

Brianna Fruean: Q.  What have you learnt from Rio+20?
Kelvin Anthony: A.  Well this is my first big international meeting and being an Ambassador for UNICEF Pacific, Fiji and the Pacific in general. For me, its been very frustrating because things are happening very slow and to me as a young person, I would like to see things move a bit faster especially the negotiations and discussions from leaders around the world. It’s been really sad because the way these discussions are going and the personal interest put out in these discussions, its very frustrating. Whatever the outcome of this meeting, it’s up to us to personally make the best out of the outcome.

Brianna Fruean: Q.  So if you go home and the results of Rio+20 and the commitments weren’t put through, what would you do?
Kelvin Anthony: A.  Well my focus is to go home and whatever the results, the output is since its been discouraging how the negotiations are going right now, but whatever the output is, I will take home with me the results we came up with at the World Youth Congress, come up with an Action Plan. The 2 things that I will focus on, is Education on sustainability development and try and put this into the school system. I will be using a lot of social media to get young people to start pushing for this thing. The 2nd thing is Climate Change, how can we adapt to the effects of Climate change into the way we live. Im still optimistic and I hope people in the pacific can make changes.

Brianna Fuean: Q. What inspired you to do this?
Kelvin Anthony: A.  What inspires me is seeing young people in the pacific who are younger than me and who are driving change. Im actually inspired by the work done by Ms Brianna Fruean who has been an inspiration.