Thursday 21 June 2012

SPREP signs agreement with Indian Ocean Commission

21 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indian Ocean Commission in Rio de Janeiro. This now cements working partnerships across all the Small Island Developing States as an agreement was signed between SPREP and the Caribbean Climate Change Community Center (5C’s) last year.

“It’s groundbreaking in the sense that it’s the first formal agreement like this,” said Sefanaia Nawadra, the Director of Environmental Monitoring and Governance.

“The commitment has always been there to work together, now we are all at the stage where we have lessons that we can share with each other to help each other.”

A meeting today followed the signing of the MoU’s between IOC and the 5C’s, this is the start to paving the way forward for a stronger partnership. The IOC have indicated interest to attend the SPREP annual meeting in New Caledonia this year and a team from the 5C’s will be in Samoa over the next two months.

For one person in particular this momentous occasion is like a dream come true. Arthur Dahl was the one person secretariat of SPREP when it was first established in the 1970’s, before that he also worked on coral reef research in the Caribbean islands. Seeing how far the organizations and partners have come over the years has been a highlight for him at the Rio+20.

“This has been a dream for almost 40 years when we were first in the Pacific trying to build collaboration across the regions, having this dream that at the global level all the islands are working together, this is happening more and more, it’s the power between these that drives many environment agendas forward today.”

The signing took place at a side event coordinated by the Commonwealth Secretariat hosted at the Rio+20 meetings.

Fiji bids to host 2014 global conference on SIDS

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Rio de Janeiro

Members of the Fiji delegation
21 June, 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Fiji has formally registered its interest to host the third global conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in 2014.

Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama declared Fiji’s bid when he addressed 130 world leaders here in Rio de Janeiro Wednesday.

“We in Fiji are happy to note that SIDS remains a key reflection in the Rio+20 outcomes document. As such, I’ve also noted the proposal for a Third International Meeting on SIDS in 2014.

“As we continue in partnership within the Pacific Island region in climate change initiatives through dedicated time, human resources, and capital, Fiji offers host the Third International Meeting on SIDS and continue the dialogue, said Commodore Bainimarama.

The convening of the 2014 conference is contained in paragraphs 178-180 of the draft declaration of the Rio+20 conference, recognising the importance of co-ordinated, balanced and integrated actions to address the sustainable development challenges facing small island developing states.

The draft declaration reaffirmed the ‘unique and particular vulnerabilities in terms of their small size, remoteness, narrow resource and export base and exposure to global environmental challenges. It also noted the concerns of the international community that SIDS have made less progress than most other groupings, or even regressed in economic terms.

It acknowledged that sea level rise and other adverse impacts of climate change continue to pose a significant risk to SIDS and their efforts to achieve sustainable development.

“For many SIDS, climate change represents the gravest of threats to their survival and viability, said the draft declaration.

Given that previous SIDS meeting have been held in Barbados (Caribbean) in1994 and Mauritius (Indian Ocean) in 2005, it is now the turn of the Pacific to host the high level conference in 2014.

The Fijian Prime Minister also highlighted Fiji’s efforts to maintain sustainable development on the country’s national agenda.

“Recent global developments, such as the financial, fuel, and food crises have served to underscore this reality, particularly as we move forward together in facing the adverse impacts of climate change, climate variability, and rising sea levels. Our vulnerabilities have increased, whilst our capacity to cope has not.

He told world leaders Fiji like other Small Island Developing States continues to face significant challenges in safe energy supplies, biodiversity and disasters related to climate change.

To address some of these challenges, Commodore Bainimarama suggested to using the holistic approach of the ‘Pacific Way.’

“For Pacific islanders, the “Pacific Way” invokes dialogue and collaboration in sharing our island heritage, independence, and right to self-governance, as we strive to establish effective communications, strengthen social networks and promote environmentally friendly, sustainable economic development.

The “Pacific Way” concept points Fiji and its island neighbours toward the path that will lead to the “Future We Want” – if I may refer to the proposed title of the outcome document from Rio+20.

“If re-invigorated today, it is my belief that the concept behind this term will help the Pacific islands region further develop and strengthen its ability to work together toward its sustainable development goals.

However, Commodore Bainimarama admits the Fiji and the region still look towards the leadership and guidance of the world’s most advanced nations in addressing matters of environmental and economic development and security.

Commodore Bainimarama and his delegation, which includes the Minister of Youth and Sport, Commander Viliame Naupoto leave Brazil at the weekend.

Solomon Islands commends Pacifc hosting of SIDS meeting

By Evan Wasuka, One Television, Solomon Islands

21 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has commended the decision by countries meeting in Rio de Janeiro to give the Pacific hosting rights for a key meeting on sustainable development in 2014.

In his country address to world leaders at the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil, Mr Lilo, said the Pacific’s hosting of the Third Sustainable Development Conference for Small Islands Development States (SIDS) will highlight the special situation of SIDS.

The Pacific’s hosting of the SIDS meeting was one of the outcomes of negotiations at Rio+20.

“Solomon Islands welcomes the recognition by all leaders that climate change is undermining sustainable development.”

He Lilo said vulnerable countries in particular Small Islands Developing States and Least Developed countries, both of which Solomon Islands is a member of, have an uncertain future given the intensity and frequency of various natural and global crisis.

“From climate change impacts, growing global inequalities to unsustainable consumption by a broken international economic system.”

Solomon Islands prime minister also gave his country’s support for a SIDS initiative to convene a ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the United Nation’s 67th General Assembly.

Mr Lilo said the event would build on the current political momentum at Rio and garner support for the UNFCCC’s campaign of keep global temperatures from rising over 1.5 degree Celsius.

“Small Islands Developing States must not be seen as expendable because of their smallness, nor be regarded as collateral damage because of global inaction.”

As for the Rio+20 itself, Mr Lilo said the Solomon Islands recognized some of the key deliverables.

“We will be launching three process decisions; first, the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals will safe guard, life-giving resources needed for humanity's survival.

“Second, an institutional framework for sustainable development, to better coordinate the implementation of decisions emanating from the conference.

“Third, the means of implementation that should translate decisions into action with relevant technology transfer, and a financial mechanism to ensure resources are available for implementation.”

He said the conference gives countries the opportunity to renew our collective commitment to the Rio principles with a focused and concise set of agreed actions that should guarantee the future of the planet, for the present and future generations.

Julia Gillard at Rio+20

By Evan Wasuka, One Television, Solomon Islands

21 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Australia will continue to do its part in preserving the natural ecosystem and in conserving the natural environment.

Ms Gillard is among the world leaders attending the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil.

She says the outcome of Rio+20 is an agreement between all the 193 UN country members and is geared towards delivering change in the long term.

Julia Gillard at Rio+20 from Wasuka Media on Vimeo.

In Rio, Ms Gillard has been appointed the co-chair with Rwanda global efforts to encourage countries to increase government aid to fight poverty, by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

It comes despite Australia delaying by one year its pledge to meet the target by 2015.

Mr Ban also said Australia had been leading by example" on the need to tackle climate change.

"I really count on the Prime Minister's strong visionary leadership and commitment," Mr Ban said.

"She has been eloquently contributing to the global community."

Rio+20 High Level Statements: Tuvalu

Statement on behalf of Tuvalu

Rio+20 High level Statements: Fiji

Commodore Josaia Voreqe Banimarama- Prime Minister

Ban Ki Moon says Rio+20 political document must be matched with action

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor

21 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon says the global roadmap for sustainable development to ne endorsed by world leaders here in Rio should be matched with actions.

“Whilst time is not on our side, world leaders must rise above narrow national interests. Global interests must be their own national interests.

“We must be united for our common good and united for unity, pleaded Ban Ki Moon in his statement to 130 world leaders gathered at the Rio+20 conference in the Brazilian city.

SG Moon said the world would have expected bolder and ambitious commitments from leaders.

“Negotiations have been very difficult and slow, because of conflicting interests and ideas. Some have tried to be bolder while some Parties have strongly expressed their own views and interests. It has been such a long and delicate process of negotiations, Ban Ki Moon told journalists.

As the convener for the Rio+20 conference he was encouraged by the strong leadership shown by Brazil in achieving the outcome now before world leaders.

This political statement by world leaders, no matter how good, will mean nothing if these actions are not implemented.

If these commitments are not translated into action, it means nothing. All these outcomes should be implemented without further delay, said the UN top diplomat.

“20 years ago in a breakthrough here in Rio, world leaders put sustainable development on the world map but those bold words and good intentions were not enough.

“We cannot continue to burn and consume our way to prosperity at the expense of the world’s poor and the global environment. Let us not forget that Rio +20 is about people who hope for real improvements in their daily lives for the poor, women and young people and future generations.

One of the achievements of Rio+20 will be the establishment of the universal sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Commenting on the draft outcomes text, the Secretary General of the Rio+20 conference, Sha Zukang said the document will be put to Heads of State on Friday for adoption.

“Like all negotiations, there will be some countries that feel the text could be more ambitious. Or, others who feel their own proposals could be better reflected, while still others might prefer to have their own language,” he said.

“But, let’s be clear: multilateral negotiations require give and take.”

The agreed outcome document spells out action points such as the need to establish sustainable development goals and mobilize financing for sustainable development, as well as the promotion of sustainable consumption and production, among others.
It also stresses the need to include women, non-governmental organizations, and indigenous groups in the sustainable development agenda, and calls on the private sector to engage in sustainable corporate business practices.
In addition to the outcome text, there have been over 400 voluntary commitments for sustainable development by Member States in the lead-up to the high-level meeting of Rio+20, which officially starts on Wednesday with an address by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“The spirit of compromise is the mark of a good consensus, and crucial if all countries are to be on board, take ownership, and share a collective commitment,” Mr Sha said. “This is the only way forward if we want to harness the necessary action for advancing together on a path of sustainable development.”
Rio+20’s high-level meeting runs from 20-22 June, and is expected to bring together over 100 heads of state and government, along with thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers and civil society leaders to shape new policies to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.

AOSIS calls for strong political will to back steps made in oceas at Rio+20

By Evan Wasuka, One Television, Solomon Islands

21 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The Alliance of Small Islands States is calling for strong political will to back the progress made in commitment for oceans conservation and protection at Rio+20.

Political will must now match the progress made in getting commitments, said AOSIS's Sustainable Development Director, Margo Deiye at a Pacific Small Islands Developing States and Earthjustice side event.

“Rio must just be the beginning. Commitments made here after all are just words on paper until they are implemented.”

She said it was imperative that countries leave the talks with renewed political will to implement longstanding commitments to restore and protect coastal habitats and marine environments.

Oceans, she said are vital for sustainable development especially for countries in the Pacific.

"We can’t develop if we don’t have food to eat, water to drink, or land to build on."

In a statement the chair of AOSIS, Ambassador Marlene Moses, the Permanent Representative to the United Nations from Nauru said there were gains for SIDS in the outcome document.

“The agreement to convene the Third International Conference for the Sustainable Development of SIDS in 2014 is an important outcome and it will provide a crucial opportunity to highlight the existential threat many small islands face from sea level rise, as well as the devastating effects ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and other climate change impacts. The Pacific looks forward to hosting this meeting.

“Heartening progress has also been made in Rio on fisheries conservation. For many islands, fisheries are fundamental to our national economies and are an essential source of protein for our diets.

“The new commitment to identify strategies that further assist SIDS in developing the capacity to sustainably manage and realize the benefits of sustainable fisheries have the potential to revitalize many national economies.

Ambassador Moses said ocean acidification is an international crisis and countries must work together to urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions and work collectively to build the resilience of marine ecosystems and of the communities whose livelihoods depend on them.

Rio+20 High Level statements:Vanuatu

Statement by Prime Minister,Meltek Sato Kilman Livtuvanu - Vanuatu

Pacific Oceanscape initiative targets critical issues

By Kathleen Leewai, SPREP

21 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Pacific Island nations have come together in an effort to conserve their most valuable resource, the Pacific Ocean, with the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape.

The Pacific Oceanscape covers an area of nearly 40 million square kilometers (15.4 million square miles), which is over 7.9 percent of the Earth’s surface.

L - R Sefanaia Nawadra SPREP, Russell Miittermeier CI
Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International, said, “The Pacific Oceanscape is an amazing concept, on a scale unlike anything we are ever going to see again.”

“It is more than 4 times the size of the United States, including Alaska, and more than 4 times the size of Brazil.”

This area houses one-third of the world’s tuna stocks and related species, but over-fishing has seen a decline in these resources.

This, along with rising sea levels, ocean warming, pollution and ocean acidification, has meant the downfall of livelihoods of Pacific Islanders.

The framework was first proposed by the government of Kiribati and aims to protect, manage, maintain, and sustain the cultural and natural integrity of the ocean.

It was endorsed by leaders at the Pacific Island Forum, who saw the initiative as a vehicle to build pride, leadership, learning and cooperation across an ocean environment.

Since the introduction of the framework, 15 island nations have been cooperating with regional intergovernmental agencies and the conservation community to implement the Pacific Oceanscape initiative.

“To have all the leaders of countries and territories in one region coming together to express their concern, interest and common approach to the future of their region is unheard of, it’s phenomenal,” said Mr. Mittermeier.

“I think what Kiribati is doing now with the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) with 1.2 million square kilometers of protection area, and with the Cook Islands and Tokelau following suit, is unbelievable.”

The Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape has also been seen by leaders as a catalyst for action for the Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Policy (PIROP) which aims to conserve the ocean that sustains and threatens our very survival for future generations and, indeed, for global well-being.

Rio+20 High Level Statements: Kiribati

Statement by President Anote Tong, Kiribati
June 2012

Global Island Partnership features the Micronesia Challenge at Rio+20

By Kathleen Leewai, SPREP

21 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - A representative of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Mr. Tony Debrum, the Minister-in-Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands, presented the challenges and successes of the Micronesia Challenge at a side event hosted by the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA).

The Micronesian Challenge is a commitment by the governments of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands to conserve at least 30% of near-shore marine resources and 20% of terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.

Mr. Debrum highlighted the challenges faced in bringing the three governments and territories of Guam and the Northern Marianas together to create the Micronesia Challenge, saying that within the sub region of Micronesia itself there are differences in language, culture, and types of governments.

 Mr. Tony Debrum, the Minister-in-Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands
“People think that we are all the same people, living in the same neighbourhood,” he said.

“Despite this, I think in all the attempts to unify islands in this way, this has been the most successful.”

The event opened with remarks from Ambassador Ronald Jumeau, the Seychelles Ambassador of Climate Change and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Issues, who stated that, in the islands, the discussions of sustainable development and biodiversity are one and the same.

“We cannot talk about development in islands communities without talking about oceans, and coral reefs, and fisheries, and marine tourism,” said Ambassador Jumeau.

Agreeing with this point, Mr. Debrum disputed media reports that the Micronesia Challenge is missing the area of focus by not addressing the issues of public health and improving of social wellbeing.

“I want to add on to Ambassador Jumeau’s remark earlier. We cannot separate these efforts as they are all the same thing to us.”

Following Mr. Debrum’s presentation were similar presentations on the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, and the West Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge, both of which cited the Micronesian Challenge as inspirations for their inception.

The theme of the event was “Securing the island future we want” and focused on highlighting the leadership of the island regions, as well as a discussion on debt-for-adaptation as a potential mechanism for financing and thoughts on investing in nature.

"Are you here to save face or save us?" - Voice of NZ teen at Rio+20

By Ms. Brianna Fruean, aged 14 years, Samoa

Statement by Brittany Trilford to the high level plenary
21 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Brittany Trilford a seventeen year old from New Zealand won the chance of a life time, to address the world leaders at the Rio+20 first plenary, a global competition was set up “Date with history”.

It was a competition that people from the ages of 13 to 30 submitted videos of the speech they would say to the world leaders at Rio+20. These entries were judged by a panel including famous actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Ms Trilford delivered her statement to the high level plenary at Rio+20.

“I stand here with fire in my heart, I am confused and angry at the state of the world and I want us to work together now to change this, we are here today to solve the problems that we have caused as a collective to ensure that we have a future.”

The responses to her statement on Twitter have been excellent.

“Hopefully the words of Brittany Trilford are ringing in every politician's ears” tweeted one of her supporters.

This young lady has indeed sent her message to the 130 world leaders.

“We the next generation demand change, demand action so that we can have a future…we trust you to put our interests before all other interests and boldly do the right thing…..are you here to save face or to save us?” was Brittany Trilford’s final words.