The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.) held its inaugural executive board meeting at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel in Apia yesterday.
The organisation’s director general, Leota Kosi Latu, said the meeting is symbolic because it is the first time for the regional executive board to meet and implement the new governance arrangements laid out by the member countries, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the regional organisation.
“As this is our first S.P.R.E.P. executive board meeting, this will be an experimental and dynamic process and serve as a true test on whether this model effectively meets the needs and expectations of all of our members, noting engagement of the full membership is every two years,” he said.
“We want to ensure that whatever can be done to improve the service of the Secretariat that this forum will enable such feedback and likewise ensure that S.P.R.E.P. remains a member driven organisation as envisaged in the S.P.R.E.P. Treaty 25 years ago.”
Leota said the recent 49th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting in Nauru highlighted the key role S.P.R.E.P. plays in serving the region.
“Our mandate and our service to the region remains more than relevant and necessary in these pressing environmental times, to ensure a healthy, prosperous and resilient Pacific future,” he said.
Leota emphasised the need for S.P.R.E.P. to focus on its mandate to ensure it is able to allocate and direct technical and financial resources accordingly to make a difference where it has greatest impact.
He acknowledged the Governments of Australia and New Zealand for their consistent financial support towards the work of S.P.R.E.P.
Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa said as the host country for the Secretariat and the Pacific Climate Change Centre, the Government is committed to sustainable development relating to the environment.
“We continue to recognise the importance of conservation management and the intricate links of the environment with our way of life, our people and our culture; it is therefore our responsibility to ensure that this is enjoyed by the future generations of the Pacific.”
The E.B.M., which will now be held bi-annually, replaces the annual S.P.R.E.P. Meeting of Officials.